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What is Metadata?

Simply defined, metadata is "data about data." Used in the context of digital spatial data, metadata is the background information which describes the content, quality, condition, and other appropriate characteristics of the data. Paper maps contain metadata, primarily as part of the map legend. In this form, metadata is readily apparent and easily transferred between map producers and map users. When map data are in a digital form, metadata is equally as important, but its development and maintenance often require a more conscious effort on the part of data producers and the chain of subsequent users who may modify the data to suit their particular needs.

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