This article is from the Geographic Information Systems FAQ, by Lisa Nyman firstname.lastname@example.org with numerous contributions by others.
From: "Dan Henke" <email@example.com>
Spatial Data Transfer Standard (SDTS) is a standard which by definition is " a
document that specifies a set of rules". The SDTS provides a way of
the transfer of digital spatial data between dissimilar computer systems. It
also preserves the information meaning and minimizes the need for any external
information. This standard not only allows the transfer of spatial data,
attributes and georeferencing but also the data quality report, data dictionary
and any other associated metadata.
Promoting and facilitating the transfer of spatial data between dissimilar
computer systems provides users and producers of spatial data with a way to
gain access to a greater amount of otherwise inaccessable data. It also
promotes data exchange and data sharing, which in turn increase the quality and
the integrity of existing spatial data.
SDTS is designed to support all types of spatial data. A single translator that
could support all the different types and options of data is probably not
practical. It is much better to implement SDTS through the use of profiles. A
profile is a subset of SDTS which was created to transfer a specific type of
spatial data with as few SDTS options as possible. The Topological Vector
Profile (TVP) was the first developed and applies to geographic vector data
with planar graph topology. This profile will handle both USGS DLG-3 and DLG-F
data as well as the Census Bureau's TIGER data. The Raster Profile was
developed to accomodate image data, digital terrain models,gridded GIS layers,
and other gridded data. This profile will accomodate USGS DEM's and DOQ's.
SDTS was approved as Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) Publication
173 in 1992 after 12 years of development and testing and in 1994 became
mandatory for federal agencies. SDTS is available for use also by state and
local goverments, the private sector and research and academic organizations.
SDTS information including the Standard itself and much more is available via
More information on SDTS is also available by visiting the SDTS web page
You may also write :
SDTS Task Force
U. S. Geological Survey
1400 Independence Road
Rolla, MO. 65401
or Call 573/308-3543, FAX 573/308-3652
or e-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org