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Why it's important to use the right data

Why it's important to use the right data

"Giant steps are what you take" according to Sting. But, "one small step" according to Neil Armstrong.

  • Contributed by Companies House
  • July 25, 2019
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I know who I believe.

It’s been 50 years since Apollo 11 landed on the moon surface and many things have changed. Back then, we were driving around in a Ford Capri, listening to the last live performance by the Beatles and watching Grandstand on TV. I can remember sitting cross legged in the assembly hall gazing in awe at the grainy, black and white footage and hearing those legendary words:

"The Eagle has landed".

I’m now thinking it must have been a re-run, as the actual landing was at 2:56am. But no matter when, the human endeavour to achieve such an event with the technology of the time, was amazing.

It’s acknowledged that there’s more computing power in a mobile phone today than there was in the Apollo spacecraft, which makes it even more impressive.

The importance of data

In 1969, I doubt whether many of us had seen a computer, let alone used one. Now, it’s second nature. Being able to access billions of statistics, innumerable pieces of data and infinite nuggets of information at the drop of a hat.

Actually, scratch that. No one wears hats these days, so make that at the press of a button.

The importance of data and statistics is sometimes overlooked. Can you imagine the calculations and equations needed to guide a rocket into space, travel 238,855 miles, orbit the moon and then return? Mind blowing.

A film that explains the complexities is Hidden Figures. It’s about black female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race.

Today, statistics and data are used for everything. I was surprised (or maybe not) reading an article about Facebook, how much data is collected and how it can be used.

With more than 2 billion active users, Facebook stores a massive amount of data. It catalogues our likes, our location, birthdays, holidays and a whole lot more. It’s strange the amount of information that people provide just so they can watch cute animal videos.

What we do with your data

At Companies House, we do collect data and it’s important before becoming an officer of a company that you’re familiar with the legal implications.

As a company officer, we’re required by law to publish some of your personal data on the Companies House register. The register is publicly available and accessible by anyone.

One of the main issues we have is the use of someone’s home address. If you use your home address for your registered office address or your correspondence address, it will appear on the public register. There are new laws to help you protect your home address on the public register or remove it from publicly available documents.

Removing your address from the public register

You can ask us to remove a sensitive address like your home address if you’ve used it as a correspondence address on public documents, such as an appointment form. You’ll need to know which documents contain your address. Check this by finding your company on the Companies House register.

We do not have the legal power to remove a sensitive or home address that’s been used as a company’s registered office. Even if you change your registered office, any previous addresses you’ve used will remain on the public register for the lifetime of the company and 20 years after it’s been dissolved.

Protecting your address

If you do not want your home address available to the public, you should consider using a different address. If you only have a sensitive address to use, there’s a list of service providers and agents who can provide registered office services.

Remember that other documents such as accounts and people with significant control (PSC) statements also appear on the register – so use your alternative address there too.

Companies House retains all records of companies as long as they’re active. Records of dissolved companies are retained for 20 years, before they’re transferred to the Public Records Office at The National Archives (TNA). This includes all information relating to company directors or its officers.

Changing your information

For obvious reasons, the accuracy of data is vitally important. Can you imagine if they were a few degrees out when calculating the trajectory for the Apollo 11 mission?

Our data also needs to be accurate. So if you’ve made changes to your company information, don’t forget to let us know.

Our statistics

Our latest official annual statistics were released on 27 June 2019. They’re used by government, businesses and the general public for research, business decision making and for understanding more about changes to the UK economy.

Here are some interesting lunar (company-related) facts.

  1. There are almost 4,000 companies on our register with the word ‘Moon’ featured in the company name.
  2. A partial solar eclipse occurred on 10 November 1844 – the same year that Companies House opened.
  3. If the moon was made of cheese (no it isn’t) it would make 4,202,044 cheese cubes – exactly equal to the number of companies on the register.
  4. I made the last one up, just to remind you about our statistics release.

Looking forward, NASA is now working to land on the lunar surface by 2024 as part of its "Artemis" program.

Let’s hope they’re not thinking of opening a restaurant up there. The food might be good, but there would be no atmosphere.

Gary Townley, senior communications manager, Companies House

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