Geospatial metadata is basically defined as data that has reference to a geographic location or context is linked with selected position on the surface of the earth. The data which has a definite or indefinite geographic extent can be restored in a Geographic Information System or GIS. However, it can also be stored as documents, datasets, geospatial databases, earth imagery, and so on that is available in a certain native environment but it still featured attributes that is relevant to a geospatial metadata.
Geospatial metadata gained recognition and appreciation during the 1980s and the 1990s. This has helped in initiating metadata collection that is based on diverse formats contained in agencies, countries, continents, and communities of practice. One good example of the geospatial metadata evolution was NASA’s DIF metadata. This metadata was developed in 1987 at the time of Earth Science and Applications Data Systems Workshop. By 1988 it was approved and then became official.
In 1992 to 1994, the US Federal Geographic Data Committee also developed its own geospatial metadata. Then in 1996, Australia and New Zealand showed their interests in geospatial metadata as well and it was seen on version 1 illustrating metadata guidelines. After the harmonized range of formal and actual standards of ISO/TC 211 in 1999 to 2002 “Geographic Information Metadata” was released in 2003.
Until then, some countries, agencies, and communities of practice take part in re-casting the preceding metadata standards. They used such metadata standards as profiles and made them as subsets of ISO 19115.
The development of geospatial metadata has continued to grow and become popular on the Web during the 1990s. More geospatial features were created along with the Semantic Web in 2000s. Ontologies for semantic geospatial metadata became part of such advancement in the history of geospatial metadata.