QS Meetups are a great time to see demos, hear interesting show & tells, and talk to a few people after. With hundreds of members just in the local New York group it is impossible to meet everyone and hear about why they started tracking, get their thoughts on QS, or find out what tools/apps are popular. Consequently I created a survey to answer these questions and sent it out to the NY group. We received 102 responses that helped to paint a picture of who we are as a community. Many of my assumptions were confirmed, but there were also a few surprises. Let’s dig into the data!
Demographics & Basics
Age distribution: mean = 36.2 years old, youngest = 23 years old, oldest = 74 years old
Gender distribution: 67% male / 33% female
Currently working in a QS related company or have created a QS tool: 30%
Members who have a chronic health issue: 70%
Reflecting on the heavy male slant in the respondents made me wonder if there has been enough attention given to how QS tools could specifically help women. In the entire survey I neglected to mention any QS tools that are female-specific (such as pregnancy or menstrual cycle trackers), which is surely an area where self-tracking might play a prominent role.
We started by asking how many people self-track and what prompted them to start tracking. Ninety respondents, 94% of the sample, were actively engaged in a self-tracking practice. When we asked why individuals started self-tracking we found that in our sample the majority were interested in “understanding myself” or just plain curious. Given the common connection between QS practices and health we found it very interesting that health ranked fourth, tied with “work in the field or would like to start a business in the field.”
The top 10 most used tools were: Mint, Personal GoogleDoc/spreadsheet, Other, Foursquare, 23andMe, Fitbit, Runkeeper, Zeo, MyFitnessPal, and Goodreads with the Nike+ Fuelband and Lift just missing the top 10. Clearly personal tracking solutions are still prominent QS tools. I was surprised that over 20% of respondents had taken part in genome indexing through 23andMe, I didn’t realize how prominent this was in the QS community. (Click the image to see the breakdown of tools.)
Data Sharing & Privacy
Privacy is still important. Only 49% of respondents share their data with anyone and only 27% of respondents said they were ‘vey open’ to sharing their data with others.
Share data with someone else: 51%
Share data with a spouse/partner: 39%
Share data with a health professional: 14%
QS Tool Design Considerations
Over 60% of respondents said that the ability to export the data was important. Many of the major tools currently on the market do not allow you to easily export your data and you have to wonder if consumer pressure will finally get them to open up this data to the users. This also brings up two other points: first, whether there will be a standardization of data metrics across different platforms, and second, will there be a dominant platform or many smaller platforms that allow you to aggregate your data and help you derive meaning from the large amounts of data collected with various tools. (Editors note: Please see Gary’s wonderful post about “The QS World I’d Like to Live In“)
Thanks Andrew for putting out that survey and sending us the results. If you’re interested in more data from this survey you can view the full results and Andrew’s notes here.