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    Development of Spatial Data Guidelines and Standards: Spatial Data Set Documentation to Support Hydrologic Analysis in the U.S. Geological Survey

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    Spatial data analysis has become an integral component in many surface and subsurface hydrologic investigations within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Currently, one of the largest costs in applying spatial data analysis is the cost of developing the needed spatial data. Therefore, guidelines and standards are required for the development of spatial data in order to allow for data sharing and reuse; this eliminates costly redevelopment. In order to attain this goal, the USGS is expanding efforts to identify guidelines and standards for the development of spatial data for hydrologie analysis. Because of the variety of project and database needs, the USGS has concentrated on developing standards for documenting spatial data sets to aid in the assessment of data set quality and compatibility of different data sets.

    An interim data set documentation standard (1990) has been developed that provides a mechanism for associating a wide variety of information with a data set, including data about source material, data automation and editing procedures used, projection parameters, data statistics, descriptions of features and feature attributes, information on organizational contacts, lists of operations performed on the data, and free-form comments and notes about the data, made at various times in the evolution of the data set. The interim data set documentation standard has been automated using a commercial geographic information system (GIS) and data set documentation software developed by the USGS. Where possible, USGS developed software is used to enter data into the data set documentation file automatically. The GIS software closely associates a data set with its data set documentation file; the documentation file is retained with the data set whenever it is modified, copied, or transferred to another computer system. The Water Resources Division of the USGS is continuing to develop spatial data and data processing standards, with emphasis on standards needed to support hydrologic analysis, hydrologic data processing, and publication of hydrologic thematic maps. There is a need for the GIS vendor community to develop data set documentation tools similar to those developed by the USGS, or to incorporate USGS developed tools in their software.


    hydrology, geographic information systems (GIS), spatial data, digital cartography, database, data set, data standard, documentation, data quality, data dictionary, data integrity, data management, data sharing

    Author Information:

    Fulton, JL
    Chief, Applications Assistance Unit, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, VA

    Committee/Subcommittee: D18.01

    DOI: 10.1520/STP24182S