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A datum is used as an established point of reference for the purpose of generating meaningful measuring, synchronizing and positioning the data. Without a reference point, measurements are relatively insignificant. It is the same for our data. Without centralized storage, our data are often so scattered across our folders, desktops, servers and collectors that they become unrelated and meaningless.
When we choose to place our data in a database, we are in some ways mimicking the effective relationships provided by a datum. With a centralized mechanism, the data can be related to processes that are intrinsic to the functions of our organizations. A database-oriented back end to your software applications, for example, affords you the ability to pre-fill existing information about clients and projects. You can use drop-downs to push information from your database to standard company documents, software applications and maps, and vice versa. In other words, spatial information from your GIS can be used as inputs in non-GIS applications-a reverse GIS model, so to speak.
Using database technology or a centralized data source to harness key information gives you more control over your data and not the other way around. As surveyors, you already understand the power of referencing your data. Now take your data out of CAD and GIS and push the boundaries of your proprietary applications. Do not stop at the measurement and display stage; bring your data full circle, closest to its true potential.
What do you think? Is centralized data storage important? What are the biggest barriers to this type of "data referencing"? Please share your thoughts below.