Cultural Resources Geospatial Data Content Standard

Document number


Maintenance authority



A current, accurate spatial representation of all inventoried cultural resources is of interest to Federal government, State Historic Preservation Offices, Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, and Certified Local Historic Preservation Programs. This interest stems from the regulatory processes of managing cultural resources that are consistent with the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) as Amended, the National Environmental Policy Act as Amended, the Archaeological Resources Protection Act, and other laws related to cultural resources. The regulations promulgating these laws require the use of spatial data in support of various decisions and actions related to cultural resource management. This dataset provides feature geometry that is compliant with ISO 19107:2003, Geographic Information – Spatial schema and is intended to be supplemented with attributes maintained by other external database systems. The proposed creation of a new standard is designed to provide a framework for these agencies, to follow when creating, maintaining, and distributing cultural resource spatial data. Cultural resource datasets that are compliant with the standard will facilitate agency compliance with Section 106 and 110 of the NHPA and the Archeological Resources Protection Act and aid in rapid response to disaster situations. In addition, the standard will facilitate the exchange of data among Federal, state, tribal, and local governments, universities, and historic preservation organizations through feature level metadata, while at the same time safe guarding sensitive locational information.


The standard will be used to create, maintain, and distribute cultural resource spatial data. The standard will specify which cultural resources require spatial data, what type of geometry i.e. point, line, or polygon is appropriate for representing cultural resources, and the minimal positional accuracy of legacy and future data. It insures that geospatial data are linked to attribute databases that describe each cultural resource. Moreover the proposed standard will addresses each Federal agency’s responsibility to safeguard sensitive cultural resource geospatial data. Finally, the proposed standard will identify the feature level metadata that should accompany each geospatial dataset.

The standard will address existing or legacy and future spatial data. It will not, however, address descriptive attribute data. Although no national or Federal-wide cultural resource dataset is envisioned, the individual datasets created, maintained, and distributed by Federal agencies, SHPOs, and THPOs using this standard will allow data to be shared more efficiently. The resulting cultural resource datasets should become available for planning efforts at all levels of government resulting in better protection of our important cultural heritage.

Sponsored by

Cultural & Demographic Data Subcommittee

Project history

 Status    Date Custodian   Comments
Proposal 2007-11-15 FGDC Standards Working Group  
Comments    2008-02-11  FGDC Standards Working Group   
Proposal 2008-02-14 FGDC Standards Working Group  
Proposal    2014-03-04  FGDC Standards Working Group   Re-scoped to focus on data transfer