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FGDC Metadata and the Biological Data Profile Anchorage, AK January 25, 2006. Metadata Workshop Topics. Metadata: what it is, why you need it, and how to write good metadata.

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metadata workshop topics
Metadata Workshop Topics
  • Metadata: what it is, why you need it, and how to write good metadata.
  • U.S. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) and the Biological Data Profile.
  • Implementation: decisions, challenges, and resources.
  • Tools and resources for metadata creation and management.
trainer s goals
Trainer’s Goals
  • Everyone learn / meet your goals for the class
  • Experience that metadata isn’t that scary
  • Have fun!
introduction what are metadata
Introduction: What are Metadata?
  • Definitions
  • Examples
  • Types of information included
introduction what are metadata5
In your own words – what does “metadata mean to you?

Metadata are literally “data about data” - they describe the content, quality, condition, and other characteristics of the data.

Introduction: What Are Metadata?
metadata in the real world
What are some everyday examples of “metadata”?

Examples: food product labels, library records, information on a video or DVD, published maps, etc., etc., etc.

Metadata in the Real World
working with data
Working With Data
  • When you provide data to someone else, what types of information would you want to include with the data?
  • When you receive a dataset from an external source, what types of information do you want to know about the data?
metadata describes the who what where why and how
Metadata describes the Who, What, Where, Why, and How
  • Who created and maintains the data?
  • Why were the data created?
  • What is the content and structure of the data?
  • When collected? When published?
  • Where is the geographic location? Storage location?
  • How were the data produced?
mining existing resources
Mining Existing Resources
  • Metadata is not a new or alien concept.
  • We all have a strong history of documenting methodology, describing appropriate uses of the data, and writing summaries about data completeness and currentness.
  • What existing documentation (i.e. metadata) materials do you have in your program / office?
examples of existing data about data materials
Examples of existing “data about data” materials:
  • Methodology documentation
  • Database help records
  • BASIS+ project/task entries
  • Data sharing and licensing agreements
  • Project agreement, documentation and reports
  • Data requests – data use guidelines
the key point
The Key Point:

All of us have personal experience

with creating metadata.

the value of metadata
The Value of Metadata
  • Data developers
  • Data users
  • Organizations
value to data developers
Value to Data Developers?
  • Avoid duplication
  • Share reliable information
  • Publicize efforts
  • Reduce workload
  • Documenting data is critical to preserving its usefulness over time; without proper documentation, no data set is complete
value to data users
Value to Data Users?
  • Search, retrieve, and evaluate data set information both inside and outside organizations
  • Finding data - determine which data exist for a geographic location and/or topic
  • Applicability - determine if a

dataset meets your needs

  • Access and transfer - acquire the dataset you identified, process and use the dataset
value to organizations
Value to Organizations?
  • Organizes and maintains an organization’s investment in data
  • Documentation of data processing steps, quality control, definitions, data uses and restrictions, etc.
  • Transcends people and time; offers data permanence and creates institutional memory
  • Saves time, money, frustration
value to organizations16
Value to Organizations?
  • “Advertising”: Provide information about datasets to data catalogs and clearinghouses
  • External data sharing and data transfer: Provide information that is critical for others to understand and correctly use your data
  • Helps share data with other agencies, lead to potential partnerships
value to all
Value to All:








what s new about metadata i e why are we here today
What’s new about metadata (i.e. why are we here today)?

Creating and managing metadata

in a standardized format

using a common set of terms.

why have a standard
Why Have a Standard?

Helps you determine:

  • If a set of data is available and fit for your use
  • How to access and transfer the data set
why have a standard21
Why Have a Standard?

Helps to create:

  • Common terms
  • Common definitions
  • Common language
  • Common structure
why have a standard22
Why Have a Standard?
  • Establishes names of metadata elements and compound elements
  • Defines information about values provided for metadata elements
  • The standard serves as a uniform summary description of the data set
  • Online systems rely on documentation being predictable in form and content
the key to using the standard
The Key to Using the Standard…
  • If you’re creating metadata for the first time, it may seem complex - stick with it
  • Don’t create your own version of the standard - you’ll only confuse people
  • Find the fields that are pertinent to your data and your organization’s needs
  • Build a template; use the template
  • Ask questions!
establishment of u s metadata standards
Establishment of U.S. Metadata Standards

Executive Order 12906 (1994)

  • Defines the responsibilities of the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC)
  • Requires that metadata be available to the public
  • Requires creation of metadata for data sets from 1995 forward
fgdc s responsibilities
FGDC’s Responsibilities

Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) is responsible for coordinating:

