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A metadata record is a file of information that describes the basic characteristics of a data resource. It represents the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” of the data. Geospatial metadata are used to document digital geographic data formatted as geographic information system (GIS) files, geospatial databases, and earth imagery. The information in the metadata record can be used to apply, manage, archive, and distribute the geospatial data.

Metadata make up the component of the data resource that provides context. All data resources represent an abstraction of some form. This is particularly true of geospatial data, in which real-world forests or transportation networks are reduced to a set of points, lines, and polygons. Metadata provide the data consumer with critical information about the data developer's ...

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