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ISO 19115 is an international current “best practice” geospatial metadata standard which was built on the framework of the earlier US Federal Geographic Data Committee / Content Standard for Geospatial Metadata (FGDC/CSDGM).


ISO Standards for geographic data and related resources are managed by ISO Technical Committee 211.


To provide a clear procedure for describing digital geographic datasets so that users can determine usability and accessibility. This International Standard provides information about the identification, the extent, the quality, the spatial and temporal schema, spatial reference, and distribution of digital geographic data. While ISO 19115 is applicable to digital data, its principles can be extended to many other forms of geographic data such as maps, charts, and textual documents as well as non-geographic data.


The base ISO geospatial metadata standard (ISO 19115) was released in 2003 and an extension of the base for describing imagery and gridded data was completed in 2009 (ISO 19115-2). Both versions are interoperable and are UML* representations that specify the content, conditionality, and interrelations of the data documentation elements.

ISO 19139 and ISO 19139-2 is an XML** implementation of ISO 19115 and ISO 19115-2 respectively that specifies metadata record format.

There are plans to create a revised version of the US national geospatial meta-data standard as a profile (required parameters provided with defaults) of ISO 19115 (ISO 19115:2014; ISO 19115-1).*** This work is in progress and has not yet been finalized.

*UML (Unified Modeling Language) is a general-purpose modeling language in the field of software engineering, which is designed to provide a standard way to visualize the design of a system. It was created and developed by Grady Booch, Ivar Jacobson and James Rumbaugh at Rational Software and has since been adopted as a standard by the Object Management Group (OMG) — which has managed it since. The UML was also accepted by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) as an approved ISO standard. Since then it has been periodically revised to cover the latest revision of UML.

** XML (Extensible Markup Language) defines a set of rules for encoding documents in a format which is both human-readable and machine-readable. Although the design of XML focuses on documents, it is widely used for representation of arbitrary data structures - such as those used in web services.

***Yes… ISO 19115-2 came out before ISO 19115-1.

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