  • development of National Spatial Data Infrastructure
  • establishment of National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse
  • development of standards
  • cooperative efforts with State, Local, and tribal governments, and private sector
  • implementation of digital geospatial data framework
executive order 12906
Executive Order 12906

Federal Agencies responsible for:

  • standardized documentation of all new data collected or produced beginning in January 1995
  • plans to document data previously collected or produced (legacy data) to the “extent practicable”
  • making metadata and data available to the public
  • utilize Clearinghouse to determine if data has already been collected or cooperative efforts are possible
fgdc profiles and extensions
FGDC Profiles and Extensions

Extension: extended elements to the standard are elements outside the standard but needed by the data set producer

Profile: document that describes the application of the Standard to a specific community

Examples: Biological Data Profile,

Shoreline Data Profile, Remote Sensing Extensions

biological data profile defines additional elements
Biological Data Profile:Defines Additional Elements
  • Taxonomy
  • Methodology
  • Analytical tools

Biological Data Profile:Documents three types of data sets

  • Explicitly biological
  • Biological and geospatial
  • Explicitly geospatial

National Research Council recommended in 1994 the establishment of a National Biotic Resource Information System to coordinate distributed databases and disseminate new data and information ~ NBII

  • NBII established a federation of biological information sources and tools to help users find biological information and to combine information from various sources.
  • NBII has a biological information focus, on both geospatial and non-geospatial data.
international organization for standardization iso metadata standard
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Metadata Standard
  • ISO 19115 has been approved - an abstract standard that specifies general content for the metadata, but does not specify the format.
  • ISO 19139 is under development - XML implementation schema specifying the metadata record format.
  • The FGDC is developing metadata content for the U.S. National Profile of ISO 19139.
international organization for standardization iso metadata standard33
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Metadata Standard
  • ISO not yet the official U.S. metadata standard (important if need to provide FGDC-compliant metadata!).
  • Software tools under development.
  • Metadata created before the release of the ISO standard will not need to be altered.
  • Updates and more information:
other metadata standards
Other Metadata Standards
  • Ecological Metadata Language (EML)

Used for the Long-term Studies Section (LTSS) publicly accessible registry describing scientific data sets on ecology and the environment.

  • Darwin Core

Used for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) portal of collection and observation data.

the fgdc csdgm standard and the biological data profile
The FGDC CSDGM Standard and the Biological Data Profile
  • What the CSDGM Standard and the Biological Data Profile are
  • Details about the Sections and Terms of the Standard
fgdc metadata standard overview
FGDC metadata standard: overview

Seven Major Metadata Sections:

Section 1 - Identification Information*

Section 2 - Data Quality Information

Section 3 - Spatial Data Information

Section 4 - Spatial Reference Information

Section 5 - Entity and Attribute Information

Section 6 - Distribution Information

Section 7 - Metadata Information*

Three Supporting Sections:

Section 8 - Citation Information*

Section 9 - Time Period Information*

Section 10 - Contact Information*

* Minimum required metadata

fgdc metadata standard all the details
FGDC Metadata Standard: All the Details

FGDC Metadata Standards:

Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) (version 2.0), FGDC-STD-001-1998

Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata, Part 1: Biological Data Profile, FGDC-STD-001.1-1999

(Note: The FGDC biological data profile is sometimes also referred to as the “NBII extension”)

fgdc metadata workbook graphic representations
FGDC Metadata Workbook & Graphic Representations

Primary FGDC digital geospatial metadata standard

FGDC metadata including the Biological Data Profile


FGDC Metadata Element

Data Element


Element number

Choice of integer, real, text, date

Valid values that can be assigned or “free text”, “free date”, or “free time”

fgdc graphic representation
FGDC Graphic Representation

A tool to visually describe the structure of the metadata standard; depicting information, organization, reporting requirements, and structure of the standard through the use of colorand the relationship of information through the use of symbology.

graphical representation of the elements

Data Elements

(raised 3-d boxes)

Graphical Representation of the Elements


Compound Elements

(not raised)


how are elements grouped


Element 1


Element 1.1


Element 1.1.1


Element 1.1.2


Element 1.2

How Are Elements Grouped?

Compound elements are composed of other compound or data elements. The composition is represented by nested boxes.


what can repeat how many times


Element 1

(can be repeated

unlimited times)


Element 1.1


Element 1.1.1


Element 1.1.2


Element 1.2

What Can Repeat? How Many Times?

If an element can be repeated independently from other elements, a labelbelow the element name states how many times the element may be repeated. If there is no label, the element does not repeat independently from other elements.


what s mandatory what s not
What’s Mandatory? What’s Not?






