Data Standards

The Pennsylvania Geospatial Data Sharing Standards (PGDSS) are simple and consistent descriptions of the common or widely used content and structure of each layer. It is the bare minimum needed for exchange. PGDSS are designed to facilitate data sharing among all levels of data producers and users. They reflect the fact that many entities have complex and ongoing programs with diverse data structures and processes, developed independently, making data sharing difficult. Standards were developed for data sets that give spatial context to any other information:

  • Roads
  • Imagery
  • Governmental Units
  • Addresses
  • Geodetic Control
  • Parcels
  • Hydrography
  • Elevation
  • Place Names
  • Buildings


As you might imagine, the production of PGDSS has been ongoing since about the year 2000 in one form or another. As such, the documents provide some detail and context on geospatial development progress in PA generally, and the forwards and appendices of each version provide specifics.
The first products created were “Best Practices Manuals” developed by small teams meeting in-person and monthly during 1999 and 2000; this was way before the age of simple on-line meetings.

Those Manuals led to PGDSS Version 1.0 in October 2004, which was logical prerequisite to the PAMAP Program which completed its pilot phase around the same time.
PGDSS Version 2.0 followed quickly in 2005 and enjoyed broad support and enthusiastic efforts of Subject Mater Experts.
The final efforts yielded PGDSS Version 2.5 in 2007; they are more uniform in presentation, are based on the labors of Subject Matter Teams, have extensive information on background, and include a simple database built upon the standard.

The development of PGDSS complemented at least three other initiatives in the Commonwealth:
The PA GIS Consortium project for “Federated GIS” demonstrated the real-time compilation of data for decision-making regionally, as well as developing robust data redundancy. The standards known as GIS for the Nation provided the basis for data transformation and consolidation in this project.
The PAMAP Program executed a Vector Data Requirements Pilot to validate the data requirements of a modern digital basemap for Pennsylvania.
State agency data was consolidated within a Geospatial Enterprise Server Architecture that simplified access to shareable data.


Standards Documents

PGDSS Version 2.5, May 2007

PGDSS Version 2.0, August 2005

PGDSS Version 1.0, October 2004