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What is "metadata"?

Simply defined, metadata is data that describes other data. It provides additional information about the data that the GIS uses, which is not included in the data itself, such as date of origination, currency, accuracy, extent, format, custodianship, and collection methodology. Metadata is typically stored in data models, dictionaries, schemas and other representations. Spatial metadata supports easier data access and management. The adoption of metadata standards promotes consistency in the naming, defining, operating, and cataloging of data among different entities.