Mandatory: must be provided

Mandatory if applicable: must be provided if the data set exhibits the defined characteristic

Optional: provided at the discretion of the data producer

Biological Data Profileelements (yellow, green, or blue with red outline and text).

navigating the fgdc standard








(can be repeated

unlimited times)


Theme Keyword



Theme Keyword

(can be repeated...)






and Update






(can be repeated

unlimited times)

Place Keyword







if Applicable

Place Keyword

(can be repeated...)


Navigating the FGDC Standard



Good Metadata: Steps to Quality Metadata

  • Organize your information
  • Write your metadata
  • Review for accuracy and completeness
  • Have someone else read your file
  • Revise it, based on comments from your reviewer
  • Review it once more before you publish it

Good Metadata: Keep your readers in mind

  • Write simply but completely
  • Document for a general audience
  • Be consistent in style and terminology

Good Metadata: Think about the long-term effects

  • Don’t use jargon
  • Define technical terms and acronyms:


  • Clearly state data limitations
  • Use subheadings and/or bulleted lists
  • Cite examples
  • Use “none” or “unknown” meaningfully

Good Metadata: The Title

  • Critical in helping readers find your data.
  • A complete title includes: What, Where, When, Scale, Who
  • An informative title includes: Topic, Timeliness of the data, Specific information about place and geography
good metadata the title
Good Metadata: The Title

If the data are officially published, in the title include:

  • Series name
  • Issue number
  • Name of publisher
  • Location of publisher
good metadata the title53
Good Metadata: The Title
  • Which is better?
    • Rivers
    • Greater Yellowstone Rivers from 1:126,700 Forest Visitor Maps (1961-1983)
  • Examples of useful titles:
    • Near Real Time Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR) Data-Satellite Imagery from NOAA CSC Coastal Remote Sensing Division
    • Ace Basin, South Carolina National Estuarine Research Reserve Digital Line Boundary

Good Metadata: Be Specific, Quantify when you can

  • Vague: We checked our work and it looks complete.
  • Specific: We checked our work using 3 separate sets of check plots reviewed by 2 different people. We determined our work to be 95% complete based on these visual inspections.

Good Metadata: Select keywords wisely

  • Use unambiguous words
  • Use descriptive words
  • Fully qualify geographic locations – where is ‘Portland’?

Good Metadata: Remember, a computer will read your metadata

  • Don’t use symbols that might be misinterpreted

! @ # % { } | / \ < > ~

  • Don’t use characters with dual interpretations
  • Don’t use tabs or indents
  • Be careful with the use of carriage returns
  • Use “none” or “unknown” meaningfully

Good Metadata: Review your final product

  • Have someone else read it
  • If you’re the only reviewer, put it away and read it again later
  • Check for clarity and omissions
  • Can a novice understand what you wrote?
  • Are your data properly documented for posterity?

Good Metadata: Review your final product

  • Does the documentation present all the information needed to use or reuse the data?
  • Are any pieces missing?

Supporting Section 8: Citation Information

8.1 Originator

name of an organization / individual that developed data set

8.2 Publication Date

8.3 Publication Time

8.4 Title

8.5 Edition

BDP8.6 Geospatial Presentation Form


Supporting Section 8: Citation Information

8.7 Series Information

8.8 Publication Information

Place and Publisher

8.9 Other Citation Details

8.10 Online Linkage

online resource for the dataset – a URL

8.11 Larger Work Citation


Supporting Section 9: Time PeriodInformation

9.1 Single Date


9.2 Multiple Date(s)


9.3 Range of Date(s)

BDP allows use of Geologic Age information for the Time Period


Supporting Section 10: Contact Information

10.1 Contact Person PrimaryOR

10.2 Contact Organization Primary

10.3 Contact Position

title of individual

10.4 Contact Address

Minimal: type, city, state / province, postal code

10.5 Contact Voice Telephone


Supporting Section 10: Contact Information

10.6 Contact TDD/TTY Telephone

10.7 Contact Facsimile Telephone

10.8 Contact Electronic Mail Address

10.9 Hours of Service

10.10 Contact Instructions

supplemental instructions on how or when to contact the

Contact Person or Organization

1.1 Citation

Originator, Publication Date, Title

1.2 Description

Abstract and Purpose

1.3 Time Period of Content

Date(s) and Currentness Reference

1.4 Status

Progress and Maintenance

1.5 Spatial Domain

Description of Geographic Extent; N, S, E, and W bounds

Section 1: Identification Information


Section 1: Identification Information

1.6 Keywords

Theme Thesaurus and Keyword

BDP1.7 Taxonomy

Thesaurus, Keywords, Classification System, Procedures,

Taxonomic Classification: rank and value

1.7 Access Constraints

restrictions and legal prerequisites for accessing the data;

