Ocean – Best Practices

These resources include best practices and recommendations for marine planning data interoperability:

Metadata Standards

Metadata Standards – Recommended

Metadata, data which describes an information resource, is critical for the use and discovery of the datasets that are retrievable by Ocean.Data.gov.  Within information management communities, a distinction is often made between place-based geospatial data and non-geospatial data.  Likewise, a similar distinction holds for “structured” versus “unstructured” data in the information world, a distinction that often falls along the geospatial/non-geospatial data arenas, with geospatial data typically being highly structured for information interchange.

ISO19115 establishes the international standard for geospatial metadata.  Within the United States, the Federal Geospatial Data Committee (FGDC) references the North American Profile, ANSI 453, which is a profile of ISO19115 for use in Mexico, the U.S., and Canada by the geospatial community.  Please reference the appendices for a listing of applicable metadata standards for reference and/or adoption by CMSP.

For non-geospatial information resources, the Dublin Core metadata element set is typically referenced.  The Dublin Core Metadata Element Set is a vocabulary of 15 properties for use in describing a wide range of resources. The name “Dublin” is due to its origin at a 1995 invitational workshop in Dublin, Ohio, and the “core” descriptor indicates its elements are broad and generic.

Quick References:

  1. Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) – Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM)
  2. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) 453 – North American Profile
  3. North American Profile (NAP) of the ISO 19115
  4. Dublin Core Metadata Element Set
  5. Darwin Core Metadata Standard

For additional information on metadata requirements and standards, see the Marine Metadata Interoperability.

Common Mapping Standards

Data Encoding


Spatial Data Standards

In order to fully utilize the capabilities of geographic information and modern GIS technology, spatial data needs to be shared and systems need to be interoperable. Data standards play a crucial role in the seamless exchange of data. Agencies and organizations benefit from the use of standards by reducing data redundancy, increasing data compatibility, and improving the consistency and efficiency of data collection.

This section includes links and information highlighting supported data models and relevant content standards.

Data Content Standards

American National Standard Institute (ANSI) Geographic Information Framework Data Content Standard

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Geographic Information Framework Data Content Standard (FDCS) was developed by thematic experts and is based on conceptual models specified in international standards. It was developed with conceptual data modeling principles to ensure that the data content is comprehensive enough to satisfy a wide range of applications and flexible enough to handle future developments. The FDCS is designed to accommodate the development of interoperable applications that make data more accessible to users and easier to integrate with other sources.

The Framework component of the U.S. National Spatial Data Infrastructure refers specifically to those geospatial data themes identified as the foundation upon which all other data layers are structured and integrated for analysis and application. These seven themes of data are cadastral, digital orthoimagery, elevation, geodetic control, governmental units, hydrography, and transportation.

The references below show more information on how the ANSI Framework and accompanying content standards can be implemented:

Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard (CMECS)

Coastal planners and resource managers working in the marine environment routinely face challenges related to data availability and consistency. Often, different types of data from multiple sources must be integrated to fully characterize an area. The lack of a framework in which to accomplish this integration has prompted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Coastal Services Center, in partnership with NatureServe and others, to develop the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard Version 3.1 (CMECS). CMECS is an ecological classification system that is universally applicable for coastal and marine systems and complementary to existing wetland and upland systems.

The CMECS framework accommodates all the physical, biological, and chemical information that collectively determine a marine habitat type. This helps managers better understand the processes impacting these habitats. Unlike many classification systems CMECS is compatible with all observational technologies, which facilitates the integration (cross-walking) of existing data into a single framework.

Additional Information:

For more information, see the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard.

Marine Metadata Interoperability

What is an Ontology?

An ontology is a representation of knowledge, generally of a particular subject (domain), written with a standardized, structured syntax. An ontology contains concepts (resources), which serve to characterize the domain.

Ontologies and Thesauri References

Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning Discovery Vocabularies Workshop

A Joint Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute/USGS/NOAA Workshop

Data Quality Guidelines and Policies

Guidelines for Ensuring and Maximizing the Quality, Objectivity, Utility, and Integrity of Information Disseminated by Federal Agencies

Congress directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to issue government-wide guidelines that “provide policy and procedural guidance to Federal agencies for ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by Federal agencies….” In addition, each Federal agency is required to issue guidelines ensuring and maximizing the quality, objectivity, utility, and integrity of information (including statistical information) disseminated by the agency and establish administrative mechanisms allowing affected persons to seek and obtain correction of information maintained and disseminated by the agency that does not comply with the guidelines issued under subsection.

The following links provide quick access to existing data quality standards and guidelines for those Federal agencies contributing data to Ocean.Data.gov: