What is metadata and why is it important to document GIS data? Metadata is an important, but unfortunately oft overlooked component of GIS data. Metadata is ‘data about the data’ and it’s vital to understanding to source, currency, scale, and appropriateness of using GIS data. Metadata can be stored as an inherent part of the GIS data, or it may be stored as a separate document.
Examples of information (this is not a comprehensive list) contained within metadata are: creation date of the GIS data, GIS data author, contact information, source agency, map projection and coordinate system, scale, error, explanation of symbology and attributes, data dictionary, data restrictions, and licensing. Essentially, metadata is a description of the GIS data set that helps the user understand the context of the data.
Federal Geographic Data Committee
The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) develops geospatial data standards for implementing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure, in consultation and cooperation with State, local, and tribal governments, the private sector and academic community, and, to the extent feasible, the international community. The FGDC is committed to using voluntary consensus standards, such as those developed through ISO and ANSI. The FGDC also tracks other standards activities that may not be considered as voluntary consensus standards.
The main objective of this list is to provide the GIS community with an open forum to share ideas and discuss metadata issues and strategies
National States GIC
A primer on what metadata is and how to use it by the National States Geographic Information Council (GIC).
Standards available for downloading for the National Biological Information Infrastructure.
USGS Metadata FAQ
FAQ compiled by Peter Schweitzer of the USGS.
USGS Metadata Tool Page
Lists some metadata tools for download that comply with FGDC standards.