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Metadata

  • By: Sarah M. Wandersee
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Metadata are data about data. More specifically within geography, they consist of digital background information about the origins of geospatial data. The data metadata describe are not necessarily limited to purely electronic data sets but can involve various formats and media. As standard operating procedure within geographic information systems (GIS), metadata play an essential role in identifying data usability and accessibility. A lack of metadata renders a data set less useful or even useless in analysis, since its legitimacy cannot be ensured. The following describes the content, format, standards, uses, and importance of metadata in geography.

Metadata accompany geospatial data in a separate file that includes pertinent information about the data set. The content is designed to allow for situational evaluation of data usability. This record ...

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