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Extended Family – a Basic Data Model

I was recently discussing the the subject of modelling the structure of the extended family in a commercial environment. I had come across this when doing consultancy for a finance company located in London and Dublin.

They were loaning money for the purchase of motor vehicles and needed to know just how much exposure they were having to a single family, especially when this family was disposed across several addresses. There were two main reasons for this: 1) to avoid over exposure to one family, especially in areas of high unemployment and 2) to prevent fraud.

The entity relationship model that I built for them at the time is shown below. It is a simple, yet powerful, model that met all of their needs at the time.
extended-family

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2 Responses to “Extended Family – a Basic Data Model”

  1. Jane S August 25, 2009 1:43 am #

    John, your diagram looks very nice and simple. How did you handle situations where a family with the same last name had reused a first name (so there were duplicate names)? Or were there no such situations?

    • John Owens August 25, 2009 11:02 am #

      Hi Jane
      One of the main problems modeling customers is defining what makes one customer uniquely different from another, that is their Unique Identifier. Sadly most businesses fail to do this and end up with duplicate customer entries in their data bases. This causes all types of problems from bad customer service to fraud. One thing is for sure – and this will come as a shock to most data analysts – the Customer Number is NOT the unique identifier of Customer!!

      I will be doing a post explaining this in full within the next 48 hours.

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