including protection of privacy or intellectual property

1.8 Use Constraints

restrictions for using the data set after access is granted

1.9 Point of Contact


Section 1: Identification Information

1.10 Browse Graphic

1.11 Data Set Credit

recognition of those who contributed to the data set

1.12 Security Information

1.13 Native Data Set Environment

software used to create / analyze / export the dataset

1.14 Cross Reference

other, related data sets that are likely to be of interest

BDP1.15 Analytical Tool

tools, models, or statistical procedures


Section 2: Data Quality Information

2.1 Attribute Accuracy

2.2 Logical Consistency Report

2.3 Completeness Report

2.4 Positional Accuracy

Horizontal and Vertical

2.5 Lineage

Methods used; Sources used; and Process Step

2.6 Cloud Cover

section 2 5 lineage taking a closer look
Section 2.5 Lineage: Taking a closer look

The lineage and process step metadata elements

section 2 5 lineage definition
Section 2.5 Lineage: Definition
  • “Information about the events, parameters, and source data which constructed the data set, and information about the responsible parties.”
  • What were the ingredients (source data)?
  • How were they combined (process steps)?
  • Who did the work (contact)?
section 2 5 data lineage and process
Section 2.5 Data Lineage and Process
  • Who would use this type of information?
  • What is its value?

Section 3: Spatial DataOrganization Information

3.1 Indirect Spatial Reference

3.2 Direct Spatial Reference Method

3.3 Point and Vector Object Information

Type, Topology level, Count


3.4 Raster Object Information

Type, Count


Section 4: Spatial Reference Information

4.1 Horizontal Coordinate System Definition

4.1.1 GeographicOR

4.1.2 PlanarOR Map Projection OR Grid Coordinate System OR Local Planar

4.1.3 Local

4.1.4 Geodetic Model

4.2Vertical Coordinate System

4.2.1 Altitude System Definition

4.2.2 Depth System Definition


Section 5: Entity and Attribute Information

5.1 Detailed Description

5.1.1 Entity Type

label, description & source for dataset features

5.1.2 Attributes

label (field name), field definition,

definition source (authority ~ USGS, FIPS, etc.),

and domain values / valid values



Section 5: Entity and Attribute Information


5.2 Overview Description

5.2.1 Entity and Attribute Overview

detailed summary of the information contained in a data set

5.2.2 Entity and Attribute Detail Citation

reference to the complete description of the entity types,

attributes, and attribute values for the data set


Section 5: Attribute Domain Values

  • Enumerated Domain: list of possible values (conservation status ranks, domain tables)
  • Range Domain: numeric values between limits (lat / long)
  • Codeset Domain: values defined by a set of codes (FIPS codes, Quad codes, HUC codes, USESA values)
  • Unrepresentable Domain: values not in a known predefined set (any text or comment field, common names)

Section 6: Distribution Information

6.1 Distributor

Contact information for obtaining the data set

6.2 Resource Description

Internal identifier such as a dataset name or code

6.3 Distribution Liability

Liability statement regarding the data set

6.4 Standard Order Process

general data request process, instructions, and fees

6.5 Custom Order Process

6.6 Technical Prerequisites

6.7 Available Time Period


Section 7: Metadata Information

7.1 Metadata Date

date metadata created or last reviewed

7.2 Metadata Review Date

7.3 Metadata Future Review Date

7.4 Metadata Contact

person or organization responsible for metadata content

7.5 Metadata Standard Name

7.6 Metadata Standard Version


Section 7: Metadata Information

7.7 Metadata Time Convention

7.8 Metadata Access Constraints

7.9 Metadata Use Constraints

7.10 Metadata Security Information

7.11Metadata Extensions

Example: Biological Data Profile

implementation decisions overview
Implementation Decisions: Overview
  • Getting support for metadata development?
  • What is a “data set?” What needs metadata?
  • When is the best time to collect metadata?
  • When should you document legacy data?
  • Who is the metadata being created for? For what purpose?
    • External - Clearinghouse, Projects, Internet
    • Internal - Data Library, Archives
  • Who should create the metadata?
    • Single individual or team approach
  • What metadata creation tools?
getting support the value of metadata is organization wide
Getting Support: The Value of Metadata is Organization Wide
  • Saves time, money, frustration
  • Preserve institutional memory and investment in data; written documentation rather than in one person’s brain
  • Partnerships and “advertising” data collections, help share reliable information
  • Efficiency – identify and use existing datasets, avoid duplication of effort
  • Gives the data set creator(s) credit
funding metadata development
Funding Metadata Development
  • Internal funding options?
  • External - include as project deliverable / scope of work, therefore included in the project budget!
deciding what data sets need metadata
Deciding what data sets need metadata?
  • Dataset definitions: EO 12906, FGDC, NBII
  • Historical data: NSDI “Guide for Federal Agencies”
  • Prioritize data sets: Mission critical, High demand, Projects, Web downloadable, Legacy, Others?
  • Data inventory: Format, Resolution, Contacts, Geographic locations, etc
  • General rule of thumb: The “what if Joe Scientist gets hit by a bus tomorrow?” test
who contributes to creating a metadata file
Who contributes to creating a metadata file?

