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Behind the light rail survey

By Charlotte Harper - 21 October 2015 34

Survey methodology

Surveys into whether we Canberrans are for or against the ACT Government’s planned light rail system have been in the news all week, and many of our readers have questioned the research methods used.

We contacted Piazza Research, the Phillip-based company contracted to undertake surveys on light rail for the ACT Government, to find out how they operate and seek answers to questions like these from one of our readers:

“If a lot of the calls are made to mobile numbers (which are unlisted), so how does the pollster know which mobile number to call?”

“There must be a list provided of numbers that relate to Canberra people only so who is providing that list?”

“If random calls are being made to mobile numbers does this mean people in Perth or Darwin or Woop Woop are having their answers logged?”

Piazza Research director Grant Piazza says any research undertaken by his company has to be transparent and able to be critiqued.

He says Piazza Research includes mobile numbers in its sampling for phone surveys because there is a known age skew in using only landlines.

The pollster says his company uses an industry-certified supplier of phone numbers for research purposes, the same supplier used by market research giants like Nielsen and Newspoll. The name of the supplier is commercial in confidence.

The supplied numbers come initially from phone companies and are regularly tested using digital methods for geolocality and validity. Piazza says many mobile phone numbers arrive from the industry-certified supplier with geolocality data attached, but in any case Piazza Research asks for suburb of residence during the survey and removes those not in ACT from the sample.

To start with, Piazza Research receives a list of numbers that is much larger than needed then digitally selects a random sample to call. If skews are detected, they weight the data using a statistical procedure to remove the skew so results can be generalised to the ACT population.

The company stores caller data and responses in a secure server in Canberra. Those interviewed remain anonymous and are not identified during the research. Piazza Research does not identify individuals in any research project without their informed and specific consent.

The company is a quality certified social and market research organisation (ISO 20252) governed by rules set by the industry’s peak body, the Association of Market and Social Research Organisations (AMSRO). Piazza says ‘Mickey Mouse’ researchers can’t get into AMSRO. Piazza Research is also governed by its professional body, the Australian Market and Social Research Society (AMSRS). Every ISO-certified firm’s senior staff must be members of this organisation.

Piazza Research is audited every year to ensure their research methodology is correct.

As researchers, they don’t care whether the results are negative or positive for the client, they care whether the result is accurate and representative, Grant Piazza says.

Individual researchers may have views of their own, but when they design a research question it goes through 15 technical checks (to ensure it is useful, easy to understand, comprehensive enough and unbiased among other things).

Survey consultants design and check questions then a colleague checks and edits them. Often Piazza Research will run a pilot or test survey to verify that in a real situation people understand the questions and that the questions are appropriate.

Interviewers are trained. They’re not telemarketers and Piazza Research never engages in sales activity on behalf of its clients. It only collects information for research, Grant Piazza says.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s Your opinion?


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34 Responses to
Behind the light rail survey
miz 9:06 pm 12 Nov 15

At the recent forum the proponent for light tail refused to answer a direct question as to whether she would support rapid bus transit if the government decided to go with its own advice and go with buses. This tells me that they are not really interested in improving public transport for the greater good, they just reely reely want trams.
And they really, really do NOT want to discuss any comparison between light rail and buses (because it is so obvious that most people realise we actually have buses right now and it would be far less costly to simply build on the present system).
So watch out for survey questions that attempt to re-frame buses vs trams as ‘integrated public transport.’ In other words, less direct routes, more transfers and longer travel times. It’s crap and they know it, which was why the proponent was so evasive.

dungfungus 8:56 pm 12 Nov 15

bj_ACT said :

With another article in the Canberra Times today regarding the Light Rail survey I am surprised the issue has gone so quiet here on Riotact. Maybe it’s the pro rail people who consistently raise the light rail not the other way round.

Mr Piazza from Piazza research has defended his poll techniques, but in my opinion his claims are spurious. The changes to the questions as detailed in the original article totally skew the survey towards positive benefits for light rail.

If the Light Rail Minister is going to use the survey to claim that the majority of canberran’s support the light rail expenditure, then ask the question.

Do you support the ACT Government’s proposal to spend $780 million on the implementation of a Light Rail line between Gungahlin and Civic to improve public transport?

Don’t dress it up with, Would you support spending extra money on light rail if you knew it led to long term benefits for Canberra?

There are some big egos about to deflate over the denial that the project is a dud.

Mello 4:47 pm 12 Nov 15

I am wondering why, if the light rail project is going to bo so fantastic, they are upgrading the roundabout? I am just wondering when the numpties at Parliament House will realise that Canberra is not a public transport friendly city?

HenryBG 1:06 pm 12 Nov 15

bj_ACT said :

If the Light Rail Minister is going to use the survey to claim that the majority of canberran’s support the light rail expenditure, then ask the question.

Do you support the ACT Government’s proposal to spend $780 million on the implementation of a Light Rail line between Gungahlin and Civic to improve public transport?

Don’t dress it up with, Would you support spending extra money on light rail if you knew it led to long term benefits for Canberra?

I don’t understand the relevance of getting opinions on this from random people off the street – the question needs to be answered by somebody who has access to the financials and the expertise to properly analyse them.
Whatever they say, I would adopt as my opinion.
Anybody who gives an opinion without taking expert advice is talking rubbish.

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