Massachusetts Department of Public Health seal Massachusetts Environmental Public Health Tracking

What is Metadata?

Metadata is most commonly defined as 'data about data' and this holds true for all MA EPHT metadata records. While metadata can mean different things in different settings, for the MA EPHT website, a metadata record is a descriptive record presented in a standardized format that offers specific information about a dataset.

Similar to the way in which a card in the card catalog at the library can help someone find out more information about a book, a metadata record can help someone learn more information about the dataset that the metadata record describes.

Metadata records provide the who, what, when, where, and why of the dataset.

Why Is Metadata Important?

A metadata record is designed to act as a resource that can help someone discover more information about a specific dataset. Complete and up-to-date metadata records are of great value.

Using a predefined standard for the information contained in a metadata record makes it easier to use and understand metadata.

The standard used to create the metadata records both in the MA EPHT and National EPHT Programs was developed by the Federal Geographic Data Committee, or FGDC. The standard is named the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM), Version 2, (or FGDC-STD-001-1998). While this FGDC standard was originally developed for geospatial data, it was easily adapted for EPHT purposes.

For more information on metadata, please see the metadata section of the links page.

Share this page