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Data collection is the way of assembling and estimating data on targeted factors in an established and methodical design, which at that point empowers one to answer applicable inquiries, assess results and make important decisions post data processing and analysis. Data collection is an avenue of research in all fields of education including social and physical sciences, business and humanities. While strategies differ widely, the significance of guaranteeing precision and accuracy of information continues as before. The primary objective of data collection is to capture quality data that brokers room for analysis and sound decision making. Data collection is highly integral to the integrity and significance of research work. A data collection system is an application of computation that aids the process of collection of data permitting exclusive and structured data to be assembled in a methodical fashion that enables data processing and analysis to be performed and facilitates decision making. The data collection system accepts data from the user and authorizes it before committing them to databases for storage.

The computer software that is used in the collection of data for data processing is categorized into one of the following practical forms-

  • Questionnaire or survey
  • Data registry
  • Case management system
  • Performance assessment system
  • Quizzes and Examinations
  • Online forms and reporting system

Methods of Data Collection for Data Processing

With the continuation of a groundbreaking advancement in technology, a major volume of the data gets stored in the form of electronic document files, PDF files, digital forms, emails, codes, web content and more. However, a significant volume of data continues to get accumulated in the form of handwritten documents, manually filled reports, and forms etc. Thus, there is no uniformity in the stage of data collection for data processing. Elucidated below are 10 effective ways to collect data uniformly to facilitate the process of analysis.

1. Manual Collection of Data for Data Processing

In the process of manual data collection, the input data is entered by the operator manually using traditional input devices like mouse, keyboard, touch screen, graphics tablets, tracker balls etc for typing in the data as text and figures using particular software applications like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint etc. This method of collection of data for data processing is labor intensive and takes up a lot of time as well. Such time consuming and labor intensive tasks are not in favor of business operational efficiency. And as such business organizations are investing in their migration to automated techniques and methods of data collection. Such methods are more accurate in their collection and facilitate more efficient data processing and decision making.

2. Automated Collection of Data for Data Processing

Automated collection of data for data processing involves the utilization of digital technology for the capture of data. The initial cost of implementation of this method is very high and requires a high amount of investment for the purchase of technologies but with the proceeding of the project, it is duly observed that the cost of operation has gotten significantly decreased owing to the low requirement of manpower. Automated collection of data for data processing includes the employment of several technologies like OCR, OMR, ICR and more.

3. Optical Character Recognition or OCR Technology of Data Collection

OCR is characterized by the recognition of written or printed text characters by the computerized system. This involves scanning of the text character by character, analysis of the scanned image and consequent translation of the scanned image code into character code like ASCII code for the purpose of data processing. The OCR technology is used in the conversion of several different types of documents in machine printed formats that includes PDF document files, image files, scanned documents etc. into editable and searchable data.

4. Intelligent Character Recognition or ICR Technology of Data Collection

ICR technology aids in the recognition and capturing of handwritten characters from electronic image files. It is the translation of characters written in manual text to characters in machine-readable form. In practice, ICR is mostly similar to OCR and is often utilized in combination during data collection for processing. As text written manually varies in handwriting and style, it happens that ICR is not exactly accurate and slightly more complicated as compared to the other technologies. However, with continuous evolution and development in technology and increase in the number of tasks, the accuracy of Intelligent Character Recognition increases. This process of self-learning and self-evolution differentiates it from the several other technologies and makes it “intelligent”.

5. Optical Mark Reading or OMR Technology of Data Collection

OMR is the process of data collection from humans by the recognition of marks on a document termed as OMR sheet. The process of data collection is achieved by the use of a hardware device or scanner that detects transmittance of limited light or reflection through or on the OMR sheet. OMR permits the collection of data for data processing from hundreds and thousands of OMR documents within the span of just an hour. OMR technology possesses the capability to differentiate between unmarked and marked boxes and hence is used for the collection of data through the boxes or bubbles that are manually marked in the document.

6. Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR)Technology of Data Collection

MICR is a technology is a technology that is used in the verification of the originality or legitimacy of paper documents. The technology makes use of special magnetic ink in printing characters on the original document. The information can be encoded in the form of magnetic characters. Magnetic Ink Character Recognition (MICR)technology is used in the recognition of characters. It refers to the recognition of characters that are specially formatted and printed in magnetic ink by machines. This technology is widely employed in the banking industry for the accelerated processing of bank documents, checks etc. The additional advantage of MICR technology of data collection is that the data can be read by machines as well as humans. The utilization of MICR in data collection can enhance confidentiality and security and minimize theft and losses. If for instance a document gets forged a check is produced as a color photocopy of the original then that counterfeit check will be of no use as the photocopied lines will not respond to magnetic fields or will definitely produce inaccurate and incorrect codes when scanned to retrieve the information. Even a legit check gets rejected if it is indicated by the MICR that the account owner has a history of writing faulty checks.

7. Magnetic Stripe Cards Technology of Data Collection

Magnetic stripe cards are used to store data with the help of magnetic properties of certain substances. The cards possess stripes of magnetic materials based on iron. A magnetic stripe card is basically any type of card that possesses data embedded in a particular strip made of iron specks and encased in a plastic film. The front face of the magnetic stripe card contains information like the name of the cardholder and the name of the company that has issued it. The back of the card holds the precious magnetic stripes. The magnetic cards are slightly larger than 2-3 inches and are made of durable paper or plastic. A few examples of magnetic stripe cards include debit cards, credit cards, driver’s license, employee ID cards, gift cards and more. When this magnetic stripe card is swiped at a card reader machine to decode the data contained in the stripes and enable the transaction. The magnetic stripe is composed of three horizontal tracks where each track holds a different volume and type of data to be processed and analyzed. The tracks consist of the information like card number, account holder’s name, date of expiration, code of card verification, service code. Credit cards mostly contain the first two tracks. Magnetic stripe cards have often been involved in fraudulence where hackers skim the cards and copy all the confidential information and then create duplicate cards to get access to the card holder’s bank account. The EMV microchip card is now replacing the magnetic stripe cards to ensure more security and strict confidentiality of the data collected by the cards.

8. Smart Cards Technology of Data Collection

Smart cards are cards that fit into the pocket and are embedded with integrated circuit chips. They can function on a contactless basis or in contact with card reader machines. The smart cards have a greater memory than magnetic cards and can be extensively used for collection and storage of personal identification data, authentication data, biometric data and more. When the smart card is swiped at a reader machines automatic transfer of information is enabled and the data on the card can be accessed for processing and analysis. The smart card resembles credit cards in shape and size but is entirely different in its working functionality. Smart cards possess an embedded microprocessor under a gold-encased pad on one side of the card which functions similar to the magnetic stripe on the credit card. However, unlike the magnetic stripe data that can be easily read, modified, deleted or tampered with, the data on smart cards are highly secure and protected against leakage of sensitive data. Smart cards possess up to 8kB of RAM, 346 kb of ROM and 256 kb of PROM, and a microprocessor of 16 bits. The smart card makes use of a serial interface and is powered by external sources like card readers.

9. Web Data Capture Technology of Data Collection

The World Wide Web is composed of a massive volume of data. Organizations find this information very useful and use it for a variety of purposes. In traditional methods retrieval of web data takes place through browsing and searching with keywords. These are intuitive methods that do not return accurate results. But it is extremely essential to collect the data from the internet and get access to a whole wealth of information. This can only be achieved through web capturing. A few important tools that can be used for data collection from the World Wide Web include Uipath, Import.io, Kimono, Screen scraper and more. Uipath offers excellent web scraping services from HTML, AJAX, XML, and Java applets, PDF, Silverlight, and Flash. Once the data has been successfully collected it gets exported to Excel, .NET Datatable, CSV and so on. Import.io is known for its capability of transforming web pages into data in coded form. Users are permitted to scrap the data from an unlimited number of pages on the internet. The data that is collected through extraction is stored in the cloud servers of Import.io for processing and analysis. Kimono can do a number of different tasks like driving applications, visualizations, and models using data in just a matter of seconds. Kimono has an intelligent extractor that recognizes web content and quickly extracts the information to be processed.

10. Voice Recognition Technology for Data Collection

Voice recognition is the process of conversion of speech to text. Data is collected as voice recognition from data sources like dictation systems, small control systems and etc.

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