Data Standards

Data standards are documented agreements on representation, format, definition, structuring, tagging, transmission, manipulation, use, and management of common data.

The use of common terminology and common data element definitions enables the integration of databases, and promotes more efficient and effective use of data by users of commonly defined data from disparate sources.

The Australian government policy on Public Data requires, where they exist, the use of agreed open standards when making data available.

Geoscience Australia uses domain standards that are openly available, to provide a common language for communicating ideas and provide consistency of meaning of the data collected, research undertaken and products created. The Strategy and Vision for maximising our data potential is supported by data management that results in trusted, reusable, interoperable, findable and accessible data.

Geoscience Australia advocates the use of many data standards and we are actively represented on standards organisations that govern these standards. For example, the International Organisation for Standardization (through Standards Australia), Open Geospatial Consortium and the World Wide Web Consortium.

One of the most commonly used standards in Geoscience Australia is ISO 19115 - Geographic Information - Metadata which is used to catalogue our data and data products.

In developing and maintaining national geoscience data standards, Geoscience Australia strives to consult as widely as possible with the geoscience and geospatial industry. We aim for excellence in the provision of our standards and advice. The development and maintenance of our standards depends on cooperative effort and consultation with those who have an interest in the value and use of data standards.

Geoscience Australia is part of the international research community and as such supports FAIR data principles (data that is Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable). More information on how Geoscience Australia meets these principles is outlined on the GA and FAIR data principles page.

Geoscience Australia has developed a profile (GA Profile) of the ISO 19115:2014 Geographic Information metadata standard. The GA Profile is designed to support the documentation and discovery of Geoscience Australia datasets and other resources in our catalogue, as well as the data management and sharing requirements within the agency.

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Standard metadata and vocabularies for our data catalogue

At Geoscience Australia we have an enterprise data catalogue, eCat, where data products can be found. This catalogue uses a metadata profile based on the ISO19115:2014 standard which allows us to describe our data using an agreed community standard. We are also standardising the geoscience keywords to better enable search of the catalogue.

The schema and vocabularies used in the eCat are available

Previous version

The metadata standard previously implemented and used widely in the Australian and New Zealand spatial community was the ANZLIC Metadata Profile which was based on the ISO19115:2005 version. This standard is still current but will be superseded when the ISO19115-3 is finally published sometime in 2018-19.

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Standard web services used to deliver our data

Where possible, data products at Geoscience Australia are delivered through web services. Web services allow access to GA data without having to store datasets locally. GA supports a variety of standard web service protocols including - RESTful API and OGC services.

The services can be found both in eCat and in an online register

To consume these services you need access to speciality software. If the processed data is available, the acquisition method will be discoverable in eCat.

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Standards organisations

A standards organisation, sometimes referred to as a standards body, is an organisation with authority to endorse official standards for given applications.

Some examples of standards organisations that Geoscience Australia participates in are:

Standards that Geoscience Australia contributes to:

Common terminology

The use of common terminology and common data element definitions enables the integration of databases, and promotes more efficient and effective use of data by users of commonly defined data from disparate sources. The use of 'Best Practice' documents also supports standardisation.

  • AusGeoRef: Includes more than 170,000 bibliographic references to Australian geoscience literature.
  • Australian Stratigraphic Units Database: This database provides the primary national standard for geological names in Australia. It records information on all Australian stratigraphic units and their usage in literature, making it a centralised reference point for all Australian stratigraphic unit information. The database is also the repository for definition descriptions for these units.
  • Arcview: AVP and ArcGIS geoscience style symbols for PC platform [ZIP 4MB]
  • Best practice manual for gravity surveys (includes data interchange standard for point data)
  • The Spatial Data Dictionary (2004) is a specification for the capture of geoscientific spatial data created in 2004.  It describes fields for each feature type in a database, containing the themes created from Geoscience Australia's databases. It forms a foundation for the production of geoscientific spatial data by specifying rules regarding the structure of such data.
  • Standard geological map colours [ZIP 765KB] In the 1980s, Geoscience Australia's predecessor, the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR), published an Australian standard colour scheme for geological maps. However, the increasing complexity of geological maps published in recent years has meant that maintaining a single colour scheme for all geological maps is no longer practical. The BMR colour scheme may, however, be applied to some geological maps as a rough guide.
  • Symbols used on geological maps: This publication, published by the Bureau of Mineral Resources (BMR), presents standard and special (preferred) geological map symbols that are for use at all stages of map preparation and publication. Drafting specifications are included. The symbols were endorsed by the Chief Government Geologists' Conference, 1988.
  • Geoscience Australia Topographic Data and Map Specifications: This publication is made up of three main sections; Section 1 defines the feature based model used for the National Topographic Database, Section 2 provides the rules and guidelines for the generation of the Geoscience Australia 1:100 000 and 1:250 000 National Topographic Map Series products and Section 3 provides information on a variety of topics related to revision processes and materials, model structure, general concepts in relation to data capture and attribution.

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