Proposal for a National Spatial Data Infrastructure Standards Project


Development of a Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) Environmental Hazards Geospatial Data Content Standard


March 1997


FGDC Facilities Working Group (FWG). The Point of Contact (POC) for the Environmental Hazards standard is Nancy Blyler (202)761-8893.


To develop a nationally focused Environmental Hazards Geospatial Data Content Standard (hereafter called Environmental Hazards Standard) that will establish a consistent approach to sharing information about natural and manmade substances, materials, and conditions that are, or have the potential to be, detrimental to ecosystems on the earth.


1. To compile common definitions for environmental hazard data that will facilitate the effective, use, understanding, and automation of geospatial information.

2. To standardize entities, attributes, and domain values that will improve the creation, management and data sharing of environmental hazard data.

3. To resolve discrepancies related to the use of similar terms, thereby minimizing duplication within and among systems.


The environmental hazards standard will address data concerning the evaluation and investigation of the existence of environmental hazards, monitoring the presence of hazards, preparedness and protection from hazards, and remediation of their effects. This standard will include the management of information about chemical and biological substances, hazardous materials, and physical conditions that affect the earth's ecosystems, including air, soil, and water systems (both surface water and ground water.) This standard will not address natural disasters (e.g., volcanoes, earthquakes.)


There is no national geospatial data content standard for environmental hazards. A comprehensive data content standard supporting the study, management, and remediation of environmental hazards would be beneficial to hazardous materials managers, solid waste engineers, and public works officers. Benefits would also be realized in emergency situations, when efficient management and data sharing between federal and local agencies is imparative to containing hazardous materials and protecting the environment.

Development of Environmental Hazard Standards through the FGDC will provide an opportunity for broad participation from national, state, and local governments, municipalities, professional societies, and private industry. Environmental Hazard Standards will also support the FGDC's integrated standard database project and will provide new data sharing opportunities for the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) (i.e., federal, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector.)


The FWG will establish an Environmental Hazards project team to develop this Environmental Hazards Standard. The project team will begin development of this Environment Hazards Standard using the Environmental Hazards information contained in the Tri-Service Spatial Data Standard (TSSDS). However, the project team or the resulting standard will not be constrained to the content extracted from the TSSDS. The entity classes, entity types, etc. may be enhanced and modified to create a comprehensive Environmental Hazard Data Content standard that meets the diverse requirements of federal, state, and community environmental data users. The project team will solicit input from a broad range of agencies and environmental groups for development of the standard.

The FWG will also maintain an Environmental Hazards database containing the entity/attribute/domain information that can be used to support the Standards Working Group (SWG) integrated feature registry project.


As mentioned in the approach paragraph, the TSSDS is a related standard that includes Environmental Hazards information. Additional content added to the Environmental Hazard standard (beyond what is available from the TSSDS) will be closely coordinated with the Tri-Service CADD/GIS Technology Center so that later versions of the TSSDS may potentially incorporate this additional information. This project will also be coordinated with the Facilities Identification project.

Other related standards (relevant to domain values) are:

EPA Order 2180.1, June 26, 1987 standard for Chemical Abstracts Service Registry Number Data Standard for using CAS Registry Number for identification of chemical substances. ANSI X3.50-1986, American National Standard for information systems --representations for U.S. customary, SI, and other units to be used in systems with limited character sets. NIST Special Publication 811, 1995 Edition, Guide for the Use of the International System of Units (SI) for standardizing units of measure.


The FWG has formed an Environmental Hazards project team to begin work on the development of this standard. The development of a working draft Environmental Hazards Standard is expected to take 9-12 months. Once the FWG is satisfied with the content of this Environmental Hazards Standard it will be forwarded to the SWG for consideration to go out for public review. The FWG expects to have a completed, approved Environmental Hazard standard in 24 months.


The FWG has adequate resources to accomplish the initial development of this Environmental Hazards Standard. If after review and comment from other Federal Agencies and the non-Federal sector there is considerable additional content need, then additional resources may be required.


The primary participants will be the members of the FWG which includes representatives from federal agencies, municipalities, professional associations, and private industry.


The FWG proposes pursuing the development of this Environmental Hazards Standard as an FGDC standard. The FWG may consider pursuing (at a later date) the development of the Environmental Hazards Standard as an ANSI (American National Standards Institute) Standard within ANSI's technical committee for GIS, NCITS L1. FGDC would serve as the Target Authorization Body until this Environmental Hazards Standard becomes an ANSI Standard.