• Poster

Handheld Devices -- Field Data Collection and Transmission Techniques


Ganapathi, N. (2004, May). Handheld Devices -- Field Data Collection and Transmission Techniques. Presented at International Field Directors and Technologies Conference, Phoenix, AZ.


Handheld devices are best suited for quick door step interviewing of large number of people, because of their light weight and compact size. Presently, handheld devices are available with a very readable screen, good computational power, touch screen data entry, great battery life, and a system that is rugged and suited to use in all weather conditions. There are two major classes within the handhelds -- PDA devices, based on the Palm operating system (manufactured by Palm, HandSpring, Sony and others) and Pocket PCs, those based on Microsoft’s Windows CE operating system (manufactured by Compaq, HP, Casio, Fujitsu and others).

The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) uses Pocket PCs for screening data collection because of their rich development environment. Standard Microsoft development tools like Visual Basic and Visual C++ and a good database similar to Microsoft Access are available to use with Pocket PC. We developed a screening application in Visual Basic which will be used by the interviewers to collect small amount of house hold data on very large number of respondents. ( >70,000 household screenings per quarter; 5-15 minute screening).

Data transmission from a Pocket PC device could be implemented as either a direct modem dialup connection or by connecting the handheld to a laptop computer via the USB standard cradle. We use XML technology for transmitting data from the pocket PC, over the internet, to our database servers at RTI.

Our presentation will demonstrate the NSDUH screening application and data transmission from the pocket PC.

The NSDUH is a nationwide survey conducted annually by RTI International for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). It collects interview data from approximately 70,000 respondents across the United States. NSDUH is the primary source of information on the prevalence, patterns, and consequences of alcohol, tobacco, and illegal drug use and abuse in the general U.S. civilian non institutionalized population, age 12 and older.