Hand using manual scanner bar code with scan price label product

What is an identifier?

Wed Dec 23, 2020
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Identifiers are part of how we make sense of the world and communicate. They act as labels to help us uniquely identify physical and digital objects and services, and as pointers to information available online or stored in a variety of databases and systems

Identifiers are part of how we make sense of the world and communicate. They act as labels to help us uniquely identify physical and digital objects and services, and as pointers to information available online or stored in a variety of databases and systems. 

Authors: Leigh Dodds, Libby Young

Every day we all benefit from identifiers. Passports and driver’s licences enable us to access services or cross borders. Website addresses help us to find information online. Barcodes, food, books and medicines help us to make purchases and find information that will help us to stay healthy and safe.

Identifiers are part of our regional, national and global data infrastructure. Data infrastructure consists of data assets, like identifiers, technologies that help us manage and use them, policies that govern how they are used, and the organisations that curate and maintain them.

Identifiers are a key building block for integrating data within organisations, between business partners and across sectors and industries. Use of common, standard identifiers helps to stop fraud and create transparency around government spending. They support international markets and the supply chains that help to keep supermarket shelves stocked. They help to manage and organise the scholarly record and find our favourite music.