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12/8/2005
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Data Schema, Database Population And Bears

Q: How are data schema like word processing programs? A: Nobody will use 95 percent of the features built into them.

Q: How are data schema like word processing programs?

A: Nobody will use 95 percent of the features built into them.Thus the analogy laid down by Deloitte Consulting's John Lucker, in a story we bring you about how to best organize data. "History has proven that many BI efforts have stalled or dragged on too long," Lucker writes, "as database architects sought the perfect data warehouse design, pursued ideal relational data normalization, or embellished the business or technical scope of the effort with features that would rarely, if ever, be utilized."

Sound familiar? Hopefully not. But even if you're not prone to over-detailing your data warehouses, you can probably learn a little from Lucker's tips on designing schema and populating databases in the ways that will yield premium data mining, predictive modeling and other business intelligence efforts. Want to learn more? See Part 1 in Lucker's series, on carrying out an information inventory. Both stories come to us courtesy of Insurance & Technology magazine, but the advice in them isn't limited to that industry. Not by a long shot.

Now for my favorite story of the month so far: Police departments across the United States now use analytical tools in their fight against street crime. So much so, in fact, that BI in one form or another has practically become de rigueur for large, metropolitan law enforcement agencies. Cops in Juneau, Alaska, however, are doing their colleagues in the lower 48 one better: They're using BI to tackle their ongoing bear intrusion problem. Check out the story from contributing writer Lamont Wood.

I live in New York, and from what I hear, our friends across the Hudson in New Jersey could probably take a page out of the Juneau playbook and use BI to get a handle on their growing black bear problem. That isn't a joke. New Jersey started a six-day special hunting season on black bears this week in response to growing complaints from Garden Staters about the beasts coming too close to humans. So I suppose those unexplained, seemingly out-of-place black bear scenes in The Sopranos weren't so far-fetched after all.

But I digress.

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