Information Resources and Technology Management


You are invited to read the definitions of terms used in this data standard.

Geospatial Data Exchange Format
Geospatial data is shared over the Internet with a variety of users.  The formats listed below are in wide use throughout the Service and external user community; they have been chosen to increase data sharing opportunities for Service data creators while acknowledging staffing and budgetary limits.

-  The ESRI Shapefile format is becoming very widely used; the code for creating shapefiles has been made available by ESRI on the Internet (see References).  This format is not as complete or robust as the other two, but is more universal and compact for sharing information.

-  The AutoCAD DWG file format has been in use for a number of years. CAD programs as well as many GIS programs can readily use this format, and it is often the originating format for cadastral (survey) information. 


Part 270, FW 6, Data Management and Standards, has been superceded by Part 274, FW 2, Establishing Service Data Standards.

Shapefile Documentation:  Technical documents explaining how to write the Shapefile format can be accessed in Adobe Acrobat format here.

DWG Documentation:  Specific information can be found at the Open Design Alliance site at

Use Instructions
Service offices should use at least one of these data formats whenever serving data on the Internet or when creating data that will be widely distributed (unless partners specifically ask for a different format). Sharing data in several formats will increase the access to the data for Service users and partners.
Approval Date
August 31, 1998
Validation Date
November 29, 2013
Data Steward
Chief Data Officer


Last updated: May 9, 2019