2008 Volume 117 Issue 2 Pages 568-581
Many time-allocation studies have adopted questionnaires (activity diaries) or direct observation of informants. However, it is difficult to use questionnaires in rural areas of developing countries due to problems such as illiteracy, the fact that few people possess a watch, and the lack of place names in many rural and wild areas. Direct observation also has limitations because it is not possible to obtain information from many informants simultaneously. We developed a new survey method combining interviews with the use of GPS and GIS. The procedures are as follows. (1) Each informant is asked to carry a wristband GPS receiver for an entire day. The GPS unit records information related to the spatio-temporal aspects of the informant's activities. (2) After 24 hours of GPS, recording is completed; then the data are stored and represented visually using GIS software (ArcView 9.1). The investigator works out the shape of the spatio-temporal path of each informant by mapping tracking points with time information. (3) Subsequently, as GPS data reveals almost nothing about the content of activities, the investigator interviews each informant to clarify details of activities: what activity was carried out, at what time, where, and with whom.
We conducted the survey in Dongkhuwaai Village, which is located about 30km from Vientiane, the capital of Laos. The daily activities of villagers consist mainly of a combination of subsistence agriculture, fishing, hunting, and gathering. By carrying out this survey, in which 138 villagers participated, it was verified that the new survey method has the following merits. (1) Using GPS improves the accuracy of spatio-temporal data. (2) GPS data can be easily correlated with satellite images and map data, which enables us to consider people's daily activities in combination with various geographical phenomena. (3) Investigators can obtain information outlining an informant's activities from GPS data before conducting interviews, thereby improving the efficiency of interviews.