I example an electricity meter reading form.

I had to find the best way to get data into the database because I wanted to turn information into data on the computers. To successfully capture data I must follow a two-part process. > The information has to be obtained. Information has to be recorded, and then converted into a form suitable for use with the computer system. > The data has to be entered onto the computer using an input device such as a keyboard. Manual methods of obtaining the data include data-capture forms and questionnaires. These are paper-based forms that need someone to write down information in a preset way.

This information is then put into the computers exactly as it is on the form. The Questionnaires usually need a human operator to key in the results by hand. However some data-capture forms require the operator to enter the information in code format, for example, the information is input automatically using an OMR device (Optical Mark Recognition). Examples of this are school registers and multiple choice answer sheets. Automatic data capture means collecting information from sensors, bar code readers and scanners.

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For example a temperature sensor records the temperature and stores this data until it is downloaded onto a computer for processing. A Turnaround Document is a semi-automatic system, for example an electricity meter reading form. The computer system prints a form showing the customer details with a space to record the meter reading. The reading is written on by hand and the form is then returned to the electricity company and the new data is then added to the customer record on the computer. Automatic and Manual Data Capture Systems.

Each of the methods has its advantages. An Automatic Data Capture System is faster and can be more accurate than a manual system. Also humans don’t have to be present so this means that this type of data capture is useful in dangerous or inaccessible places, (e. g. nuclear reactors) A Manual Data Capture System is sometimes necessary as information such as personal details can only be obtained when using a Manual Data Capture Systems. It is also cheaper than Automatic Data Capture Systems as less hardware and software is needed to obtain and input the information.

Designing my form. Data capture forms need careful designing as badly designed data capture forms can cause problems for the company it is being used for, however following the simple rules below a well designed form can be made: – ; Keep It Simple – Keep the layout simple and uncluttered, but leave enough space to write the answers that you require, and don’t put answer boxes too close together or the answers could get put in the wrong box by mistake. Keep your instructions on how to complete your form simple, write them in simple language.

It should be obvious to the reader what to do. Also the appearance should be interesting. This can be achieved by using different font styles and sizes can help so long as the form remains simple and uncluttered. > Keep It Useful – Keep the amount of information requested to a minimum. There’s no pint in requesting information that is already stored on the computer or asking for information that won’t be used. And if possible get people to record the information in a form suitable to enter onto the computer as data.

For example, people should answer the questions in the order that you will enter it into the database. > Keep It Accurate – The content of the form should be checked for accuracy and completeness before it is printed out (See Next Section on Data Verification) Also the form should be pre-tested with a small sample of respondents to make sure it provides accurate information and then if necessary the form should be amended and re-tested. Data Verification Data Verification ensures that the data is accurate and there are two main verification techniques, these are: –

> Proof-Reading – this is when a person reads the data that has been entered onto the system and compares it with the original. Any incorrectly entered data will be edited and then resaved and printed off correct. > Double Entry – this is when twice two different people enter the data. The computer then compares the two versions and any errors found are amended. Bearing all of the above in mind I set to work creating my data capture form. And as you can see throughout the next few pages it took a few attempts to get it right.