Data in the 21st century is a very different animal to the information problems and solutions faced just a few decades ago. The digital revolution has not only meant that unprecedented amounts of data are now being produced, but that this data has also been placed in the hands of the masses. Is it a good thing that the general public has access to all of this information? Could it even be beneficial for your business?
Even the most dedicated data capture team can sometimes struggle in the face of big data problems. The fact of the matter is, such a large volume of information is now being produced in fields like astronomy, biology and healthcare that a considerable amount of potentially useful data simply goes begging. It can be extremely difficult for any individual or small team to explore every possible avenue for research on a given subject, but the last thing you want is to miss out on data points that could add veracity or credence to your study. So, what can you do to get the most out of all of this ephemeral data?
Some current fields lack custom-built automated data capture processes to transform reams of disparate data into a single, manageable database or visualisation. Astronomy is just such a field, and with millions upon billions of galaxies out there to classify and categorise, the lack of an automated process can really hinder astronomers looking to further our knowledge of the universe. The website Galaxy Zoo have been looking to classify as many galaxies as possible over the last decade or so, and they have turned to the power of the crowd in order to do so. By calling on amateurs with an interest in astronomy, Galaxy Zoo have been able to amass a large amount of information that would otherwise have been out of their reach – it’s a very neat and effective solution.
The problem with crowdsourcing, however, is that any information generated by virtue of a crowd is going to be prone to human error and misinterpretation. Many hands may make light work when it comes to data capture, but another time-honoured adage also applies here – too many cooks spoil the broth. By turning to crowdsourcing you may well be able to lay your hands on data that would otherwise have been lost to you, but you’ll have to ask yourself just how much of that data is going to be accurate or useable. Fortunately, new data recognition software has worked to make automated data capture processes much more effective and far-reaching, meaning that data capture problems that may previously have seemed beyond the ken of a mere computer program can now be completed quickly, cost-effectively and above all, accurately. Take a look at our range of research data capture solutions to ensure that you don’t get lost in data, or worse, resort to approaching it in a less than effective way…