Though this week started a little bit slow, after we conducted our first field day last Friday, Adina and Chris with one group member discussed how the first field day went and how to continue moving forward. First, we went over the field day itself and the survey so far. We presented the digital version of the survey to Adina and Chris, and they offered feedback throughout the week so we could finalize the survey. Adina shared the online survey with a semi-public organization, Commute.org, that may help with distribution. Unfortunately, they will not be able to do so until March 9th, which means the responses gathered would be too late to influence our pilot study.
We then went on to discuss how to gather more responses and fine tune our administration process. Chris and Adina suggested first standardizing the way in which we choose businesses to survey, to make sure it is consistent and we don’t bias our results in any way. They also suggested that we survey next at Redwood City, which we intended to do on Thursday. Though we were not able to do it this past week, two group members surveyed at the University Avenue area, and were able to gather two physical responses from retail businesses in about two hours, which is slower than our rate last Friday. However, they found that people were generally very receptive to the project and handed out many information cards to workers in about half of the businesses on University Ave. Tomorrow, more group members are planning to make the trip to Redwood City to continue expanding the survey catchment area.
What We Observed and Learned
Surprisingly enough, we generally noticed that people were easy to approach and talk about their commute. Over the two survey days, we noticed a variety of different responses though we approached folks at work. Some people were quick to express their opinions and were able to take about 10 minutes to answer the paper version of the survey. A greater number of people expressed a lot of interest in answering the survey, but because they were at work, they said that they would be happy to take the online survey on their own time. After we realized that the majority of people had this response, especially in the food and beverage sector, we printed out smaller, less ink-intensive cards with the link and our contact information so we could disseminate the link to more people. However we did realize that we had more luck surveying people in person in the retail sector, simply because they were able to step away from their work. Though we tried asking workers in busy businesses if there were folks on their breaks that were able to take the in-person survey, people were more open to receiving the link information. We crossed our fingers hoping that they would eventually take the survey after we left the business. Other options for “closing the loop” is re-scheduling a time to come back and survey workers in that particular business or incentivizing folks with random Amazon gift card drawings. We will continue to test our survey methods these next 2 weeks, but we have had some successes in getting both physical and online responses in these past two survey outings.
As a whole, folks seemed pretty despondent about the likelihood of the 101 ever having better traffic conditions, and some focused on the deteriorating condition of the road in their commute such as the presence of potholes on the road. In terms of the survey format, we made many shifts according to Chris and Adina’s suggestions and to folks responses during the survey times. For example, we changed a lot of the questions to not being required on the online form since there were a bunch of places that folks preferred not to fill out. When we gave our 101 Express Lanes pitch, we realized that the trifold handout that we made was invaluable with its visuals in explaining the concept of express lanes to workers.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
During field days, we have not been able to get as many in-person responses as we would have liked in the past two outings. Considering we only have 8 responses so far and are aiming for a minimum of 30 to analyze in our final report, our number of survey days and our survey methodology could use improvement. However, with some contacts that Adina and Chris can provide with extra volunteers to help us collect more surveys and potential help from business organizations find a way to speed up surveying, we will be able to adequately present a concise presentation on survey results and methodology. Regardless, what we have tested thus far and our literature review will remain a large bulk of our final report to our community partners as we pass our this project to them. In the coming weeks as we continue to survey, we will simultaneously work on the final report and will analyze survey responses nearer the end of these ten weeks.
Another major factor to consider is the diversity of respondents. In these past two weeks, we only had the opportunity to survey folks in the Palo Alto area which is not representative of the population we want to hear from. Therefore looking forward towards these next two weeks, we will focus our efforts on expanding our survey area. While our survey will be scaled up on, we still want our results to be somewhat representative of the San Mateo worker population.
In this back half of the quarter communication within the group has lapsed as the quarter as become busier, but this has been brought to our attention as we have begun to operationalize our surveying. We’re excited that our community partners are optimistic for our efforts in this project, however our capacity in these final weeks will solely be focused on creating a scalable survey model to continue getting worker responses in San Mateo County.