How to set up CATI@home

In our documentation there is information about the NIPO CATI Client configuration, but in this news item you will find a quick overview on how to set up your CATI system in such a way that you can have your interviewers connecting from any location. Very useful if you want to give your interviewers the flexibility to work from home, or to give a partnering firm access to your CATI system so you can do projects together while working on the same server.

So, what are the steps to set up CATI@Home? To start with the obvious, your CATI@Home interviewers need an internet connection to be able to connect to the NIPO CATI Master. Since they will connect through the internet, the connection protocol for the NIPO CATI Client needs to be set to PureTcpIp. We advice you to place your CATI Master behind a firewall in which you open the specific port of the NIPO CATI Master. In a default configuration this port is 8001. The port the NIPO CATI Master is listening to can be changed from the CATI Manager › File › Configure › Master.

Settings on the CATI Master machine
Remote CATI Clients cannot simply connect to the CATI Master, but require additional verification in the CATI Master. The CATI Master will keep a list of so called StationKeys for which it will allow incoming remote connections. Connections are recognized as remote connections based on the IP addresses of NIPO CATI Master and NIPO CATI Client. The StationKey of the incoming connection needs to match a known StationKey value on the CATI Master.

In order to arrange this additional verification you will need to add some registry settings to the CATI Master. These registry settings are all stringvalues to be added under \HKLM\SOFTWARE\NIPO\CatiMaster or in case of a 64 bit operating system under \HKLM\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\NIPO\CatiMaster.

Add the following registry settings:

  • StationKeyDatabase=NipoFieldworkSystem
    This is the database in which you store the StationKey values.
  • StationKeyTable=Interviewer
    This is the table in the database where the StationKey values are best stored. By using the Interviewer table you can easily use the NIPO FMS Client as an interface to configure the values per connection.
  • StationKeyTableKey=AuthenticationKey
    This is the fieldname in the interviewer table where the actual StationKey per connection is stored. If you choose the fieldname ‘AuthenticationKey’ be aware that you cannot assign values to this field manually, but the StationKey value will then be derived from the interviewer’s SocialSecurityNumber. If you do not use the SocialSecurityNumber field, you may find it easier to manually add a new nvarchar field to the interviewer table in your database and use that field instead as the StationKeyTableKey.
  • StationKeyTableStation=AuthenticationStation
    This field is used to store the computer name of the remote NIPO CATI Client machine. Initially this field is empty, but after the first successful connection through CATI@Home setup, this field will be filled with the computer name of the interviewer machine. Consecutive connections will not only check if the StationKey of the interviewer matches the one known to the NIPO CATI Master, but also the computer name must match. This way you can make sure the interviewer always connects from the same machine. In case the interviewer would need to use another computer at home, you can simply remove the computer name for the interviewer in the NIPO FMS Client.
  • StationKeyTableStatus=AuthenticationStatus
    This is an optional field. When used it allows you to easily toggle the activation / deactivation of the specific StationKey. Once configured you need to set this field to 1 to allow an incoming connection using this StationKey. Setting it to 0 would disable that StationKey. You could use this for instance in cases where an interviewer will not be working for you for a certain period, but might return at a later stage.
  • StationKeyTableRemoteTelnr =RemoteTelnr
    This field is only relevant in case your using a centralized Dialer system with the NIPO CATI Master Dialer API. This allows you to specify the home telephone number of the interviewer which the dialer should use to call the interviewer. Note there are three ways to specify the telephone extension of the interviewer and they are handled in the following order: an argument on the command line of the NIPO CATI Client with -TELNR, in the RemoteTelnr field in the database and configured as extension in the NIPO CATI/Web manager.

Restart the NIPO CATI/Web Master
After adding the registry settings and checking the port number of the NIPO CATI Master, you will need to restart the NIPO CATI/Web Master service to activate the new settings.

Prepare a remote CATI connection in NIPO FMS Client
Open the NIPO FMS Client and go the interviewer you want to enable to connect remotely. In the ‘Details’ view you may need to change the view to actually show the Authentication fields. Right-click on the page and from the popup dialog select ‘Fields…’ This brings up a dialog in which all fields of the interviewer table are shown, but only the ones ticked are shown on the interviewer’s ‘Details’ page. Make sure to tick the fields for AuthenticationKey (or the fieldname of the field you added to the Interviewer table), AuthenticationStation and AuthenticationStatus. And when a dialer is used tick RemoteTelnr as well. Then click ‘OK’ and the fields are shown on the interviewer’s Detail page.

  • If you make use of the SocialSecurityNumber, you can click the button ‘Create Key’ next to the AuthenticationKey field. This creates a unique key of 256 characters for that interviewer.
  • When you defined another field as the AuthenticationKey field, you can type in a unique Key yourself in that specific field.
  • set the AuthenticationStatus to 1.
  • leave AuthenticationStation empty.
  • when using a dialer system: specify the remote telephone number of the interviewer.

Configure the remote CATI Client application
The remote CATI Client machine uses the normal CATI Client software with in addition the value of the StationKey. You have to define yourself what is the best way to get the software on the interviewer’s home computer; you could for instance prepare a client installation including the shortcut and make a self-extracting zip file and email/ftp that to your interviewers.

There are 2 ways you can specify the key on the NIPO CATI Client; either by adding a parameter to the shortcut: -KEY xxxxxx, or by adding an entry Settings=xxxxxx to the [OdQes] section of the niposys.ini file (where xxxxxx represents the actual AuthenticationKey as specified for the interviewer). Since this Key value can be a long string, it is preferred to add the settings=xxxxxx to the niposys.ini file. Note when the key is used on the command line it should be present as the first argument.

The shortcut to the CATI Client then looks like this:
"C:\your path here\OdQesu.exe" /N /P PureTcpIp
Of course, should be the IP address of your NIPO CATI Master, and 8001 is the port number as defined above. And you may also use the other normal parameters like ? /SIZE depending on your preference.

Test the connection
By itself, the above should enable access for the remote interviewer, so go ahead and try to connect. After successful contact to the CATI Master, check the interviewer details in the NIPO FMS Client, and you will see the computer name in the AuthenticationStation field. The workstation is now successfully configured for CATI@Home use!

Remark: Even though we use the interviewer table to store the StationKey values, there is no specific link between the interviewer number and the StationKey itself. Using the StationKey is only a control mechanism to determine if a certain remote NIPO CATI Client is allowed to connect or not. Once the connection is established, the interviewer could theoretically still logon with any interviewer number. It is however good practice to use StationKeys as described above, because each StationKey will then only be used by 1 interviewer which makes management of the StationKeys much easier.