General Terminology Associated With Database Models

This section describes how to construct an actual working database for TIM performance measurement. The associated terminology is important to understand, primarily so that readers can follow the steps necessary to apply the guidance internally within their own agency. Generically speaking, a database is an organized collection of data. The data in a database are a collection of numerous individual and basic pieces of information. Each individual piece of information is called a data element. In the context of TIM, data elements associated with an incident include items such as the date, time, severity, weather conditions, etc.

A database is generally built using a data model, which logically structures the individual data elements according to what they describe or do. Data are organized in tables, and data elements grouped in tables usually have a readily apparent relationship to each other. A database schema is a plan or design of how a database is constructed and how the data elements are arranged in the tables. Much like a blueprint, a database schema is largely a visual representation of the database for the designer and for anyone looking to understand the relationship between data elements. Lastly, a database script is a stored sequence of instructions that is used to accomplish a repeated task. A script can be used to create the structure of a database, populate a database with data from data files, interrogate a database based on a set of parameters, or perform many other tasks. While there are many other terms associated with databases, these are the main terms used within this guidance.