What are the differences between data and information?

  • Definition
    Data – raw, disparate facts pertaining to an object or subject in focus.
    Information – refined processed data stringed together with context
  • Content
    Data – text, number, blobs
    Information – contextual text numbers and blobs to form meaningful data
  • Creation
    Data – by a collection of facts and observations
    Information – by analysis of collected data
  • Form
    Data – unorganized
    Information – organized
  • Usefulness
    Data – useful as input for further processing, but mostly meaningless when taken independently
    Information – useful, and is used as input in decision making and process development
  • Specific
    Data – not specific, has degree of randomness
    Information – specific to subject and context
  • Dependency
    Data – independent, serves as “axioms”, and as starting points for further processing
    Information – dependent on data; data serves as input for information


Census data is collected as raw facts of gender, date of birth, zip code etc.
Data here would be millions of records of the form:
Female, 01/01/1950, 33574
Male, 08/30/1076, 84732 etc.
This data is processed and the following types of information can be gleaned-
% of women in the population
% of men above the age of 75
Population in the zip code 33574
% increase/decrease of women in the zip code 33574
This information can then serve as input in helping to make decisions involving demography-based policies.
DATA -> INFORMATION -> KNOWLEDGE (to assist in decision-making)