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How Com Dev Data Goes Bad and How It Can Be Fixed

Updated: Jan 6, 2022


Database Structure Affects Quality of Data

Modern Community Development Data Management Systems (CDDMS) are typically highly relational. This means that instead of data such as entities/names and addresses being input each time an application is entered and stored redundantly for each record, they are instead stored a single time in a separate table and referenced by the application record. This allows a user to search for an existing address, parcel, or location to attach an application record to and choose from a list of existing names to set as an applicant, owner, contractor, or other. Of course, this is a bit of a simplification of the process so let's take a closer look to fully understand this concept.

Names and Addresses are two of the most common record types with bad data since they don't typically have truly unique identifiers to them in the real world. Hundreds of people in a town could share the same first and last name, and a County could even have two sites with the same address such as '100 Main St'. Some systems use an SSN or DL Num to track names but asking for that kind of PII is not typical of Community Development processes.

As someone who has managed hundreds of software conversions for municipalities, I have seen and converted a large majority of the software vendor systems out there. As a result, I have seen how each manages names and addresses. There are a couple who do some things a little different but nearly all of them use one of these 3 data schemes.