Time Use Study
Measure daily activities with a smartphone app

Time Use Study is a cooperative project between CentERdata and the Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP). It is a comparative study in which daily activities are noted in a paper diary and then compared to the same diary which notes everything in a smartphone application (app).

How the app works

CentERdata developed an app for Android smartphones and tablets as well as for iPhones and iPads that panel members can use to note their daily activities. The panel members are asked to note their activities every 10 minutes.

In addition to the main activity at a certain time of day, for example, cooking, it is also possible to indicate a second activity taking place simultaneously such as watching TV. The panel member can also indicate whether he is alone or whether family or friends are present. The standard for filling in the activities is based on the HETUS standard for activities.

Technology and sensors in the smartphone complement the information that has been collected, for example, the location (GPS). It also keeps the user actively involved in filling in information (reminders and alarms). This increases the frequency at which information is filled in, which in turn improves quality.

Effect of the app

Research into how people spend their time began in September 2012. Every month, 180 panel members participated in the study. Panel members who did not own a smartphone were loaned one. The study was completed in September 2013 after more than 1000 panel members had collected information about how they spent their time.

A number of different versions of the app have been developed since then, such as for the University of Groningen, Alterra and the University of Wageningen, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), and the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR). The apps are used to measure how specific target groups spend their time or to present location-specific questionnaires.

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