Metadata is data about the data. For spatial datasets, it is very important to have information about the source of the data, accuracy, coordinate system, etc. In some cases the data will be useless without this information. The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) has established standards for metadata. ArcGIS has a nice tool for editing and displaying metadata using the FGDC standards in ArcCatalog. When using this tool it is convenient to prepare a detailed metadata file once and then import it when you need a new metadata file. You can set the software to automatically update the spatial reference information when you import the file.

In July 2003, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) approved and published ISO 19115 Geographic Information – Metadata. Work is continuing on reconciling the FGDC and ISO standards.

Last modified 1/2/2008