Communications of the Association for Information Systems


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Big data are key building blocks for creating information value. However, information systems are increasingly plagued with useless, waste data that can impede their effective use and threaten sustainability objectives. Using a constructive design science approach, this work first, defines digital data waste. Then, it develops an ensemble artifact comprising two components. The first component comprises 13 machine learning models for detecting data waste. Applying these to 35,576 online reviews in two domains reveals data waste of 1.9% for restaurant reviews compared to 35.8% for app reviews. Machine learning can accurately identify 83% to 99.8% of data waste; deep learning models are particularly promising, with accuracy ranging from 96.4% to 99.8%. The second component comprises a sustainability cost calculator to quantify the social, economic, and environmental benefits of reducing data waste. Eliminating 5948 useless reviews in the sample would result in saving 6.9 person hours, $2.93 in server, middleware and client costs, and 9.52 kg of carbon emissions. Extrapolating these results to reviews on the internet shows substantially greater savings. This work contributes to design knowledge relating to sustainable information systems by highlighting the new class of problem of data waste and by designing approaches for addressing this problem.





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