A Guide to the Role of Standards in Geospatial Information Management

The use of geospatial information is increasing rapidly. There is a growing recognition in both government and the private sector that geography is a vital component of effective decision making. Citizens with no recognized expertise in geospatial information, and who are unlikely to even be familiar with the term, are increasingly using and interacting with geospatial information; indeed in some cases they are contributing to its collection – often in an involuntary way. In order to effectively leverage the value of geospatial information, the information must be easy to access and use. Given that geospatial information comes from many different sources, and is managed by a very large number of different providers – from mapping agencies to commercial data providers to volunteered geographic information - there is an overwhelming requirement to easily discover and share this information. Standards have a key role in this respect and are essential to delivering authoritative geospatial services and products which meet the requirements of the wider community of users. Standards and conformance provide significant value2 to society and government, are essential for an expanding national economy and vital to the global competitiveness of both industry and nations.

This guide addresses the role of standards in geospatial information management:
- Defines what a standard is; - Makes a case for open standards; - Discusses why such standards are valuable; - Describes geospatial standards and related best practices; - Introduces a goal-based approach to standards adoption and a multi-tiered standardization Geospatial Levels of Standards Use; - Characterizes emerging standards and trends; - Gives concrete examples of standards in use; and - Concludes with suggestions for next steps.

This guide is accompanied by a “Companion Document on Standards Recommendations by Tier” which details available standards and their applications.
Year of Publication
Date Published
Open Geospatial Consortium, The International Organization for Standards (ISO) Technical Committee 211 Geographic information/Geomatics; and the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO).