Do spatial data consumers really understand data quality information?

Anna T. Boin and Gary J. Hunter
Cooperative Research Centre for Spatial Information
Department of Geomatics
The University of Melbourne
VIC 3010, Australia
Tel.: + 61 3 8344 9200; Fax: + 61 3 9349 5185,

Metadata is an important tool for recording data assets and in the spatial information industry it is also used to describe the quality of data to consumers. It is text-based information with industry-specific terms, however there is a general impression in the industry that consumers still do not fully understand its meaning. This research aims to bridge the communication gap between data providers and consumers by designing, developing and testing better ways to communicate spatial quality information. The research intends to develop strategies for presenting quality information that meets the needs of the consumer when deciding whether or not to use a particular dataset. Accordingly, we believe there are three questions to be answered: (1) Can this be achieved without losing information? (2) Is the quality information prescribed in current standards adequate and helpful? and (3) Will data providers be able to conform to the new protocols? Our aim is not to categorize the quality of data as ‘good’ or ‘bad’—since that is task dependent—but rather to communicate the reliability of the data in a way that allows consumers to make the necessary value judgments about its suitability for their needs.

Keywords: spatial data, consumers, quality information, usefulness

In: Caetano, M. and Painho, M. (eds). Proceedings of the 7th International Symposium on Spatial Accuracy Assessment in Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, 5 – 7 July 2006, Lisboa, Instituto Geográfico Português

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