Databases and data capture
Why use a database?
- Databases can store very large numbers of records efficiently (they take up little space).
- It is very quick and easy to find information [information: data with context or meaning ].
- It is easy to add new data [data: information without context, eg a list of students with numbers beside their names is data, when it's made clear that those numbers represent their placing in a 100 metre race, the data becomes information ] and to edit or delete old data.
- Data can be searched easily, eg 'find all Ford cars'.
- Data can be sorted easily, for example into 'date first registered' order.
- Data can be imported into other applications [application: applications serve a specific purpose, eg Microsoft Word is used for word processing ], for example a mail-merge letter to a customer saying that an MOT test is due.
- More than one person can access the same database at the same time - multi-access [multi-access: a system that can be used by several users simultaneously via a local area network (LAN) ].
- Security may be better than in paper files.
When a database holds details about people, it's likely to include their first name, surname and their date of birth. In addition to this, specialist information [information: data with context or meaning ] is stored depending on the database's intended use.
- The police have details of all known criminals in a database, eg crimes they've comitted.
- Schools use a database to store details about their pupils, eg how many days they've been off school sick.
- A hospital will store details of all its patients in a database, eg a history of their health issues.
- The Government uses a database to store records of people's income tax payments.
- A database is used to keep track of all the drivers in central London who have (or haven't) paid the Congestion Charge.
In the case of the Congestion Charge database, if someone hasn't paid the congestion charge, a fine will be issued. The database would play an integral part in automating the process.
Information stored in the other databases listed above could be used in similar ways.