A great way to sharpen our analysis and modeling skills is to continuously address real-world scenarios. A modeling scenario along with a solution appears each month in this Design Challenge column. The scenario is first emailed to more than 1,000 "Design Challengers," and then all responses, including my own, are consolidated and the best appear here. If you would like to become a Design Challenger and have the opportunity to submit responses, please add your email address at www.stevehoberman.com/designchallenge.htm. If you have a challenge you would like our group to tackle, please email me a description of the scenario at me@stevehoberman.com.

A university needs a unique identifier for an individual. There is a Person Identifier assigned by the university to all individuals on campus, but Person ID by itself does not guarantee uniqueness. Five percent of the time, an individual has two distinct Person IDs. Although business rules exist that help enforce uniqueness, errors happen. For example, Bob might be assigned a Person Identifier for his role as a student and a different identifier for his role as an instructor. Social Security number is a possible choice as a unique ID, yet we know it has both legal and data quality issues (e.g., foreign students have a temporary Social Security number until a permanent one is assigned). What would you choose as the unique identifier for an individual? Would you find a way to fix the data quality problems inherent in Person Identifier, or are there other elements that can be used instead?

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