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Metadata Standards

Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM)

Since 1995, the Federal Government has been required to produce metadata for geospatial data it produces, and make those data available to the public (Executive Order 12906). There are, of course, many possible approaches to documenting a data set. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) was created to deal with the Government’s needs in this area. The FGDC published its first metadata standard in 1995; use of the FGDC Standard is mandatory for the Federal Government. Two benefits of the formal standard are consistency of (1) documentation elements and (2) terminology. The known structure also lends itself to automated searching of candidate data sets based on their metadata characteristics. To take advantage of this, the FGDC operates the National Spatial Data Infrastructure Clearinghouse . The Clearinghouse provides a way to conduct searches against the metadata and find what spatial data sets the Government has created (although the data sets themselves are not housed in the Clearinghouse). Forest Service policy mandates the use of the FGDC metadata standard for all of its spatial data sets (FSH 6609.15 Chapter 40). Forest Service spatial data sets are also expected to be made available through the Clearinghouse.

FGDC Biological Data Profile (BDP)

The FGDC released a new version of its Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) in 1998. This is the version that the Forest Service adopted for its spatial data. The CSDGM has explicit mechanisms for adding elements and collections of elements, called “profiles”.

A significant portion of biological research either has no spatial component or has substantial aspects be`sides the purely spatial. The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII), part of the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey, was charged with developing a metadata standard covering such research. To that end, NBII consulted with the biological research community and enhanced the FGDC Standard. NBII’s enhancements have been approved by the FGDC as the Biological Data Profile (BDP). While the profile is specifically designed for biological data, it is defined broadly enough to be applicable to other scientific research. The 1999 version of the BDP has been adopted by R&D for its data archiving program. Formally, we are using the FGDC Biological Data Profile of the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata, 1999.

Other profiles

The FGDC has approved a number of other profiles and more are under consideration. Areas they have profiles for include cadastral data, classification of wetlands and deep water habitats, vegetation classification, soils, and digital orthoimagery. Areas they are working on include hydrography, shoreline data, remote sensing, biological taxonomy and nomenclature, address content, geologic data, floristic levels of vegetation classification, and riparian mapping. We will try to keep up to date on these, and incorporate them into our data collection and documentation structures as appropriate.

An international metadata standard for geospatial data (ISO 19115) has been approved. The FGDC is working on a North American Profile compliant with ISO 19115, which is expected to be made a Federal standard. Conversions tools will be made available.