A patent application published on Thursday, "Online data verification of listing data," describes a system for verifying listing information submitted by users, such as a merchant might enter when providing data to the Google Local Business Center about his or her business.
"Because online data providers may not be the source of any of the information contained in a listing, they cannot be sure that the information they provide is accurate," the patent application explains. "To ensure the accuracy of the information provided by online data providers, online data providers may need to verify the information."
The patent application outlines a variety of possible client devices including PCs and mobile phones that may be used to submit either typed or voice input. The verification mechanism may include algorithmic data checks and/or requests for verification sent in the form of an e-mail or telephone call. Any subsequent response is used to verify the initial submission.
It's difficult to determine the damage done by bad data because there's no established standard for evaluating data accuracy. But it's clear that mistakes are made and that the information explosion hasn't been accompanied by an accuracy boom. According to a 2004 study by the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups, "79% of the credit reports surveyed contained either serious errors or other mistakes of some kind."