FGDC Geologic Data Subcommittee Meeting
July 14, 1997

Participants: Tom King (FS), Lindsay McClelland (NPS), Jan Morton (Chair, USGS), Ron Smith (BLM), David Zinzer (MMS).

Presenter: Kevin Backe (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers)

Recorder: Patty Hawk (USGS)

Following the introductions, Jan Morton proceeded to explain the nature of the handouts for the meeting. Jan highlighted two memorandums which require the participation of the subcommittees. A memorandum from John Moeller establishes a new ad-hoc working group to review issues related to metadata. Nominations for this ad-hoc committee are due by July 25, 1997. The other memorandum from Kathy Clement calls for participation on a Standards Review Board.

Cooperative Agreements Awards: Non-selected proposals will be notified first. Subcommittees should provide reviewers for this program every year. An average of 60 proposals are received for each review cycle. The reviewing task can be very time consuming, but it is a rewarding experience. A call for reviewers will occur in the Spring of 1998.

The memorandum from the National Archives (NARA) requires the submission of comments. SUBJECT: Generic GIS Series Description.

Kevin Backe conducted the presentation on the Feature Registry on behalf of the Standards Working Group. Kevin stated that he would approach the presentation from the viewpoints of the Standards Working Group and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

PART 1: The slide presentation (hard copies were provided) pertained to the FGDC Thematic Feature Registry project. This project was put together by the TRI-Service CADD/GIS and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Definitions have been derived from the ISO standards. The Feature Registry will be maintained by the FGDC and will be housed at one location. All contents will be integrated into a single data model. The intent is to bring the subcommittees together to review their relationships and areas of overlap. The lack of consistency between standards should be addressed.

The intent is also to provide a product to the community. The registry can serve as a tool to serve query engines. The initial step will be to allow the FGDC to integrate its data, and the end result will help the external community.

The issue of the diversity of data management platforms must be addressed. In many cases attributes are the same. The semantics of the data will be targeted. Translation is not an issue.

The Feature Registry will be championed by the Standards Working Group. The revised data will be sent back to the subcommittees to ensure that the standard content is intact.


  • Database building: Standards that are in optimum condition will be sent forward for integration into the Feature Registry within the next year.
  • Availability: After integration is completed, the standards will be made available to the subcommittees to ensure the correctness of the content.
  • Problem identification: Potential conflicts will be identified and subcommittees will be advised of the findings.


  • Conflict Resolution: Resolve identified conflicts and update the Feature Registry.
  • Thesaurus: Provide an overview of terminology.
  • Availability: Make it available to the general public.
  • Maintenance: Data content and classification standards will be an on-going process.

The ultimate goal is to achieve total integration (very difficult task). High level generic definitions will be linked to more theme specific terms.

PHASE 1: This phase included the development of the prototype. The prototype was released to all subcommittees chairs for review. Full implementation was authorized by the Coordination Group and the Standards Working Group.

LESSONS LEARNED: The standards still need to be built. A report of the encountered overlaps will be available. The database will use Windows based applications. Access is through Microsoft Access. Although the use of this tool will not be mandatory, its use will allow integration with the system used by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A copy of the access tool will be made available to points of contact. Subcommittees' active participation is desired. The Corps will have people available to work with subcommittees' representatives.

ACTION: Provide Kevin Backe with the name of contact for the GDSC.


Participation is required. Standards Working Group will be the coordinator. They are interested in what is available now and in the next nine months, so that they can accommodate our requirements.

Database building: It is requested that several subcommittees review the model and the translation issue to establish requirements. Tools will be available for conversion methodology. If the subcommittees' needs are not being met, it should be stated. Input is imperative.

The center will update the database and provide a written report to the sponsoring subcommittee for verification. CD ROMs will be distributed to the subcommittees for review before the database is finalized for release. Web access is envisioned in the next four months for public access.

In the case when a standard is sponsored by two subcommittees, they should both reach consensus in regard to the revisions made by the center before the standard is placed in the database.


  • Gain understanding, commit to contribute, and establish a point of contact.
  • Determine the resources required for the effort (both external support and internal effort).
  • Develop a time line for completion of the applicable standard.
  • Begin the database building (enter each applicable standard).

PART 2: The second part of the presentation pertained to the Data Model. Hard copies of the slides were not available.

