Geospatial Data Discovery at UMN

Kevin Dyke, University of Minnesota Libraries

Finding secondary data (data produced by someone else) is a major component of many projects involving spatial analysis or cartography


water bodies


Gulf stream

NASA Scientific Visualization Studio

For the state of Minnesota, we've tried to make things easier.

When finding data, the most important factor is metadata

What is (geo)metadata?


  • In most ways, it’s the same as any other sort of metadata.
  • Except with the additional question: “Where on earth is this?”

To accomodate increased complexity of data (where it lives, how users interact with it), the metadata standards we use for geometdata have become more complicated.

Dublin Core


ISO 19115/19139

Flexibility. Always sounds good, but makes coordination of efforts difficult. (more on that later)

Meanwhile, in Minnesota

Minnesota Geospatial Commons

  • Launched in 2015
  • Metadata requirements

Data Respository
for the
University of Minnesota

Spatial Data @ University of Minnesota


Includes everything in the Minnesota Geospatial Commons

But wait, there's more!

Also includes county and municipal sources of data that aren't yet part of the Geospatial Commons

Layers can also be previewed (when available from data provider)

Behind the scenes

sort of

Metadata management using GitHub

Collaboration in the CIC


  • Started - July 2015
  • Participating institutions: Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota (host), Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin


project goals

  • Data discovery portal
  • Geometadata creation/transformation/remediation
  • Reusable tools and workflows

Current Efforts

State clearinghouse geometadata collection

Collaborative Geometadata Editing and Workflows

Discovery platform testing

Digitized maps on the horizon


Wrapping up

I can help with things!

  • Spatial data management planning
  • Metadata creation
  • Project prototyping

Get in touch