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A Publication of the Federal Geographic Data Committee July 1997


A Publication of the Federal Geographic Data Committee

State and Counties Plan Implementations of the NSDI Strategy:

Representatives of state and county organizations that produce and use geographic data met with the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Steering Committee on April 30, 1997. Bruce Babbitt, Secretary of the Interior and chair of the committee, called the meeting a historic opportunity for organizations from different sectors to cooperate in data sharing activities and to jointly develop the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI).

Geographic data coordinating committees from eighteen states that have been recognized by the FGDC were represented, along with the National States Geographic Council (NSGIC), and the National Association of Counties (NACo). NACo, NSGIC and the cooperating groups presented a series of recommendations for collaborative action:

"Increase resources for development of foundational data sets to enhance collaboratively decision- making."

Discussions emphasized the need for increased resources to support a spatial data infrastructure responsive to state and local needs. Data for agency missions should be developed with a view toward supporting data foundations for state and local governments. Resources specific to federal programs should be leveraged to help build the NSDI framework. Although states and counties need to be more efficient in data collection, incentives to encourage increased data sharing are also essential.

To carry out this recommendation, NSGIC, NACo, and the cooperating groups will develop a short list of federal programs that might provide opportunities for funding spatial data collection. For example, data collected for environmental impact statements might be incorporated into the NSDI framework.

Participants also agreed to jointly examine and identify state, local, and federal-level government incentives, and data collection funding models that can be adopted to develop a foundational data series for collaboratively decision-making.

"Improve understanding and ensure participation of federal field offices in local spatial data coordination and development."

A lack of knowledge on the part of many federal agency field offices about NSDI and FGDC is a significant impediment to building the NSDI. It was recommended that federal agencies give higher priority to the involvement of field offices with local and state partners, and that the state councils conduct outreach activities with federal field offices and state organizations.

Secretary Babbitt noted the problem of an agency attention span. Federal programs are often driven by a current, narrowly focused issue, whereas state programs tend to be long-term. These orientations have an impact on how we achieve data coordination and sharing. In many cases geospatial data appear to be treated marginally within federal government programs and are not seen within a central infrastructure context. FGDC leadership provides an opportunity for agencies to look at reengineering federal programs and redefining the role of spatial data.

To carry out this recommendation, the FGDC Secretariat will draft guidance for federal agency field offices, and state and local government, and coordination groups to improve the coordination geographic data activities.

"Assure participation of state and local representatives in the collaborative development of national standards."

Geospatial standards and their uses are poorly understood. For example, the metadata standard is often perceived as too complex. The lack of implementation guidance frequently discourages potential users.

To insure that comprehensive and comprehensible standards are developed, NSGIC and NACo will identify and prioritize data standards development activities in which they might participate, and will develop a process for this participation. Current revision of the metadata standard provides a timely opportunity for participation. NSGIC and NACo are helping with the revision of the metadata standard and the formulation of the U.S. position on metadata as part of international standards development work.

Florida GIB Requests FGDC Assistance to Establish a Statewide Federal Coordinating Committee:

Recognizing the need for coordination of statewide Federal geographic data activities, the Florida Geographic Information Board (GIB) requested at its June 6, 1997 meeting that the FGDC facilitate the establishment of a Florida Federal Interagency Coordinating Committee in order to improve understanding and ensure participation of federal agency field offices in local data coordination and development. GIB recommended that this committee be modeled on that of North Carolina and that the committee chair should be a policy-level individual who would also sit on the GIB as an ex-officio member. This request follows on the heels of the April 30, 1997 FGDC Steering Committee meeting, reported above, where the FGDC Secretariat has taken the action to draft guidance for improving coordination of data collection activities at the state and local level.

National Science Foundation Joins FGDC:

The National Science Foundation has recently become a member of the Federal Geographic Data Committee. Dr. Robert Corell will participate on the FGDC Steering Committee.

Copies of NSDI Strategy now available:

A Strategy for the NSDI, which provides a vision and goals for building a National Spatial Data Infrastructure, is now available in final form from the FGDC. The new strategy was created through a series of public meetings in the fall of 1996. Many organizations and individuals from the community of spatial data producers and users participated in these meetings. The strategy will provide an organizing structure for the activities of groups with a stake in the NSDI.

