Environmental Health


What is Metadata?

Metadata is defined as “data about data.” A common example of metadata is the information one might use to search a computer catalog at your local library to find a book. In this catalog, a library patron might find information on the title, author, and key words for the individual books found during a library search. This information would help determine which of the books contain the information of interest to the library patron conducting the search.

Why is Metadata Important?

Data that are part of either the National or NJ EPHT website will be accompanied by related metadata files. Descriptive metadata files allow EPHT Network users to locate information resources through a variety of means, including keywords, geographic boundaries, and date and time. Metadata includes information on the contents of a data resource, how it was created, limitations of the data, access and use restrictions, data quality, and contact information. Overall, these descriptive files help a user decide if a resource found on the network is appropriate for their proposed use.

What Information Does EPHT Metadata Contain?

Metadata files are structured in compliance with the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) standard on metadata. The FGDC is an organization devoted to promoting the coordinated development, use, sharing, and dissemination of geospatial (geographic) data. The FGDC metadata standard was adopted for the EPHT Network because it could capture both spatial and non-spatial information in EPHT data sets. In addition, federal agencies or any organization funded by those agencies is required under Presidential Executive Order 12906 to use this standard to capture information about geospatial datasets (Executive Order 12906). 

The EPHT Network Metadata Profile is a subset of the full FGDC Content Standard. It represents the minimum set of descriptive metadata elements that are required for making data resources available on the EPHT Network. Each metadata record contains sections, each containing several elements describing information about the data set. The sections of a metadata record are:

The Identification section contains the basic information about a data set, including its name, purpose, summary of the contents, geographic scale, and time period. 

Data Quality
The Data Quality section provides key information about the quality of a dataset and helps the consumer of metadata determine if the dataset meets requirements for the intended use.

Entity and Attribute
The Entity and Attribute section provides more detail on data set contents or a link to other documents, such as a data dictionary.

The Distribution section provides information on the organization to contact to obtain a data set, and the conditions for release of data.

Metadata Reference
The Metadata Reference section provides information on the standard used for the metadata record itself, the date the metadata record was created, and who created it. 

The Contact section provides contact information such as an organization name, phone number, and other information needed for a metadata consumer to contact an organization to ask questions about the data set.


Last Reviewed: 9/28/2016