Baseline of GeoPlatform Standards

GeoSpatial Service Standards

GeoPlatform provides geospatial data using standard data services. See the GeoPlatform WFS/WMS Catalog to find the data available through GeoPlatform’s WFS and WMS services. See the GeoPlatform Tile Service Catalog to find the data available through GeoPlatform’s WMTS.

Web Map Service (WMS)

The OpenGIS® Web Map Service Interface Standard (WMS) provides a simple HTTP interface for requesting geo-registered map images from one or more distributed geospatial databases. A WMS request defines the geographic layer(s) and area of interest to be processed. The response to the request is one or more geo-registered map images (returned as JPEG, PNG, etc) that can be displayed in a browser application. The interface also supports the ability to specify whether the returned images should be transparent so that layers from multiple servers can be combined or not.

Web Feature Service (WFS)

The OpenGIS® Web Feature Service (WFS) standard represents a change in the way geographic information is created, modified, and exchanged on the Internet. Rather than sharing geographic information at the file level using File Transfer Protocol (FTP), for example, the WFS offers direct fine-grained access to geographic information at the feature and feature property level.

Web Map Tile Service (WMTS)

The Web Map Tile Service (WMTS) builds on earlier efforts to

develop scalable, high-performance services for the web-based distribution of cartographic maps. WMTS is inspired by the OSGeo Tile Map Service Specification (available at

Data Format Standards

GeoPlatform generates and caches data in the following formats. To find data available in these formats see the GeoPlatform Artifact Catalog. For more information on GeoPlatform’s data sources see the Data Sources FAQ.


GeoJSON is a format for encoding a variety of geographic data structures and supports the following geometry types: Point, LineString, Polygon, MultiPoint, MultiLineString, and MultiPolygon. Geometric objects with additional properties are Feature objects. Sets of features are contained by FeatureCollection objects.


GeoPackage is an open, standards-based, platform-independent, portable, self-describing, compact format for transferring geospatial information. The GeoPackage Encoding Standard describes a set of conventions for storing the following within an SQLite database:

  • vector features

  • tile matrix sets of imagery and raster maps at various scales

  • attributes (non-spatial data)

  • extensions


The shapefile format is a geospatial vector data format for geographic information system (GIS) software. It is developed and regulated by Esri as a mostly open specification for data interoperability among Esri and other GIS software products. The shapefile format can spatially describe vector features: points, lines, and polygons, representing, for example, water wells, rivers, and lakes. Each item usually has attributes that describe it, such as name or temperature.

Metadata Standards

GeoPlatform follows the Federal Geographic Data Committee’s (FGDC) Geospatial Metadata Standards and Guidelines. For more information on FGDC’s Guidance see the FGDC Technical Guidance: and The GeoPlatform Metadata Recommendations document. For more information on GeoPlatform’s data sources and for getting data published in GeoPlatform see the GeoPlatform Data Sources FAQ.

Agencies publishing to and are expected to create metadata using ISO geospatial metadata standards:

  • ISO 19115: Geographic Information – Metadata content standard and formatted using ISO/TS 19139:2007: Geographic information – Metadata – XML schema

  • ISO 19115-2:2019 Geographic information — Metadata — Part 2: Extensions for acquisition and processing and formatted using ISO/TS 19139-2:2012: Geographic information — Metadata — XML schema implementation — Part 2: Extensions for imagery and gridded data

  • ISO 19115-1:2014 Geographic Information – Metadata – Part 1: Fundamentals – Metadata content standard and formatted using ISO/TS 19115-3:2016 Geographic information — Metadata — Part 3: XML schema implementation for fundamental concepts

From the FGDC Geospatial Metadata Standards and Guidelines Page:

When metadata records are formatted to a common standard, it facilitates the location and readability of the metadata by both humans and machines. NSDI Stakeholders have long utilized the Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM). However, Circular A-119 Revised directs agencies to use voluntary consensus standards in lieu of government-unique standards. Furthermore, Circular A-16 promotes the use of international standards to advance the building of the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI). Several ISO metadata standards are now endorsed by the FGDC and federal agencies and NSDI Stakeholders are encouraged to make the transition to ISO metadata.