ISO 19115-1:2014 Geographic information - Metadata - Part 1: Fundamentals

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Full name ISO 19115-1:2014, Geographic information – Metadata – Part 1: Fundamentals
Version Edition 1
Amendments None
Corrigenda None
Published by ISO/TC 211
Languages English, French
Online overview
Type of standard ISO International Standard

Application level

Related standard(s) ISO 19115:2003, Geographic information -- Metadata
ISO 19115-2:2009, Geographic information — Metadata — Part 2: Extensions for imagery and gridded data
ISO 19115-3, Geographic information – Metadata – Part 3: XML schema implementation of metadata fundamentals
ISO 19131:2007, Geographic information – Data product specifications
ISO/TS 19139:2007, Geographic information – Metadata – XML schema implementation
ISO/TS 19139-2:2012, Geographic information -- Metadata -- XML Schema Implementation -- Part 2 : Extensions for imagery and gridded data
ISO 19157:2013, Geographic information – Data quality
ISO 15836:2009, Information and documentation – The Dublin Core metadata element set
Application The standard specifies how to document metadata, which includes information on data quality, lineage, etc.
Conformance classes Completeness test
Maximum occurrence test
Data type test
Domain test
Schema test
Exclusiveness test
Definition test
Standard metadata test
Metadata profiles


This part of ISO 19115 defines the schema required for describing geographic information and services by means of metadata. It provides information about the identification, the extent, the quality, the spatial and temporal aspects, the content, the spatial reference, the portrayal, distribution, and other properties of digital geographic data and services.

This part of ISO 19115 is applicable to:

  • the cataloguing of all types of resources, clearinghouse activities, and the full description of datasets and services;
  • geographic services, geographic datasets, dataset series, and individual geographic features and feature properties.

This part of ISO 19115 defines:

  • mandatory and conditional metadata sections, metadata entities, and metadata elements;
  • the minimum set of metadata required to serve most metadata applications (data discovery, determining data fitness for use, data access, data transfer, and use of digital data and services);
  • optional metadata elements – to allow for a more extensive standard description of resources, if required;
  • a method for extending metadata to fit specialized needs.

Though this part of ISO 19115 is applicable to digital data and services, its principles can be extended to many other types of resources such as maps, charts, and textual documents as well as non-geographic data. Certain conditional metadata elements might not apply to these other forms of data.

Implementation benefits

ISO 19115-1:2014 is a revision of ISO 19115:2003 (with its corrigendum) and hence replaces it, but because of the sheer volume of legacy metadata already in the latter format, ISO 19115:2003 will probably remain available through ISO (as withdrawn rather than deleted). Hence, while one will probably need to support ISO 19115 for all the legacy metadata one will use, it will be better to implement ISO 19115-1:2014 for all new metadata captured. Many proprietary and open source GISs already support ISO 19115:2003 and they should soon support ISO 19115-1:2014. Nevertheless, it is still necessary to understand the standard to be able to interpret the metadata.

Implementation guidelines

ISO 19115-1:2014 is structured similarly to ISO 19115:2003, but all the UML diagrams have been included together in Clause 6, rather than split between the main text and an annex. The abstract test suite is now in Annex A (as is usual for the standards of ISO/TC 211), the data dictionary is still in Annex B, and the rules for extensions and profiles are still in Annex C. The annex with the comprehensive dataset metadata application profile has been removed. The informative annexes have been consolidated into two: Annex D has implementation examples and Annex E covers metadata implementation. There is also a new, normative Annex F, which provides the discovery metadata for geographic resources – effectively, it is the minimum metadata to be implemented for inclusion in a catalogue of products and/or services. Referring to the last sentence of the scope, an example of a conditional metadata element that does not apply to other forms of data is the element ‘defaultLocale’, which is only relevant for digital data.

Most importantly for migrating from ISO 19115:2003 to ISO 19115-1:2014, Annex G provides the details of the changes made in the revision, which are also summarised in the Introduction. Most of the changes were adding new attributes (but not new mandatory ones) and extending code lists to improve the functionality of the standard, such as catering better for online services and repositories. The major changes were:

  • Removing the data quality information package, which is now part of ISO 19157:2013, Geographic information – Data quality.
  • Including the service metadata from ISO 19119:2005, Geographic information – Services, and ISO 19119:2005/Amd 1:2008.
  • Removing the concept of “core metadata”.
  • Making clear that the scope of ISO 19115-1:2014 is not limited only to describing conventional, structured geospatial datasets, but is also for describing services, unstructured datasets with geospatial references, initiatives, repositories, analogue maps and other analogue resources, such as specimens and other artefacts.
  • The UML packages, classes, and elements in ISO 19115-1:2014 have different identifiers from those in ISO 19115:2003, because they are independent standards and to ensure that there is no confusion caused by a mixed environment of metadata to be discovered and interpreted.
  • Where elements were changed, the old one was deleted and replaced with a new one with a different name.
  • Some definitions were broadened.
  • The “Short name” and “Domain code” are no longer used, as they are now redundant. This removes one column from the data dictionary tables in Annex B.

The abstract class DS_Resource has been added to the high-level metadata application diagram (Figure 1 in ISO 19115:2014) to make clear that ISO 19115-1:2014 metadata applies to resources and aggregations of resources other than just geospatial datasets, such as services.