Geospatial metadata (also geographic metadata, or simply metadata when used in a geographic context) is a type of metadata that is applicable to objects that have an explicit or implicit geographic extent, in other words, are associated with some position on the surface of the Globe. Such objects may be stored in a geographic information system (GIS) or may simply be documents, datasets, images or other objects, services, or related items that exist in some other native environment but whose features may be appropriate to describe in a (geographic) metadata catalogue (may also be known as a data directory, data inventory, etc.).
ISO 19115 "Geographic Information - Metadata" from ISO/TC 211, the current "best practice" standard for geospatial metadata, does not in fact provide a definition of geospatial (or geographic) metadata; however, uses the following wording in its "scope" section:
"This International Standard provides information about the identification, the extent, the quality, the spatial and temporal schema, spatial reference, and distribution of digital geographic data."
A little further, it is stated: "Though this International Standard is applicable to digital data, its principles can be extended to many other forms of geographic data such as maps, charts, and textual documents as well as non-geographic data."
The U.S. FGDC (Federal Geographic Data Committee) describes (geospatial) metadata as follows:
"A metadata record is a file of information, usually presented as an XML document, which captures the basic characteristics of a data or information resource. It represents the who, what, when, where, why and how of the resource. Geospatial metadata are used to document geographic digital resources such as Geographic Information System (GIS) files, geospatial databases, and earth imagery. A geospatial metadata record includes core library catalog elements such as Title, Abstract, and Publication Data; geographic elements such as Geographic Extent and Projection Information; and database elements such as Attribute Label Definitions and Attribute Domain Values."
The growing appreciation of the value of geospatial metadata through the 1980s and 1990s led to the development of a number of initiatives to collect metadata according to a variety of formats either within agencies, communities of practice, or countries/groups of countries. For example, United Kingdom.
ISO 19115: Geographic information - Metadata
ISO 19115 is a standard of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The standard is part of the ISO geographic information suite of standards (19100 series). ISO 19115 and its parts defines how to describe geographical information and associated services, including contents, spatial-temporal purchases, data quality, access and rights to use.
The objective of this International Standard is to provide a clear procedure for the description of digital geographic datasets so that users will be able to determine whether the data in a holding will be of use to them and how to access the data. By establishing a common set of metadata terminology, definitions and extension procedures, this standard will promote the proper use and effective retrieval of geographic data.
ISO 19139 Geographic information Metadata XML schema implementation
The standard is part of the ISO geographic information suite of standards (19100 series), and provides a spatial metadata XML (spatial metadata eXtensible Mark-up Language (smXML)) encoding, an XML schema implementation derived from ISO 19115, Geographic information – Metadata. The metadata includes information about the identification, constraint, extent, quality, spatial and temporal reference, distribution, lineage, and maintenance of the digital geographic dataset.
Also known as metadata catalogues or data directories.
(need discussion of, and subsections on GCMD, FGDC metadata gateway, ASDD, European and Canadian initiatives, etc. etc.)
- GCMD - Global Change Master Directory's goal is to enable users to locate and obtain access to Earth science data sets and services relevant to global change and Earth science research. The GCMD database holds more than 20,000 descriptions of Earth science data sets and services covering all aspects of Earth and environmental sciences.
- Reverb Client or Application Programmer Interfaces (APIs). ECHO stores metadata from a variety of science disciplines and domains, totalling over 3400 Earth science data sets and over 118 million granule records.
- Jisc. GoGeo allows users to conduct geographically targeted searches to discover geospatial datasets. GoGeo searches many data portals from the HE and FE community and beyond. GoGeo also allows users to create standards compliant metadata through its Geodoc metadata editor.
Geospatial metadata tools
There are many commercial GIS or geospatial products that support metadata viewing and editing on GIS resources. For example, ESRI's ArcGIS Desktop, Autodesk's AutoCAD Map 3D 2008 and Intergraph's GeoMedia support geospatial metadata extensively.
Open Source Geospatial Foundation's software stack.
GeoServer. Several metadata profiles are supported.
CATMDEdit terraCatalog ArcCatalog ArcGIS Server Portal GeoNetwork opensource IME M3CAT MetaD MetaGenie Parcs Canada Metadata Editor Mapit/CADit NOKIS Editor
ANZLIC Metadata Profile Version 1.0 (viewed 17 Sept. 2007)
- FGDC metadata page
- Global Change Master Directory(GCMD)
- Geospatial Exploitation of Motion Imagery is a geospatially aware and integrated Intelligent Video Surveillance (IVS) software system targeted at real-time and forensic video analytic and mining applications that require low-resolution detection, tracking, and classification of moving objects (people and vehicles) in outdoor, wide-area scenes.
- ISO 19115:2003 Geographic information -- Metadata
- Geographic information -- Metadata -- XML schema implementation
- EarthDataModels design for Metadata is a logical data model and physical implementation of a Spatial Metadata Database, based on ISO19115 and is INSPIRE compliant.