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Talking dirty: part four

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3rd Oct 2007
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By Stuart Lauchlan, news and analysis editor

Of course, there are those companies and organisations which can point to successful data quality initatives, including UK police forces. According to Police Data Quality 2006-2007, published by the Audit Commission, nine out of ten regional police authorities are performing well when it comes to keeping their databases up-to-date and accurate, a significant improvement on the 81 percent rate recorded over the previous year and the 21 percent level seen in the 2003-2004 period.

Through their adoption of data quality systems, police forces are better able to share accurate information, including names and addresses, with other local authorities, including councils, fire, housing and environmental services, the report concluded. "Data quality may sound bureaucratic, but it is about the police listening to the public, recording correctly the information they give and acting on it," says Steve Bundred, the chief executive of the Audit Commission. "Ensuring that officers concentrate their efforts on the right areas is also important. Our report shows that the clarity of the information recorded by the police continues to improve."

In the private sector a good example is AMEC which designs, delivers and supports its customers’ investments in capital assets in oil and gas facilities, transport systems or schools and hospitals. A typical oil or gas platform takes AMEC three years to design, commission and construct with a large team working for up to six months to prepare data at a cost of up to $2 million per platform, with up to three platforms in construction at any one time.

When complete, AMEC hands a structured information set related to platform build and operation to its customers. With up to three million data records plus 80,000 documents and 150,000 data/documents reference links, detailing everything from individual valves and pipes, to sophisticated software application codes, preparation of each handover is a massive undertaking.

The firm has now realised significant savings and gains in productivity with the use of data cleansing tools. “We know that dirty data is a problem but we took the strategic view to engineer this out of our processes rather than try a one-off exercise at the end,” says Peter Mayhew, information manager for AMEC Oil and Gas. “For our customers having high quality data when they acquire the platform has massive value in terms of operational cost savings.”

This month's stories:

Legal requirements and permission marketing

Marketing moves into the Age of Consent

Cutting through the data jungle

Top 10 data protection problems - and solutions

Data cleansing

Coming out in the wash: the importance of data cleansing

Data cleansing: the secret to a good night's sleep?

Data use

Is this the cure for business intelligence headaches?

Data application: getting personal

Third party data

Analytics: an internal or outsourced task?

Outsider information

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