Metadata - descriptive information about data - is critical to helping visitors find and use published data effectively. Good metadata reduces the need for visitors to seek personal assistance, helps prevent misinterpretation of data, and encourages higher data quality.
Metadata is generally divided into two types:
- Metadata that provides an overview of the data. This kind of metadata helps people find the data through internet searches, while navigating your portal, or even while navigating other data portals which might include your catalog.
- Metadata that provides details about specific parts of your data. This kind of metadata enables people to use your data effectively, by helping them understand the various elements it includes and potential limitations.
This guide avoids the details of specific technologies; however, it takes into account existing (and emerging) national and international standards for metadata. Refer to the Additional Resources section for more information.
To assist cities in advancing open data programs in their own communities, the Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, a partner in the What Works Cities initiative, has created this metadata guide. By learning from the experiences of other cities and following Center-developed best practices, cities will have a greater understanding of metadata and be well on their way to national leadership in open government data.