UCGIS Summer Assembly Stresses Community Participation in GIS:

The University Consortium for Geographic Information Science (UCGIS) held a summer assembly June 15-20 in Bar Harbor, Maine. GIS education was the focus of the conference, which attracted scholars from thirty-five major American universities. Many of the papers reported on the problems of local communities in gaining access to geographic information and issues associated with the use of geographic information in community mapping. The FGDC plans to work with stakeholder groups such as UCGIS to help improve local access to geographic information. More information on the summer assembly and abstracts of papers can be found at: Those interested in GIS use in local communities may wish to subscribe to a new Internet list server, ppgis-scope where such issues are discussed. More information on this list server and subscribing instructions can be found at:

1997 FGDC Cooperative Programs:

Awards to projects supporting the implementation of the NSDI will be announced later this summer. The NSDI Benefits Program supports projects' lead by field offices of Federal agencies. This program seeks to assess the value of inter-organizational cooperation and data sharing in addressing important issues and decision-making over a particular geographic area.

The program will fund six to eight projects. Award announcement is planned for later this month. The NSDI Competitive Cooperative Agreements Program funds NSDI partnership activities in clearinghouse, educational outreach, framework, metadata implementation, standards development, and institution building. This program will fund up to forty projects. Awards will be announced this month. The NSDI Framework Demonstration Projects Program provides funds for projects that demonstrate and test a full range of framework technical and institutional characteristics. This program will fund up to seven projects and will announce awards this August. Watch the FGDC home page for announcement of these programs.

FGDC Coordinates Funding Opportunities:

For the fiscal year beginning October 1, 1997, the FGDC will coordinate application procedures for three funding programs; the Cooperative Agreements Program (CAP), the Framework Demonstration Projects Program (FDPP) and the NSDI Benefits Program. The programs will be announced simultaneously in October or November. The open period for all three programs will be 90 days. Proposal reviews will take place in March or April of 1998, with awards to be announced in early summer of 1998. As part of an effort to streamline program administration, the CAP program will support projects in the areas of clearinghouse, metadata, standards, outreach and education, and institution building. All framework projects will be consolidated in the FDPP and have two levels of funding. Please contact the FGDC if you wish to be placed on a mailing list to receive a particular program announcement when they come available.

FGDC Metadata Activities:

Public Review of the Metadata Standard

The Public review period for Version 2.0 of the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) closed July 9, 1997. Version 2 of the CSDGM formalizes the method for the creating user-defined metadata elements; establishes the method to develop metadata standard "profiles"; and refines the standard's production rules to make the CSDGM easier to use while ensuring compatibility with metadata collected under the current standard, and compatibility with the International Standards Organization DRAFT Metadata Standard under development. Comments on the revision will be reviewed and Version 2 is planned to be approved and issued late this summer.

FGDC - ISO Metadata Task Group

On June 10-12, the first meeting of the FGDC/International Standards Organization (ISO) Metadata Task Group was held at the USGS National Center, Reston, VA. The FGDC/ISO Metadata Task Group's primary work task is to establish and represent the FGDC position on the ISO draft Metadata Standard being worked by ISO Technical Committee 211, Working Group 3. At the meeting a list of metadata concerns and issues were identified that will be forwarded to the ISO metadata project leader. These concerns include the appropriateness of metadata elements, element obligation (mandatory, mandatory if applicable, and optional), element definition, among others. The FGDC/ISO Metadata Task Group, chaired by Richard A. Pearsall, is a multi-organizational, multi-disciplinary team comprised federal, state, and county government, academia, and vendor representation. Watch the FGDC home page for more information on this group's activity.

Participate in a FGDC Metadata Working Group

At the June 3, 1997 FGDC Coordination Meeting, the Metadata Working Group was established to promote and coordinate geospatial metadata activities among FGDC member agencies in support of the NSDI. The Metadata Working Group is responsible for promoting awareness among FGDC member agencies of the importance of metadata; facilitating the evolution and revision of the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata; and establishing a mechanism for the coordination, development, use, sharing, and dissemination of metadata among FGDC member agencies. FGDC subcommittees, Working Groups, and agency representatives are seeking nominations for participation on the Metadata Working Group participants who are responsible for policies related to the production and use of metadata within the geospatial data community. For more information see the Metadata Working Group site on the FGDC home page.

FGDC Secretariat Staff Changes

Richard (Rick) A. Pearsall of the United States Geological Survey will provide program and technical leadership on FGDC Metadata Standards Activities. Billy Tolar, the past FGDC metadata coordinator, has been selected for a 1-year detail to the USGS Directors Office. Rick can be reached at the email address: For information on Metadata briefings, training, or workshops please contact the FGDC Secretariat.

