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5 Jahre Footprints Research mit Beat Fischer und Martin Bättig
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5 Years of Footprints Research

A conversation with Beat Fischer and Martin Bättig on the occasion of the "Footprints Resarch" anniversary

For five years, research institute intervista has been continuously researching the mobility patterns of 3’000 individuals (4’000 individuals since 2024). At the heart of the uninterrupted collection of data is the specifically developed smart phone app “Footprints Research.” Using comprehensive data, intervista processes the vast variety of issues, for instance on travel, work and shopping patterns of the Swiss.

The two brains behind “Footprints Research” – Beat Fischer and Martin Bättig – provide personal insights into the eventful five years in an interview.

Before we discuss the subject matter, I’d first like to know what mode of transportation you are using the most.

Martin: In terms of time, my feet. (laughs) In my leisure time, I frequently hike and climb mountains and I thus walk a lot.  When it comes to purely distances covered, I usually use my car.

Beat: In the past, I also used my car a lot, but I have mutated into a public transportation guy. At some point, I was simply tired of spending hours in traffic jams. (laughs)


First steps

How did you come up with the idea of an app-based measuring system back then?

Martin: Beat and I worked on mobility data in conjunction with market research projects all the time and soon realized that it would make more sense to collect this data continually and, if possible, automatically instead of doing complex diary studies. With app-based tracking you cannot only just generate a lot more data in the same time, but you can also do it without interruptions. Hence, we started to work on the development of an app concept.

BF: We recruited individuals through the partnership with intervista for the Footprints panel. The panel consisting of 3,000 app users was ready to roll out on October 1, 2018. Shortly thereafter we joined the management team of intervista.

How do you divvy up the tasks and roles?

MB: I am responsible for the technical aspects, for instance the app development and further development, data science and model development with the aim of distilling the completed steps and transportation usage from the generated raw data.

BF: I advise customers, develop tailored research projects based on their needs and manage them.  Moreover, I am also responsible for taking care of the Footprints panel with regard to the panel structure, the standard weighting and the post-recruitment process.

Different application possibilities

Your COVID-19 monitoring covering the Footprints panel has received international awards. Footprints is also established in the advertising sector as well as in the public sector. You even examined behavior patterns on the ski tracks. Where all is the panel being used?

Beat: Vast opportunities to use it come to mind. We can develop a tailored solution for every issue. For instance, we have detailed data for the development of transportation uses in Switzerland. Or, in accordance with Alain Berset’s call to “Stay home”, the research question we had to answer was: Do people really stay at home? We have been able to answer this question with our data as well. Or an example from the advertising industry: We can research the reach and impact of outdoor advertising or, for instance, whether guests of a festival have noticed sponsoring.

Which industries do your customers come from?

Beat: A variety of sectors. We are proud to say that four federal agencies and multiple universities are working with our data. However, advertising services, such as APG|SGA and Livesystems as well as companies representing a slew of sectors, such as retail, telecommunications or logistics, are now betting on the Footprints panel for the processing of a variety of issues.

Personal highlights

Looking back at the first five years of “Footprints Research”, which were your personal highlights?

Martin: I was very happy to see that so many people trusted in us and have installed the app. Ultimately, sharing such data requires lots of trust. From the start, we based “Footprints Research” on both, the Swiss Data Protection Act and GDPR conformity. Other positive news: Everything worked technically perfectly from the start.  The receipt of the GOR Practice Award is another highlight. I was also happy that we were able to develop the tailored MZMV app for the federal statistics office.

Beat: I agree. To be concise, every project is a highlight. I am also pleased with the long term customer relationships that have been established. For instance, we have measured the reach of the advertising platforms of Livesystems only at fueling stations five years ago. Now we collect data for their entire DOOH inventory.

Looking forward

Which developments have you planned for the near future?

Beat: First we will address the redesign of the app. Next, we’d like to expand the Footprints panel to 4000 individuals. And of course we continue on further optimizing the measurements and the models.

What does the team development look like? Are you still working together as two?

Beat: No, in fact we never worked as just a pair, we always had the support of the service team in panel recruitment and panelist support. Moreover, we have had the support of project managers for quite some time when it comes to the development and handling of projects. For a year, we have had Jan Guddal as a GIS specialist in the core team of Footprints, who, with his competencies, has also helped us get ahead tremendously in data science und machine learning.

Is it still fun to work with “Footprints Research” after five years?

Martin: Very much so. Every client inquiry poses new challenges for us. That continues to make our work interesting and exciting.

Beat: The projects we are handling are constantly getting bigger and more comprehensive. This shows relevancy, but also the application width of the method.  And we see that our data does have an impact in terms of political and entrepreneurial decision-making.

How do you celebrate your anniversary? With a crazy party featuring five bottles of Dom Perignon?

MB: At our age we’d rather go out for a great meal in a relaxed atmosphere. (laughs)

BF: That’s how it is. We will definitely toast to our success, but probably with a beer. (laughs)

5 Jahre Footprints Research mit Beat Fischer und Martin Bättig

Large data treasure for Swiss mobility

With the app-based measuring system “Footprints Research” and the data on mobility patterns in Switzerland collected over several years, intervista is responding to complex questions.

Beat Fischer
Beat Fischer
Do you have a question?

Get in touch with me. Feel free to call me or send me an e-mail message. I look forward to the dialogue with you!

Martin Baettigr
Martin Bättig
Do you have a question?

Get in touch with me. Feel free to call me or send me an e-mail message. I look forward to the dialogue with you!