06 May 2019
Information and Communications Technologies
Data-Waste—A New Challenge in this Era
The header image was purchase on Istock.com and is protected by copyright.
In the current era, known as the digital era, humans are dealing with many challenges. Specifically, as can be seen, the quantity of tools that produce or use data, such as social media, applications, etc., is increasing dramatically. All of us produce and use a huge amount of data every day in our lives, knowing or not knowing their importance and how they are affecting us.
Before going further, it would be interesting to know exactly what data is. Data can be defined along different lines (e.g. business, computer, etc.). According to the Cambridge Dictionary “Data” is defined as:
“Information, especially facts or numbers, collected to be examined and considered and used to help decision-making or information in an electronic form that can be stored and used by a computer.”
Based on this definition, we can see that data can help in decision-making. Also, data and information can be computed and produced in both off-line and on-line forms, and the characteristics of data can increase their importance.
The New Currency
The author believes that, nowadays, the most valuable thing in the world, or even ‘Today’s Currency” is not more gold, oil, etc. but Data! Because data can be used for anything that affects our lives, such as help us in the decision-making process, increase marketing opportunities and corporate productivity, affect state policies, and so much more. The number of people using data producing tools or applications is growing rapidly. A recent research conducted in 2017 showed that more than 3.811 billion users are accessing internet services, and that 2.907 billion are active social media users, 4.960 billion are mobile users only, and 2.698 billion are active mobile social media users.
With such numbers, we can see how much data and information are being produced just online, and mostly by humans; other information and data are produced and used by machines offline. The question now is why data is so important. Many reasons and perspectives can be described when using and analyzing the data, some of them as follow:
- Fit for the purpose
- Better continuity
- Support safeguards
- Promote transparency
- Cost saving
- Stand out from the crowd
How much is too much?
Since data is one of the most valuable things in the world, it must be used efficiently and effectively, with little waste. The concept of data waste here means that machines and humans both produce unnecessary data and information, or import more than necessary data and information, increasing computation time.
Based on this, the author proposes the first definition of the concept of Data-Waste, as follows:
“Data-Waste is any type of data and information, produced either by purpose or not, that is discarded after primary use, or is worthless, defective and of no use.”
The aim of proposing this definition is to recognize the kind of data and information to be considered as data waste, because the first step in avoiding data waste is to be able to identify what kind of data and information are wasteful. One perspective is to reduce the computation time that can be affecting our daily lives, such as:
- Reducing computation time in our personal devices (mobile, laptop, etc.);
- Reducing computation time of corporate servers and machines, which can highly impact the decision-making process of companies;
- Optimizing the complexity of data models by importing only the right data and no unnecessary data;
- Optimizing the decision-making process in crisis and risk management by providing the right data and information.
These are just a few benefits of reducing data waste in our daily lives. This research is part of a wider research on organizing data and, in the future research, the next step, the author will propose a framework or typology on how to identify and classify data waste by defining its characteristics.