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4 public records search lessons from technology leaders (and the Dalai Lama)

· 5 minute read

· 5 minute read

When it comes to making key decisions about individuals and businesses you’re researching, data should be the driving power behind your rationale and recommendations. When crucial decisions are being made, public records searchers want to be certain that the data you’re using is current, accurate, and from reputable sources. We looked to some key technology leaders to explore how they view data and the lessons you can learn from the likes of Google, Apple, and Facebook. Oh, and from the Dalai Lama. 

“People judge you on your performance, so focus on the outcome” – Steve Jobs, Founder of Apple

Before you dive into your search on an individual, you need to identify what a successful outcome will be. When you know the data that you’re looking for, and how you can use that information to form a conclusion, you can better manage your time, resources, and effort. 

Action items: If your search is mission-critical to your agency or business, you can’t afford to use anything less than the best resources. Using the right search engine or platforms from the beginning will ensure that your outcome is timely and accurate.

“The question isn’t, what do we want to know about people. It’s what do people want to tell about themselves.” – Mark Zuckerberg, Co-Founder of Facebook  

You’ve likely been in a situation where you’re looking at a report and asking, “What does this mean?” Data, on its own, is inert. To draw meaning, you need thoughtful analysis that recognizes the question you are trying to answer and whether the data you’ve uncovered can tell that story.  

However, what happens when your data is incomplete, not timely, or skewed? With incomplete data, you miss the opportunity to uncover the truth. When tackling any new search, you want to start at the beginning by asking the right questions, through the right database, which will give you the most accurate information to build on. In public records searches, the individuals you are researching can inadvertently reveal much about themselves through their digital actions, such as a home or auto purchase or living situation. This type of information is not readily available on public search engines and can aid you in coming to a quicker conclusion.   

Action items: When identifying the data that you’re going to use, take the time to analyze if the data is complete, authentic, and unaltered. Without confirming that your raw data is usable, you’ll sacrifice time and resources reworking aspects of your project.

“The ultimate search engine would understand exactly what you mean and give back exactly what you want.” – Larry Page, Co-Founder of Google

You have probably gone to a search engine, typed in a search query and immediately found some information that appears to be responsive to your request. You knew the question and the keywords to use, and the search engine came through with an “answer.” But what happens when your question about an individual isn’t cut and dry? When the information you need is not in the public domain or readily findable by the search engine’s algorithms?  

While they are certainly powerful, search engines are only as powerful as your query allows them to be. Though artificial intelligence (AI) technology is certainly improving, human searchers are still the driving force behind phrasing queries correctly to find desired answers. 

Another limitation with any search engine is that to find the right answer, the data must first be available to the search engine. Much of the vital information that you might require, such as financial and driving records, is simply not accessible to search engines. 

Action items: Remember that the search results you find are only as good as your initial query and the data available to the search engine. Identifying keywords, industry terms and relevant sources can minimize your search time.

“A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.” – Dalai Lama

Now more than ever, searchers expect to be given clear, accurate information with the click of a button. The keyword here is accurate information. When you’re conducting research into an individual, you’re looking for facts that can help you build your case and provide context for your recommendation. You must have confidence that the source from which you are gathering information is reliable, which means you may need to look for resources outside of a public search engine.  

Action items: While some search engines may be easily accessible, be sure to identify where your information is coming from. A misstep of referencing inaccurate data can be detrimental in decision making and expose you and your organization to legal or financial risk.

By implementing these action items, you’ll find more accurate information in your searches and have more confidence in the origin of your data. 

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