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What are metadata and why are they important?

Metadata
  • are information about data, such as its geographic coverage, quality, completeness, accuracy, etc.
  • are a "pedigree" of sorts for a data set and helps you to judge its "fitness for use" or reliability, thereby helping you to use it more appropriately and efficiently.
  • allow a potential user, for comparative purposes, to understand how the data were collected.
  • provide the all-important details of how you can actually obtain the data in question, or who best to contact.
Data that do not have accompanying metadata are often hard to find, difficult to access, troublesome to integrate, and perplexing to understand or interpret. If you have invested a significant amount of effort and money in the collection of your data, especially if you wish others to be able to use and re-use them, that investment will surely be enhanced by having the appropriate metadata on hand.

A national content standard has been established by the Federal Geograhic Data Committee (FGDC) for metadata, ensuring that it fully outlines all the vital information pertaining to a data set's source, content, format, accuracy, and lineage (i.e., what processing changes the data set has gone through over time). All of the metadata records in the Oregon Coast Geospatial Clearinghouse are FGDC-compliant.

Understanding the basics of the content standard...

Some additional information pertinent to Oregon...

The content standard was developed by the FGDC as one way of implementing the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). President Clinton's Executive Order 12906 called for the establishment of the NSDI in order to promote sharing of geospatial data throughout all levels of government, academia, and private and non-profit sectors.

View the slideshow about the NSDI (and the defining issues of data access, framework data sets and metadata)

Clearinghouses are a big part of NSDI implementation. They provide a valuable means, via the wonders of distributed computing, for advertising the existence of useful data, as well as their quality, inventory, and further collection requirements. In so doing, clearinghouses also help to minimize the duplication of effort involved in spatial data collection and processing.

What exactly is a clearinghouse, how does it work, and why is it so very important for effective access to metadata, and ultimately data???

Enjoy another slideshow!