Metadata Software Survey

There is a proliferation of new FGDC metadata compilation or "editor" software available today. Although there are many different requirements for the development of custom metadata tools, a list of existing tools and their characteristics will help many organizations in their metadata decision-making and software utilization choices. In the interest of informing potential users about tools that are available, the FGDC is requesting all organizations that have built a metadata collection tool that works with the FGDC metadata standard, and is available for distribution, to answer a questionnaire. The short questionnaire includes request for name and description of the metadata program, name of the organization and its contact information, operating system, software requirements, cost, import-export capabilities and maintenance services. The results of this questionnaire will be made available latter this summer. If you want to participate in this survey please contact Doug Nebert at the email address:

National Geospatial Clearinghouse

Under the auspices of the FGDC National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse activity, a total of 37 Clearinghouse Nodes are now on-line representing federal, state, local, and international organizations. These nodes serve searchable indexes of available digital spatial data sets for public discovery and retrieval. These federal, state, local and international sites can be queried simultaneously through two web-based graphical user interfaces; one using HTML, and the other using the Java programming language. The data sites listed below can be accessed at: or the FGDC home page.

Interoperability with Earth Observation Programs

In February National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) and the European Centre for Earth Observation (CEO) held a three-day workshop titled EO/GEO to discuss projects and activities relating to the earth observation community (EO) and the geospatial data community (GEO). Both communities are facing similar data discovery problems and have needs for standardization.

Harmonization with GILS elements

In working with other communities, the FGDC has become aware that the FGDC metadata elements as encoded in the Z39.50 Profile are not fully harmonized with the internationally used Government (or Global) Information Locator Service. All registered Clearinghouse servers will soon be receiving instructions on how and when to update the fgdc.localmap files to harmonization with GILS. It should not require re-indexing of data, only the replacement of the fgdc.localmap (or file. New releases of the Isite software (2.00.07 and beyond) will include this corrected field mapping file.

Overview of FGDC Standards Development - July 1997:

    FGDC Endorsed Standards
    Content Standard for Geospatial Metadata
    Spatial Data Transfer Standards (SDTS)
    Cadastral Data Content Standards
    Classification of Wetlands an Deepwater Habitats

Review Stage -

Completed Public Review -

    Vegetation Classification and Information Standards, Vegetation SubcommitteeA
    Soils Geographic Data Standard, Soils Subcommittee
    Point Profile for SDTS, Geodetic Subcommittee

Out For Public Review (notification made in Federal Register)

    Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standards:

      Part 1, Reporting Methodology, Geodetic Subcommittee
      Part 2, Geodetic Control Networks, Geodetic Subcommittee
      Part 3, National Spatial Data Accuracy Standard, Base Cartographic Subcommittee
      Content Standards for Digital Orthoimagery, Base Cartographic Subcommittee
      Content Standards for Digital Elevation Data, Base Cartographic Subcommittee
      FGDC Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata, Standards Working Group

Draft Stage

    Utilities Data Content Standard, Facilities Working Group
    Facility ID Data Standard, Facilities Working Group CADD Profile for SDTS , Facilities Working Group
    Address Content Standard, Cultural and Demographic Subcommittee
    Metadata Profile for Cultural and Demographic Data, Cultural and Demographic Subcommittee
    Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standards, Part 4: Standard for Hydrographic Surveys and Nautical Charts,Bathymetric Subcommittee
    Metadata Content Standard for Biological Resources Data, Standards Working Group
    Environmental Hazards Geospatial Data Content Standard, Facilities Working Group
    Geospatial Positioning Accuracy Standard, Part 5: Architecture, Engineering, Construction, and Facilities Management, Facilities Working Group

Proposal Stage

    SDTS Raster Profile, Base Cartographic Subcommittee
    Geologic Data Model, Geologic Subcommittee
    Digital Geologic Map Cartography, Geologic Subcommittee
    Content Standard for Remote Sensing Swath Data, NASA
    Encoding Standard for Geospatial Metadata, Clearinghouse Working Group
    Earth Cover Classification System, Earth Cover Working Group

To learn how you can get involved and participate in the standard activities see the Standards Working Group web site on the FGDC home page or contact the FGDC Secretariat.

