How did we ensure surveyor safety?
Safety is the most important concern when conducting surveys in neighbourhoods. Although there may be minimal concerns surveying the neighbourhoods in your sample, it is important to develop a safety protocol that protects the surveyors in the case of an incident. Your safety protocol might include provisions for protecting surveyors’ physical safety as well as privacy and confidentiality.
Here is a list of strategies we found helpful for maintaining surveyors’ safety
- Develop a protocol for dealing with physical safety issues. The following elements are important to share with surveyors
- Remove yourself from the situation
- Ensure that you and your partner are safe
- If your life is under threat, call 911
- If you believe to be safe, call the survey coordinator and talk through the situation
- Make a note about the incident to keep a record
- Discuss with the survey coordinator on how to avoid the situation or area.
- Meet with members of communities of interests and residents to identify “hotspots” in the sampled neighbourhoods.
- Communicate hotspots with surveyors prior to sending them into the field.
- Describe the potential safety concerns that the surveyors may experience in the field. At the same time, communicate the protocol for dealing with safety concerns. Provide a space for surveyors to react to this discussion and acknowledge their concerns and answer their questions.
- Survey in pairs.
- Conclude a surveying session immediately before sunset, especially in areas identified as being hotspots. Sunset time will change throughout the year.
- Do not carry more than $200 at any given point in time. For surveying where surveyors stand in one place, do not carry cash at all and instead provide online gift cards.
- Consider staggering visits to the same neighbourhood. For example, have two surveyors visit the neighbourhood on day 1 and day 3 but not day 2.
Case Study: Corresponding Shootings in Surveying Area
Checklist for Organisations
How did we maintain surveyor motivation?
Surveyors spend several hours a week in the field, visiting a number of houses daily, and experiencing multiple negative responses from residents; all of which may affect their motivation and their ability to administer surveys effectively. Having high motivation from surveyors was a crucial component of project success not just for response rate but also for making the experience enjoyable and meaningful for surveyors. This section outlines the various strategies we employed to motivate surveyors throughout the data collection period.
A. Entering the Field
- Initial Training: We ensured that surveyors became passionate about the project and developed rapport with each other through active learning activities. We describe our strategies in more detail in the training section.
- Pairs: All surveyors worked in pairs in the field. Each pair knocked on doors together and they alternated. Since surveyors were always in pairs, they could encourage and motivate one another, especially after a negative interaction with a resident.
- Replenish: Each week, there was a replenish meeting where surveyors met the survey coordinator to obtain necessary materials. This meeting was an opportunity to check-in with each surveyor and the coordinator, answer any questions or concerns, and for the coordinator to express gratitude and appreciation of their motivation and commitment. This strategy also gave surveyors the impression that the coordinator was always present
B. In the Field
- WhatsApp Group: We created an instant messaging group on WhatsApp that surveyors used in the field. By staying connected to surveyors before, during, and after shifts, it gave the impression that the coordinator and other surveyors were constantly present.
- Virtual Check-Ins: At the end of each shift, each surveying team messaged the WhatsApp group with the number of doors they knocked, surveys they completed, and questions or challenges they faced. Sharing this information on the collective WhatsApp Group created a competitive environment that increased response rate. Questions and challenges allowed surveyors to exchange best practices and strategies.
C. Exiting the Field
- Regular Meetings: Once or twice weekly, the manager met with the surveyors virtually to update them about the response rate, preliminary findings and provide the opportunity to explore strategies to increase response rates. These meetings were particularly helpful for navigating through challenges with our protocols, for example, getting senior residents to participate. We used this strategy at the beginning of each survey phase to adapt our protocols to the neighborhoods and surveyors. In addition, once every few weeks, the coordinated hosted dinners with surveyors.
- Informal Focus Groups: Once every month, we invited surveyors to talk about their experiences in the field. We wanted to capture their ethnographic experiences surveying low-income communities and interacting with diverse residents. This strategy showed that the survey coordinator valued the team’s suggestions by changing the protocols immediately based on their feedback.
- End of Data Collection Dinner: We celebrated the experiences and successes made at the end of each data collection phases. We invited surveyors to interact with the research team in an informal context.
- Involvement in Other Components of the Project: Some surveyors expressed interest in contributing to other aspects of the Community Voices project. We provided several opportunities for surveyors to be involved in conducting qualitative interviews, transcribing interviews, supporting analysis of survey findings, and writing different sections of this handbook. By having surveyors contribute to other parts of the project, we highlighted how much we valued our surveyors.