ACTION: Request Denise Perreca to provide hard copies of Part 2 of the presentation.

The elements of the model were discussed. They included the following principles: feature, attribute and domain. The importance of defining a single model is to ease the translation process into a single database.

The model is SDTS based as follows:

  • Feature: Entity type attribute + spatial object. Categorization of a specified set of similar real world phenomena.
  • Attribute: A defined characterization of a feature.
  • Domain: A list of values or range of values permissible for a specific attribute.


Feature (ISO feature type): Man made objects as well as natural objects. Geospatial objects.

Attribute: (ISO feature type): Attributes may be identified to record metrics about a feature, proper names, status condition of information, use designations, or any other information deemed important enough to be shared by the community.

Domain: Domains may be specified as a list of values of material for a particular attribute.

Data standards will be linked by common terms within them. Overlap and conflicts will be determined via the thesaurus to seek for synonyms. Standard terms will be developed to facilitate the linkage.

FEATURE ELEMENTS: Name, code, definition and object type.
ATTRIBUTE ELEMENTS: Name, code (optional), definition, data type and domain.
DOMAIN ELEMENTS: Reference name, attribute value and attribute value definition.

Some of the fields under these elements only allow for 32 characters at this time. This is not a set limitation. The fields could be expanded if the need arises.


  • Data content standard reference
  • Submitting organization reference
  • Feature example
  • Feature Registry thesaurus. List of synonyms to link the information.


  • Software application to query
  • Provide comparison capability
  • Assist with the refinement of features
  • Window based


Software application to develop data content standard. The FGDC/SWG may use this software template to create data content standards. The template tool will help to structure these standards in the FGDC data model. It is Windows based (3.1, 95) and does not require additional proprietary application software.

The subcommittees could use this model if it meets their requirements. Further discussions for improvement will be considered.

Kevin Backe concluded his presentation and allowed for questions. A question was raised as to the level or nature of specificity needed to identify features. Kevin stated that a feature could be based on shape and form, or function. There is not a wrong way on how to group attributes. Emphasis should be placed on the most pertinent attribute. Each organization should determine which one is the most pertinent identifier. Function vs. shape.

The scale issue is also important. How will this be handled? This could be based on the community's needs. The data could be viewed at two different scales and not necessarily be considered a conflict or overlap. Some levels of resolution could be linked together.

Legal component should also be addressed. A paradigm needs to be developed for legal issues. A definition needs to be established to explain legal vs. physical.


The standard proposals were sent to the Working Group. They came back with minor suggestions. The revised proposals are included in the handouts.

There has been a change for the approving process. Public review will be allowed at the proposal stage. Before, proposals were sent for public review at the draft stage for a period of 90 days. The change to allow public reviews at the proposal stage will simplify the process. The proposal review period will be for 30 days. This change has been endorsed by the Coordination Group.

Directive No. 3 (included in handouts) which pertains to the 90 days draft review will also be applicable to the 30 days proposal review. The GDSC should prepare the pertinent documentation for the public review (refer to samples attached to directive No. 3). These documents should be short. We also need to identify potential reviewers. The 30 day review will be for the purpose of identifying common efforts, rather than generating critique.

It was discussed whether international professional societies should be invited to review standards. Should we adhere to international standards, compromise, or maintain our internal approach? Different international approaches could open the arena for conflicts. At this point, only international entities that have been involved in the development of a proposal will be involved in the review. Currently, we envisioned the participation of Canada.

Carto Symbol: There is a group working on it. The Open-File Report containing the symbols was distributed for review by state organizations. The comments suggested to eliminate the first part of the report, and there were minor comments on the actual symbology.


  • Include the Geologic Data Model Standard in the Feature Registry.
  • Identify contact for Kevin Backe.
  • Determine if the Symbology Standard fits under the Feature Registry.
  • Propose individuals in professional societies (state and local) to notify them of our proposals (submit names within the next two weeks).
  • Request Jennifer Fox to provide the FGDC mailing list (Patty Hawk).
  • Determine if we should include international societies in the review process. (Kevin Backe will check this matter). For the moment, we will only include professional societies in Canada.
  • Wait until Dave Soller returns from overseas to evaluate the Feature Registry presentation.

Next Meeting: October 20, 1997, 1:00-4:00 pm

The meeting was adjourned at 3:30 pm.