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The National Geospatial Data Clearinghouse (NGDC) was established by Executive Order 12906 in 1994. It is a means of publishing descriptions of geospatial data from a variety of governmental and non-governmental sources, helping users determine their fitness for use, and providing tools to access, visualize, or order data as efficiently as possible.

The Clearinghouse is a distributed, electronically connected network of geospatial data producers, managers and users. It is neither a central repository where data sets are stored nor a set of web sites referencing spatial data. It is a federated system of compatible geospatial data catalogs that can be searched through a common interface — the portal.

Government, academic, commercial, and non-profit organizations make information about spatial resources, called metadata, available on the Internet in support of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). These metadata may describe data sets, maps, documents, or Web services that contain reference to locations on the Earth.


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