Describing maps

Maps are produced to convey information to people. In addition to the map product itself, details should be provided to describe the map and to help map users interpret the information shown on the map. This section considers how maps can be described to others through the use of standardised information, known as metadata. The MESH Project has tried to raise awareness in the marine habitat mapping community of the importance of metadata. A brief definition of metadata is given, followed by an explanation of why it is important to collect metadata. Next, the question of whether it is necessary to build a metadata catalogue is addressed, together with a decision process and an introduction to different levels of metadata. Deciding whether to develop a new metadata standard is then addressed, followed by guidance on how to build and populate a metadata catalogue. Finally, advice on how to share metadata with others is offered, particularly through online sources. Habitat mapping is an expensive and time consuming process and therefore the final products – the habitat maps themselves – are an extremely valuable resource. A useful and accurate description of the resource is almost as valuable as the resource itself, and hence metadata are an essential component of marine habitat mapping.

All material variously copyrighted by MESH project partners 2004-2010

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