Information Quality in Industrial Environmental Management: Defining and Managing Quality of Environmental Information

Abstract: This thesis aims to describe how quality of environmental information can be defined and managed to support industrial environmental management. Environmental information is used in industries to monitor and control the environmental aspects of products and processes. The usefulness of the results as a basis for environmental management decisions is dependent on the quality of the information. The research has been financed by the Swedish national competence center CPM (Center for Environmental Assessment of Product and Material Systems) and has been performed in project collaboration with companies from different industrial sectors. The focus of this research has been to increase the understanding of (1) what information quality means and how to define explicit quality requirements and (2) how information can be managed to fulfil defined quality requirements, and how information review can be used to maintain requirements and to monitor performance. A definition of environmental information quality in terms of quality dimensions is presented, based on quality requirements in the ISO 14000 series of standards and a user-based empirical definition of information quality. The research also shows that expressing information quality requirements as information needs in terms of a well-defined data documentation format is a feasible and concrete way to explicitly define requirements and to support environmental information quality management. Different strategies have been used in this research to manage quality of information to fulfil defined quality requirements. They have been aimed at establishing and maintaining information management processes, and have concerned structured documentation of data from different sources, managing quality during generation of data within production sites, and review of data to maintain quality requirements. Education and training have also been central in the effort to support the research and to increase competence and understanding among practitioners. This work has contributed to increased quality of environmental information with regard to different quality dimensions in the different projects that have been performed. General principles of total quality management (TQM) have been applied in this research. A procedure for implementing environmental information quality management based on TQM principles is presented, which incorporates experiences from the research that has been performed. This indicates that TQM can be used to effectively manage quality of environmental information.

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