Data and Information

Data and Information:

In computer terminology, the terms data and information are often used interchangeably although these two terms have different meanings. Data means raw facts and figures like any number, person’s name, sound, image, and graphics. For example, ‘2010’, ‘Andrew’, ’50’, and ‘E’ are data. The raw data is useless as it does not provide a proper meaning. Thus, raw data needs to be processed and converted into a meaningful and useful form referred to as information. That is, information is obtained by collecting and summarising data. For example, Andrew whose year of birth is 2010 has obtained 50 marks in English is an information about Andrew.

Information is an essential tool in every field of development as it is information based on which decisions are taken and the subsequent actions are performed thereafter. To take meaningful and useful decisions, various attributes of information are essential. These attributes are given below:

(1) Accurate- Information is considered useful when it is accurate at all levels as the final output depends on the accuracy of the information available. Information is accurate if it is reliable and represents ‘valid’ facts.

(2) Complete- Information is considered to be complete when it contains all the essential elements of the relevant subject areas. Note that to provide complete information, usually a large amount of data is gathered.

(3) Timely- Information is considered useful only if it is available on time. If the information is available after the specified time, its value becomes meaningless as the purpose for which it was required no longer exists. Similarly, information available ahead of time is not valuable as it will not be used for some time and thus, is of no use.

(4) Relevant- Information is considered relevant when it is available to a specific situation or individual. For example, a doctor needs records containing information about the patient whereas a teacher needs information about the students’ records. The information, which is relevant to a doctor is not relevant to a teacher.

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