The Global Sourcebook (formerly The Global Source Book for Name and Address Data Management) is an up to date resource containing an exhaustive library of information relating to international data naming conventions all in one place.
Maintained and published by Graham Rhind since 1994, it is now a free resource, supported by donations, sponsorship and advertising.
I caught up with Graham to learn more about the Sourcebook, how it can benefit readers and how it can be accessed for free.Access the FREE Sourcebook
Dylan Jones : When was the Global Sourcebook first created?
Graham Rhind : A version covering Europe appeared in 1994, for the whole world in 1999. It’s been constantly updated and a new version has been released twice per annum since then.
DJ : What does the Sourcebook include?
GR : The Global Sourcebook is a 'one-stop shop' for anybody involved in a practical way in international data management, so I include everything that, from my experience, I think people are going to need to know.
It includes personal name and address formats, postal code details, web form layouts, date and number formats, language information, place name exonyms, regular expressions for validating postal codes, postal code maps, lists of thoroughfare types and much more.
If the pdf version were printed it would use over 2500 A4 pages, which should give some idea of how much information the resource now contains!
DJ : Why the move to make it freely available?
GR : We’ve been moving with the times since 1994, first offering a printed book, then a pdf, then additionally an online version behind a paywall. Each new medium has allowed me to provide updates in a much more timely fashion.
People currently expect services and information to be provided free, and often would rather spend hundreds of hours pecking around the internet to get dodgy information than pay for better quality information.
At the same time I have found it frustrating that I can’t make the information more widely available and in so doing provide a resource where people can get solid and reliable data - there’s a vast amount of information around on the web, even in sources that people rely upon, such as Wikipedia, which is completely wrong; and this is a way for me to provide a place which, whilst it will still contain errors, can be relied upon.
DJ : Can you outline some of the benefits that organisations will get from using the sourcebook?
GR : The Global Sourcebook is solid and reliable, and has been used by almost every provider of international data quality software as the information basis for their systems, software and processes.
By using a trustworthy single source organisations don’t have to evaluate the reliability of other resources, or make judgements about accuracies when multiple resources have conflicting information.
When they have queries, or think that information in the Global Sourcebook is no longer valid, they can provide feedback and get clarification and correction in a timely fashion.
DJ : Could data quality management staff within a global organisation use the Global Sourcebook to implement better standards? How could they go about that?
GR : I’ve worked on the Global Sourcebook for twenty years - I rely on it and I know that global organisations can too. As a single resource providing consistent information, it can be used to provide constancy so that different parts of organisations are not working with contradictory information. Where information gets updated or corrected, that being done centrally aids data quality.
DJ : What is the process for our readers to get the Sourcebook?
GR : The online version will be unlocked on 1st November and will be at http://www.grcdi.nl/gsb/ . That version will be updated weekly. The pdf version will be released twice annually and to receive this, e-mail your name, company name and country (after 1st November) to gsb((at))grcdi.nl.
To help us to fund the Global Sourcebook we will send information about Global Sourcebook updates and other relevant topics approximately monthly in a newsletter to those subscribers.
You would be able to unsubscribe from that newsletter at any time.
DJ : This is a great initiative, opening it out to everyone for free. Can international data quality vendors help support the initiative through sponsorship?
GR : Absolutely. It’s a big job to keep this resource up to date, and help through donations, sponsorship and advertising is very welcome. Apart from that, I expect the resource to get lots of readers/hits, so it should definitely provide a good return on investment for companies with international data quality products and services! Details are online at http://www.grcdi.nl/gsb/, or people can contact me before that for information on mailform((at)) grcdi.nl
About Graham Rhind
Graham Rhind is an acknowledged expert in the field of data quality. He runs his own consultancy company, GRC Database Information, based in Germany, where he researches postal code and addressing systems, collates international data, runs a busy postal link website and writes data management software.
You can find him on Twitter via @grahamrhind.