Random Triggers in Mobile Surveys

Our platform allows researchers to send custom push notifications to their participants. These notifications can be based on time, date and/or GPS location. One of the most popular and robust of these notifications is the Random Trigger. This part of the platform allows a researcher to control the randomization of when their notifications are sent out.

The paradox of this is that a true random algorithm cannot be mathematically defined, but in order to program randomness into the platform, it needs to be mathematically defined. What we have developed is a way to manipulate randomness by adding a certain level of control.

Random Pain

An example of this would be a researcher who wants to ask a participant a set of questions at some point between noon 9am and 5pm, like in the picture above. Now it is rather uncomplicated to build an algorithm that sends a single notification between these ranges. However, it becomes increasingly hard to maintain the random aspect when a researcher wants to set multiple random notifications with a minimal interval of time between prompts, something our platform allows for. In this example, the randomness is being manipulated. The researcher wants to control a buffer of time where a prompt goes off, but within this time block, it must fire at random.

In this case, the researcher is looking for a minimum of 35 minutes to pass before their participants receive the next notification, with 12 notifications in total to go off throughout the day. This ensures a random distribution of triggers so that participants do not have the possibility of getting all 12 notifications at once, or within short proximity.

Random triggers are very popular within the clinical psychology community and often used with the Experience Sampling Methodology (ESM), a technique that polls participants randomly and in-the-moment. Prior to this technology, researchers would program stop-watches to beep at random times, and participants would have to write down their experience manually. In other scenarios, researchers hacked together old Palm Pilots and used open-source, non-secure programs, which seem ancient in comparison to the abilities of smartphones.

The ability to manipulate the randomness of prompts is a great tool to have in your research arsenal. It’s a flexible and powerful tool to poll participants at the moment.

Security vs. Efficiency, What is Better?

Security has always been a large topic of conversation in the technology world. Today, it is almost impossible to browse the web without catching wind about changes in privacy laws and/or breaking news on large-scale security leaks. Insecurities amongst online consumers are increasing, as more and more consumers no longer feel safe when shopping online. Consumers say they want to seek out platforms that offer greater security, however, even with the knowledge of security risks, most customers tend to ignore security if it requires a great deal of time or effort.

The trade off between time and security has created somewhat of a dilemma for consumers. In general, most consumers are willing to sacrifice some security in the interest of time and convenience. Even though we enjoy the facade of claiming that we put our privacy first at the end of the day, the general consensus is that we would rather save time. This belief could be attributed to optimism bias – the belief that one is less at risk of experiencing a negative event compared to others. The idea that people tend to believe that security breaches won’t happen to them. This, along with the lack of visibility of security itself, tends to lead consumers to assume that they’re more secure than they actually are.

Although consumers rather give up some privacy for convenience it is still up to the company to protect them, even with customer error the blame could still be put on the company. This is where the battle for an effective blend between convenience and security comes in. As a company you want to retain the greatest number of customers as possible. Having an efficient, quick and easy to use interface, you can increase customers, however, quick tends to be less secure and having issues with security can cause greater losses. The key to success is having a balance, and finding the median between risk and speed. The more secure content you have the more you would gear towards privacy, as any security issues would cause the greatest damage. Choosing the best direction is company dependent but at the end of the day security should always be a top of mind concern no matter what you do

Harnessing the Power of Data

Dwight Newbold is our resident Data Scientist. He has a passion for data, statistical modeling and creating new methods of visualizing complex data. We asked Dwight to share some thoughts on why capturing rich data is important, and what organizations are missing out on when they neglect the data. Here’s what he had to say:

Data is a constant in our daily lives. Almost every aspect of our lives is somehow recorded and each record offers a glimpse into our habits and thoughts.  These snippets have intangible value, and this value has resulted in a “big data” revolution over the past few years.

Organizations are realizing the importance of data-based decision-making. There exist patterns in data that are slight in nature. If these slight patterns get noticed in time, they can be exploited, result in actionable insights, split-second decision-making, and ultimately better outcomes. 

Your analysis, along with your interpretation should tell a complete story. It should paint a picture of the past, present, as well as offering you a view through the looking glass of what is yet to come.

Exploratory data analysis, confirmatory data analysis, and predictive modeling are essential to the story. Statistical methods, coupled with high-quality graphical techniques, are crucial. They help us understand what is going on and lead to making intelligent decisions.


“Insight, not hindsight is the essence of predictive analytics”  -Ravi Kalakota

To further Ravi’s point, I would say that being proactive, not reactive is the nature of the analytics beast nowadays.

Given the mass of data available and computing power at our disposal, gaining valuable insights is not a difficult feat. Yet, many organizations are still missing out on this opportunity.

It should be easy to use many disciplines to drive decision-making. You should have complete control of your data sets. This means the ability to collect quality data, incorporate external data sets, produce dynamic graphs and dashboards, view a snapshot of your past data, and use predictive analytics and various statistical modeling techniques to drive the decision-making.

Data analysis brings about important trends, patterns, and relationships that are essential in driving decision-making.

Emerging Data Solution

EDS is a consulting firm which provides business solutions in terms of IT services to government and commercial customers.


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  Emerging Data Solution – Number 319, Thadeua Rd. Unit 26, Chomphet Neui Village, Sisattanak, Vientiane, Laos.

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