Information letter

Title of Project: Establishing Baseline Tour Behaviour Data through Smart Phone data collection in Downtown Kitchener

You are invited to participate in a research study conducted by Andrea Mikkila, under the supervision of Dr. Jeffrey Casello and Dr. Robert Feick with the School of Planning of the University of Waterloo, Canada. The objectives of the research study are to assess trip patterns, stops, and other travel behaviour of residents through a smart phone application in the Kitchener Downtown Core. The study is for a Master’s thesis. 

If you decide to volunteer, you will be asked to install a smart phone application on your cell phone that passively collects GPS data from your phone to record your movement in Kitchener's downtown.  This information will help us to understand how people use transit as well as other means of travel (e.g. walking, biking) in the downtown area.  You will also be asked to complete an optional one-time survey within the app that will help us to understand general demographic characteristics such as age range, gender, etc. You may decline to answer any questions that you do not wish to answer and you can withdraw your participation at any time by uninstalling the smart phone application like any other app. The app will be available for download for Android and IPhone [insert date when known] from Google Play or the ITunes store for free. The application has to be turned on each time you wish to generate travel information using the on button in the app, as well as enabling Location in your phone.  If you do not want to gather data, do not turn it on. Following data collection, the first and last 30 seconds of each collection period will be removed to ensure your home address or work address is not likely discernable. Mobile data may be used to collect GPS data, but this option may be disabled within the app settings to limit data collection to WIFI for syncing.

You will need a valid email address in order to sign up for the study within the phone application. In appreciation of the time you have given to this study, your name will be entered into a draw for 1 of 2 $100 Amazon gift cards. Your odds of winning one of the prizes are based on the number of individuals who participate in the study and the amount of time you track your travel. We expect that approximately 60-100 individuals will take part in the study. For every 12 hours of data you provide via the app, you will receive one electronic ballot into the draw for the gift cards. Should you be the winner of one of the prizes, your email will be used to contact you. This email will not be used for any other form of communication, and will not be provided to any third parties, and this information will then be destroyed after the prizes have been provided. The amount received is taxable. It is your responsibility to report this amount for income tax purposes.

It is important for you to know that any information that you provide will be confidential. All of the data will be summarized and no individual will be identified from these summarized results. Furthermore, the application is programmed to collect only GPS coordinates and will not collect any information that could potentially identify you (such as machine identifiers). However, the more information you provide, the greater the results of the study, but no question is required to be answered. If you prefer not to submit your survey responses through the app or do not want to provide your email, please do not sign up for this study.

As well, the data will be electronically archived after completion of the study and maintained for at least three years and then erased. This survey is anonymous in that we do not require your name or any identifying information. Once you have submitted your responses it is not possible to withdraw your consent to participate as we have no way of knowing which responses are yours. Only those associated with this study will have access to these records which are secured and maintained with no personal identifiers on a password-protected computer database in a restricted access area of the university. We will keep our study records for a minimum of 3 years. All records are destroyed according to University of Waterloo policy. There are no known or anticipated major risks from participating in this study. However, when information is transmitted over the internet privacy cannot be guaranteed. There is always a risk your responses may be intercepted by a third party (e.g., government agencies, hackers). University of Waterloo researchers will not collect or use internet protocol (IP) addresses or other information which could link your participation to your computer or electronic device without first informing you.

This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Committee (ORE#21948). If you have questions for the Committee contact the Chief Ethics Officer, Office of Research Ethics, at 1-519-888-4567 ext. 36005 or

For all other questions about the study, please contact either Andrea Mikkila at or by phone at 1-519-502-7756 or Dr. Jeffrey Casello at or Dr. Robert Feick at  Further, if you would like to receive a copy of the results of this study, please contact an investigator.

Thank you for considering participation in this study.