Single individual or team approach?

  • Team Leader / Project Manager
  • GIS Specialist
  • Field Personnel
  • Database Manager
  • Science Staff
  • Data Analysis Lead
more metadata training info
More Metadata Training & Info
  • FGDC metadata trainer directory
  • FGDC metadata training calendar

  • NBII metadata training program

  • Other Training Materials

  • Email list

metadata resources on the web
Metadata Resources on the Web
  • Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC):

  • National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) / Biological Data Profile:

  • USGS metadata resource page (includes factsheets, FAQs, MP validation tool):

metadata creation tools103
Metadata Creation Tools

Summary and review of a variety of metadata software tools:

Check back periodically – these review sites are updated on an ongoing basis!

metadata validation tools
Metadata Validation Tools

CNS - “Chew-n-Spit”

Pre-parser to prepare for using “MP” (probably not needed if using tool such as ArcCatalog)

MP - “Metadata Parser”

Validation that metadata are FGDC compliant; critical if posting metadata to an online clearinghouse

cns chew n spit pre parser

Metadata Tool


to MP


CNS: “Chew-n-Spit” Pre-parser
  • Metadata formatting tool
  • Pre-parser for formal metadata to convert records that cannot be parsed by MP into records that can be parsed by MP
  • Uses ASCII text files from metadata creation tool
  • Not all ASCII text files require CNS prior to using MP

MP: Metadata Parser

  • Metadata quality control and output configuration tool
  • Compiler to parse formal metadata
  • Checks the syntax against the FGDC standard (including the Biological Data Profile)
  • Checks structure and values of elements
  • Generates output suitable for viewing with a web browser or text editor (can create .html, .sgml, .diff, and .xml files for serving on the clearinghouse or the Internet)
  • Reads ASCII text, XML, or SGML files
mp correcting errors
MP: Correcting Errors
  • All errors must be fixed in the original metadata record (and then re-run through MP)
  • Errors are labeled with numbers - how can you find out where they are?
    • Open a DOS window and edit the file c:\metanbii\cns_out.txt (the edit feature contains line numbers) OR
    • View CNS output “cns_out.txt” in and use “Find” feature of WordPad to locate error
metadata process summary
Metadata Process Summary

Metadata Tool




to MP

Final Output



arccatalog arcgis 8 x or 9 x112
ArcCatalog (ArcGIS 8.x or 9.x)
  • Advanced tools and customizations (such as specifying which parts of the metadata record to automatically update) can be downloaded from the ESRI ArcObjects website:
  • Select “Samples”, “Metadata”, “Tools”, see “Advanced Synchronization” or “Set Synchronized Properties”
metavist 2005
Metavist 2005

metavist 2005 software features
Metavist 2005 Software Features
  • Creates FGDC compliant metadata, including the Biological Data Profile for the FGDC standard.
  • Covers all FGDC elements plus Biological Data Profile elements (Taxonomy, Methodology, and Analytical Tools).
  • Geospatial metadata elements NOT automatically collected from GIS data layers.
  • Metadata stored / output in XML format.
  • Import existing metadata file (must be XML file with proper formatting).
  • Template – create a partial record with template components, import to start a new metadata record.
metadata clearinghouses
Metadata clearinghouses
  • A metadata clearinghouse is a location — typically accessed through the Internet — to search for spatial data sets
  • Clearinghouses make metadata records easy to find
clearinghouse examples
Clearinghouse examples
  • FGDC Geospatial Data Clearinghouse

  • Montana State Library Natural Resource Information System GIS

  • Nebraska Geospatial Data Clearinghouse

  • Wisconsin Land Information Clearinghouse

national geospatial data clearinghouse ngdc
National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse (NGDC)
  • Has the people and infrastructure to help you find out who has what geographic information.
  • Set of information services that use hardware, software, and telecommunications networks to provide searchable access to information .
  • Includes federal, state, university, and vendor participants in the United States and abroad.
  • User can search all or part of the community in a single session