Framework Activities:

Framework Data Identification Project

The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) and the FGDC are developing an inventory of data that may contribute to the framework. In the first part of the project, statewide surveys will identify available and planned data, especially those of state and county governments. The surveys most often will be conducted by GIS coordination groups in the states. The survey instrument has been developed and tested. A pilot phase for conducting the survey in selected states will be started this summer. At press time, the pilot states include Illinois, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. Additional information about the project is available from the NSGIC at (603) 643-1600, or from the NSGIC home page at

FGDC Framework Demonstration Projects Program (FDPP)

Organizations that test a full range of framework technical and institutional aspects are eligible for the FDPP. The FDPP projects establish operational framework capabilities. Their experience help refine and guide developing framework policies and practices, act as examples of applied framework for other implementers, and serve as starting points for future framework research and development. 1996 Projects:

Participants representing the seven FDPP projects met in May to discuss their interim progress to date. In general, projects are making progress toward meeting their project goals, although several participants noted that implementing the framework is more challenging than was initially anticipated. Selected highlights from the discussions follow. In Utah, the creation of the representation of the Public Land Survey System is a more dynamic activity than was anticipated. In New Mexico, the project has concentrated on education about the framework, concerns about data æcertification', and review of information content requirements. In North Carolina, the project is evaluating the framework's call for "larger, publicly administered parcels," and is concentrating on publicly owned lands of any size. Of the 100 counties asked to provide parcel data for the project, so far 82 have agreed to support the project, and only 2 will be unlikely to do so.

New England Regional Framework Workshop

Several organizations from the New England states have expressed interest in the framework to the FGDC and its member agencies. To develop a more organized approach for identifying common concerns and ways to move forward, State, and regional Federal, and FGDC personnel are organizing a framework workshop in early September. The workshop will concentrate on discussion of orthoimagery, road, and hydrography data, and will include participants from State, local government, regional Federal, and other organizations.

Framework Feature Maintenance Workshop

The framework approach organizes a collaborative effort to create and, more importantly, maintain and continually improve basic themes of geographic data. The ability to share and maintain geospatial data among many organizations in a sustained, cooperative effort is an important operational characteristic of the framework. The proposed technical approach is to use transactions of geographic data, in which only changes in data are exchanged and processed. This approach should reduce the impact of data updates on users' existing investments in data, but is a new and developing technique. To assess current and planned practices of organizations to share data maintenance responsibilities and to identify future needs, the FGDC and the U.S. Geological Survey are sponsoring a workshop on this topic in August.

Framework Introduction and Guide

The Framework Introduction and Guide, formerly known as the framework "handbook," introduces the framework concept, suggests actions that organizations can take to participate, and provides a directory of useful resources. Electronic copy and advanced printed text will be available this summer, with the final printed version available in the late fall. The electronic text will be available from the FGDC home page.

Special thanks to the reviewers of the original drafts, whose comments have helped improve the text immensely. The FGDC Bathymetric and Geodetic Subcommittees and the Coastal States Organization are hosting a facilitated workshop to focus on content standards for shoreline data. Topics for the workshop will include background on policy and technical issues, shoreline standards requirements and definitions, and draft standards. The workshop will be held November 3-5, 1997 at the NOAA Coastal Services Center, Charleston, South Carolina. For more information contact Millington Lockwood (NOAA) at (301) 713-2777 or

SDTS Workshop Announcement

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), and the U.S. Geological Survey invite software developers and spatial data producers interested in implementing the Spatial Data Transfer Standard to participate in a 4-day workshop. The workshop will focus on identifying and solving common problems associated with producing SDTS formatted data and writing software for users of SDTS data. The workshop will be held September 15- 18,1997 in Rolla, Missouri. For more information on workshop registration, the program and accommodations, contact the SDTS task force at (703) 648-4577, e-mail: or visit the SDTS web site at:

To Contact the FGDC:

The FGDC Newsletter describes activities of the geospatial data community and the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. Subscriptions are free of charge. Correspondence or contributions may be directed to the FGDC Secretariat.

FGDC Secretariat Contact Information
Mailing Address:
Federal Geographic Data Committee Secretariat
c/o U.S. Geological Survey
590 National Center
Reston, VA 20192
Voice: (703) 648-5514
Fax: (703) 648-5755

FGDC Information and Documents
FTP via Internet
User name: anonymous
Password: "your E-mail address"
After connecting: cd pub
README.DOC file has current information on the files in each subdirectory.

FGDC home page
Questions and requests via E-mail at bottom of FGDC home page.

Last Updated: Jan 17, 2006 12:45 PM
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