Metadata standard

The Metadata Standard helps users search, find, and understand published data.

DataSF hosts datasets for public use and dissemination. These datasets include metadata (i.e. data about our data), which helps users search, find and understand our published data. Metadata can also help summarize and track our data publications via basic metrics (e.g. datasets published by department). Our current metadata elements are essentially “out of the box” and missing key elements and in some cases, controlled vocabulary.

Purpose and scope

The metadata standard was the result of a comprehensive survey of existing and best practices and the contributions of a working group. The COIT Architecture and Policy Subcommittee approved the standard. The table below summarizes the standard:


Basic Descriptive Information

Provide the core information to describe the dataset, including the source department. Each of these fields help our users discover and distinguish between datasets.

  • Dataset title
  • Description
  • Category
  • Department

Detailed Descriptive Information

Support informed use of the data. They allow users to assess the appropriateness of the dataset for their needs (including data coverage, size, and other details), address common questions or misconceptions, and provide a means of conveying additional detail.

  • Data dictionary
  • Row count
  • Geographic unit
  • Temporal coverage
  • Tags
  • Program link
  • Data notes
  • Related documents

Publishing Details

Allow users to understand what to expect in terms of how often the data is updated and its relative "freshness". This informs how the data can be used and helps users assess if it is appropriate for their desired use.

  • Last updated
  • Frequency of data change
  • Frequency of data publishing
  • License and rights

Web & Technical Information

Provide web and technical details that support web or application access to the dataset. These fields are heavily used by programmers and administrative users of the data platform.

  • Unique identifier
  • Permanent link
  • URL
  • Endpoint (for APIs)
  • Download URL
  • Format

Internal Management

Support internal management of datasets for publishing datasets and answering data questions. These metadata fields are private.

  • Public access level
  • Public access comment
  • Data steward name
  • Data steward email


Approved October 16, 2014


COIT Metadata Standard - download full policy document