What are the objectives of this study?

Social networks are big news these days. Yet for all the excitement about social networks there are still many unanswered questions about how social networks form and evolve; how information, ideas and preferences spread through networks; and the influence that our ties to others can have on our own attitudes and behaviors. From an Engineering perspective, we hope to improve the quality of service people receive through wireless and cell phone networks by using information about the social network in the design and operation of wireless networks.

To do our research, we need to know about people’s social ties, that is with whom people communicate and interact. To gather this information, we are providing 200 first-year Notre Dame students with Android powered smartphones and phone plans for two years. These devices will be specially programmed to capture in the background information on communication events (i.e. text, voice call, email, Facebook posts) and the proximity between the devices. We will not collect information on the content of telephone calls, emails, text messages, Facebook posts or other forms of communication. We are collecting information on who people communicate with, when, and how in order to map people's social networks.

Through the use of short surveys either conducted through the smartphone or through the website, we will also collect information on attitudes, preferences, and activities.

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Who can participate in this study, and what do they need to do to join?

We have decided to open up this study to all first year Notre Dame students. Initially the study was limited to first year students in four residence halls, but we have decided to send email invitations now to all first year students.

From those students who register on this website, we will be selecting 200 students to participate in this study.

To be considered for participation in the study, a first year Notre Dame student has to do:

From the list of registered and verified students we will select 200 students to participate so that we have a representative sample of first year Notre Dame students in terms of gender and residence halls.

Those selected to be in the study will be asked to download the consent and assent forms, read them, complete them, sign them, and send us a signed copy to netsense@nd.edu or by fax to (574) 631-5952. For detailed instructions for submitting consent and assent forms click here.

Once we have received and verified the consent and assent forms, the student will officially be in the study.

Students who are under 18 are required to have their parent or guardian read, complete and sign the Parental Consent Form and the student must read, complete and sign the Student Assent Form.

If the student is 18 or over, they need to read, complete and sign the Student Consent Form.

If under 18, download these forms

Parental Consent Form

Student Assent Form

18 and older

Student Consent Form

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Information about the smartphone and usage

Through this study, 200 students will receive a Nexus S 4G smartphone, a high-end smart phone. Thanks to a subsidy from Sprint, participating students will have a free plan that includes:

Students accepted into the study will receive their phone upon their arrival on campus.

It will not be possible to transfer old cell phone numbers to the new phones. Each student will receive a new phone number when they receive their phone.

Participating students will be able to use this phone until the end of the academic year in May of 2013 . They will be able to use this phone for all their communication and other needs (surfing the internet, listening to music, apps, playing games, taking pictures and video). The phone can be taken with the student wherever they go. It can be used anywhere in the United States, but the phones can not be used internationally, and participating students can not make calls and send texts to people outside the US.

An orientation session will be held for all participating students during which more information about the study, the phone, and the support system will be available. Information on the Nexus S 4G phone can be found on Sprint’s web site and its support page. We will also create a webpage on this site with tips and advice on this phone's features.

Two undergraduate Notre Dame students will be working with us to provide 24/7 support to participating students. Participants will meet them during the orientation session and information on how to contact them will be available through this website.

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What are the responsibilities and obligations of the participating students?

We ask that the student:

A standard insurance policy provided by Sprint is included as part of the free plan. Damage beyond the base insurance plan is assumed to be the student's responsibility. If the phone is no longer usable because it has been either lost or damaged, the student may be responsible for up to $150 so that we can supply them with another Nexus S 4G phone and they can continue to participate in the study.

Students are responsible for any roaming charges and for the cost of any apps downloaded from the Android Market that are not free. Sprint has national coverage but the coverage is not as extensive as its competitors. Hense, there are places where roaming charges will apply. In such cases, the phone will prompt the user when roaming charges would apply. Around the Notre Dame area, there is nearly complete coverage. Furthermore, most major cities have complete coverage. Click here to view Sprint coverage.

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What information will be collected?

We will capture the following information from the smartphone:

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Questions about privacy concerns

We have taken numerous precautions to ensure security and privacy. The professors who are in charge of this project have worked on other projects involving personal data and developed highly secure procedures for handing such data. All procedures that we will use to collect, transmit, and store the data have been reviewed and approved by the University of Notre Dame's Institutional Review Board. Our specific security measures include:

Research publications developed from these data will focus on general network patterns and not on people's specific networks. We are interested in network patterns and not the specifics of any single individual’s network or usage patterns. Our research and publications will focus on aggregated patterns (e.g., differences between men and women, business and engineering majors).

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If students or their parents have questions about the study, who should they contact?

You can contact us at anytime at netsense@nd.edu or at (574) 631-7095.

You can also contact any of the four principle researchers at any time. If you have questions about privacy and security we can answer them or you can contact Tracey Poston, Director of Research Compliance and Institutional Review Board Administrator, The Office of Research at the University of Notre Dame. Also administrators and advisors at Notre Dame’s First Year of Studies program are aware of our study. If you have any questions or concerns you can contact Ms. Lisa Walenceus, Communications and Information Coordinator for the First Year of Studies program.

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Who is conducting this research and how is it being supported?

The research team consists of four Notre Dame professors, two in sociology (Professors David Hachen and Omar Lizardo) and two computer science and engineering (Professors Aaron Striegel and Christian Poelleabaur). We work in two Notre Dame research centers: The Inter-Disciplinary Center for Network Science and Applications (iCeNSA) and the Wireless Institute. Our research is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

The Team

David Hachen

Senior Investigator

574 631-5745 personal website

Omar Lizard

Senior Investigator

574 631 1855 personal website

Aaron Striegel

Senior Investigator

574 631 6896 personal website

Christian Poellabauer

Senior Investigator

574 631 9131 personal website

Shu Liu

Research Assistant

Lei Meng

Research Assistant

Yingxin Jiang

Research Assistant

Salvador Aguinaga

Research Assistant

Chris Miller

Research Assistant

Mike Penta

Research Assistant

Tips and Solutions to common phone problems

Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity

When on campus, especially in buildings, your phone will be able to connect to the Internet via the local Wi-Fi network, which is faster and more reliable then a 3G connection. If for some reason the phone is unable to connect to the Wi-Fi network, because of poor connection or if you leave campus, it will automatically switch to the 3G connection. You do not need to turn off the Wi-Fi to do so.

If your phone is having problems connecting to the internet, or if you are unsure how to check if your Wi-Fi is turned on, please contact us and we’ll assist you in getting everything working.

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Google Voice

We are strongly recommending that you use Google Voice for voicemail (click on ‘mobile app’). It provides a number of features that students have found useful, like visual voicemail and transcription of voicemail. To install it, search for Google Voice from the Marketplace store and download it. After download, launch the application and it will provide you with instructions on what to do next. In order for Google Voice to connect with your phone, there is a phone call to Google Voice that is very short (less than one second).

To see if everything worked we suggest that you call your phone from a different number to see if it gets routed to Google Voice and the voicemail. If it is working right, you will hear a note that the Google Voice number cannot respond and you can leave a message. Try leaving a message and you should receive an e-mail shortly that contains a transcription (speech to text) of the voicemail message. If you have problems with this please email us and we will arrange a time to help you set this up.

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Phone Freezing up Randomly

If your phone freezes up or doesn't seem to be working, take off the back cover, remove the battery, replace it, and put the back cover on. Then power up the phone. Nine times out of ten this has solved the problem.

If this continues to be an issue, please contact us so we may look at the problem.

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Step-by-Step instructions setting up Wi-fi, adding Gmail, adding contacts, and how to sync your music (including iTunes)

For instructions on how to setup these functions on your phone, please look at this document.

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When do our night and weekend minutes start?

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What apps do we suggest you downloadt and install?

These are all avaible free from the Google Marketplace

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