INSPIRE Knowledge Base

Metadata and Catalogue Services


This self-learning module describes what metadata is and how important it is for data access within a distributed computing environment. Geographic Metadata, defined as data about geographical data, represents structured documentation about the available spatial datasets and services. It helps data owners to manage their spatial information efficiently (inventory & advertising role) and enables users to find and assess to what extent the discovered datasets match their requirements (fitness of use). In order to inform users about available spatial information, we need to publish references to existing datasets and services (metadata) in a catalog. The catalog is a central component of the process of information sharing, information dissemination or information awareness (like a library catalog). It assists users to discover information in a systematic and efficient way. The mechanism to search and discover available geographic datasets and services constitutes a “catalog service” in the geospatial community.

  • Metadata definition
  • Metadata standards for geographic information
  • Catalog services – standardization efforts
  • CS-W (Catalog Service for Web)
  • ebRIM
  • Distributed queries
Learning outcomes: 

Upon completion of this lesson the learner should be able to:

  • explain the role of metadata in data sharing and exchanging
  • outline the main metadata standards on spatial datasets and services
  • explain the role of catalog services in data sharing
  • describe the concept of distributed Catalog Service as well as its underlying principles
Intended Audience: 


Data users and data providers appreciating the efficient use of standardised data.



Basic knowledge of (spatial) metadata and data documentation.

Training format: 

Self-learning module using a PDF document (annotated power point), exercises, introductory (video) presentation.

Expected Workload: 
4-5 hours studying the core material, 1-2 hours exercises.



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2. Advanced technical Modules