Decision Support

Decision Support Glossary

This page lists definitions for commonly used terminology in the discipline of data warehousing as well as specific terms used in data management and data warehousing at the University of Washington.

Data Definitions

Data definitions and interactive data models are available on the Data Definitions and Metadata page.

Enterprise Data Warehouse Glossary Terms

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Business Intelligence: A broad category of applications and technologies for gathering, storing, analyzing, and providing access to data to help clients make better business decisions.

Business Intelligence Competency Center: (BICC) is a cross-functional organizational team that has defined tasks, roles, responsibilities and processes for supporting and promoting the effective use of Business Intelligence (BI) across an organization.


central reports: Reports accessible by anyone at the University who has access to the Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW). These reports have to meet Data Management Committee standards and guidelines.

cube: A cube is a database specially designed and constructed to help users more easily extract useful business information from data. This kind of database is also known as an OLAP database (online analytical processing). For more information, Microsoft has posted an informative article here.


data: Factual information, especially information organized for analysis or used to reason or make decisions.

Data Access Control (DAC): DAC is the security database that filters data so that only the rows and columns that the user is allowed to see are accessible. All data access needs to go thru the DAC database for this filtering to work. All data is accessed from the DAC which has views to all of the tables available to users. Queries are written by you against the DAC views, which then access the EDW database tables. Note: Because the UW NetID user groups generally only allow access to the DAC databases, you cannot "see" or "connect" to the backend EDW databases.

data component: A logically distinct part of an Enterprise Data Warehouse subject area’s data.  A subject area is comprised of one or more data components.  Each data component may include one or more database tables and may require one or more load processes to maintain it.

Data Custodian: Data Custodians help define, implement, and enforce data management policies and procedures within their specific subject area and business domains, as defined in the UW Data Map.
Find your data custodian and learn more...

Data Trustee: Data Trustees are defined as institutional officers, (i.e. Vice Presidents, Vice Provosts, Deans, Chancellors, etc.) who are appointed by the President or Provost, and have authority over policies and procedures regarding business definitions of data, and the access and usage of that data, within their delegations of authority. Each Data Trustee appoints Data Custodians for their specific subject area domains.

Decision Support: Decision Support is a discipline that supports business or organization decision-making activities. Decision Support systems serve the management, operations and planning levels of an organization. This support is typically provided via an interactive software-based system which combines data from across an organization.

Enterprise Data Warehouse: The Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) is a central repository of the University of Washington's electronically stored institutional data. This repository is organized in a way that is meaningful for business analysis, reporting, and decision-making.

Enterprise Data Warehouse 2.0: The term EDW 2.0 represents the next generation of data available in the Enterprise Data Warehouse. Data added to the EDW under the 2.0 umbrella are designed and built to support quick and easy user interaction. Business rules are reflected in the data, the data is cleaned, defined, and integrated across subject areas to represent an institutional perspective. Tools such as reports, cubes and visualizations are created to facilitate ease of interaction - all with the end goal of enhancing data-informed decision making.


institutional data: The Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) is the central repository of the University of Washington's electronically stored institutional data. A piece of data is considered institutional if it meets one or more of the following criteria:
  • The data is relevant to planning, managing, operating, or auditing a major administrative function of the university.
  • The data is referenced or required for use by more than one organizational unit.
  • The data is included in an official university administrative report.
  • The data is used to derive a data element that meets these criteria.

metadata: Metadata is defined as “information that describes data”. Metadata can take several forms, such as information about the systems that store data, information about the data itself, and information about products that use the data. For example, a digital image may include metadata that describes how large the picture is, the color depth, the image resolution, when the image was created, and other data. A text document's metadata may contain information about how long the document is, who the author is, when the document was written, and a short summary of the document. A data table's metadata may include information about the kind of data included, how frequently it is loaded, and versioning.  Report metadata describes information about the report itself, not about the information contained in the report.  Examples of report metadata are the report ID, Executive Summary, Data Custodian, and the report author.


ODBC: ODBC stands for Open Data Base Connectivity. It is a connection that is created to define a connection between a computer and a database that is stored on another system. The ODBC connection contains information needed to allow a computer user to access the information stored in a database that is not local to that computer. You need to define the type of database application - like Microsoft SQL or Oracle or FoxPro or mySQL. Once you have defined the type of database you need to select or supply the appropriate driver for a connection (Windows already contains many of these) and then supply the name of the database file and the credentials needed to access the database. Once the ODBC connection is created, you can tell specific programs to use that ODBC connection to access information in that database. (From


Security Metadata Access Control (SMAT): The SMAT is the online tool used by Data Custodians to manage access to Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW) data in accordance with UW data security policy. While this tool is available to Data Custodians only, anyone with access to the central report server can see the security settings applied to all EDW tables and columns available for querying and reporting, for every role described in the Roles & Access Matrix. For more information, see Current Data Security Settings.

system of record: A system of record (SOR) is an information storage system (commonly implemented on a computer system), which is the authoritative data source for a given data element or piece of information.

UW Data Map: A data and business process classification scheme that provides consistency in the cataloging and maintenance of institutional data. Learn more...
view: A virtual table that, in the case of EDW data, incorporates the data security rules determined by data custodians.
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