What is geospatial data?

Geospatial data is information that identifies the geographic location and characteristics of natural or constructed features and boundaries on the earth, typically represented by points, lines, polygons, and/or complex geographic features. This includes original and interpreted geospatial data, such as those derived through remote sensing including, but not limited to, images and raster data sets, aerial photographs, and other forms of geospatial data or data sets in both digitized and non-digitized forms. [Source: FAA's National Geospatial Data Policy, August 2005]

What are geospatial data records?

Geospatial data is a record if it is created or received in the course of doing FAA business, and it provides evidence of the Agency's actions, programs, operations and other activities. For example:

  • Maps used to examine development patterns and conduct scenarios for growth management and transportation planning
  • Locations of active and abandoned uranium mines to determine radiation risk to nearby population, wildlife and the environment
  • A model used to correlate children's population with toxicity risk
Who is responsible for managing geospatial data records?

The person creating or using the geospatial data records is responsible for ensuring the records are maintained in a recordkeeping system, and ultimately, destroyed or permanently transferred in accordance with the applicable records schedule.

How do I manage geospatial data records?

File a copy of geospatial data records in your recordkeeping system with the project or site records they support. For example, if the geospatial records support safety inspections at a site, they should be filed with the safety file.

Geospatial data records are often in special formats (e.g., oversized paper maps or data sets). Therefore, it is especially important to identify the geospatial data records with appropriate metadata, so the records can be easily accessed and retrieved with other, related records.

How long do I keep geospatial data records?

Retain geospatial data records in accordance with the applicable records schedule. For example, if a regional office is creating geospatial data records to identify public water systems and monitor water quality, the retention of the records is covered by the schedule for water quality planning and management files.

If the geospatial data records are designated as "permanent" in the records schedules, they are transferred to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) eventually. NARA has developed special transfer requirements for permanent geospatial data records from digital geographic information systems (GIS).

If the geospatial data records are designated as "temporary" in the records schedules, they must be destroyed in accordance with the requirements in the records schedules.

If you can't find a schedule for your geospatial data records, contact your Records Management Officer. It is possible that a new records schedule needs to be developed.

Where can I get additional guidance?

If you have questions about records, contact the Records Help Desk. You can find additional guidance in the following publications: