September 2020 fieldwork update

Fieldwork update September 2020

Route paused fieldwork in early March 2020 to ensure the safety of interviewers and participants alike. Since then, we have conducted pilot tests to check on the feasibility of returning to interviewing. Encouragingly, Face To Face has tested well.

Given this, we have recommenced fieldwork (from late August 2020) on a slow drip feed building up slowly week, by week until we reach ‘normal’ capacity by the end of the year. To ensure the continued safety of all, our fieldwork partners Ipsos have implemented various precautions for the benefit of interviewers and participants. We have also added questions to the questionnaire to ensure safeguarding. See here for coverage on the steps Ipsos are taking around ensuring safety during times of Covid-19.

Dealing with local lockdowns
While we hope that normality will return sooner rather than later, the reality remains that clustered outbreaks are inevitable and with this local lockdowns may ensue. Route selects its sample locations for the year in advance, meaning that we can selectively cluster the locations which we work and ensure an effective and efficient means of representing the GB adult population. We have plans in place to reallocate points if and when we come up against local lockdowns, so those points will not be worked as per the schedule, but will be made up later in the year once local restrictions are lifted.

Updating sample
In terms of what we do with the sample, there are two core aspects to this. Firstly, what we do with the data collected leading up to the national lockdown and then what we do with the data collected post-lockdown.

Route updates its sample annually and runs its fieldwork year from September – August. In March 2021 we will be refreshing our sample as per the planned schedule. However this year, we obviously don’t have data from March – August, when the country was in lockdown. However, we do still have valid data from the previous six months (September 2019 – February 2020). The data published in March will include this data, however, we will not remove the sample from 2016/17 and instead increase our sample and move to a 3.5 year rolling dataset.

What to do with the data we collect post-lockdown
We’ve also put in place various tracking measures to better understand how travel habits compare against previous years. We’re looking at measures sourced direct from the MST meters such as number of journeys, time spent OOH and distances travelled. We’ll be monitoring these internally until we have something to say on this (once we have sufficient sample upon which to draw confident conclusions).

How we treat the data from the sample currently in field will depend on how we see travel habits compare over time. Whether there is a new way of behaving or not or whether people return to form, we’ll need to wait and see, and deal with the data accordingly in due course. Once we have more data to hand on how people are travelling this will be shared as appropriate.

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