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Understanding Data

About Datasets

Most of the content held in SEED is in the form of datasets

What is a dataset?

For general usage, dataset is another way of saying 'data' or 'environmental information'. It refers to a collection of information organised in a particular format. For example, a dataset may be:
•    a table with rows and columns, such as readings from dust or water quality monitoring stations
•    a report, such as an Environmental Impact Statement
•    an image file, such as photographs or maps
•    a geospatial file, containing data associated with locations, which means it can be viewed on a map.

How do I view a dataset?

To view an individual dataset, select the title of the dataset to open the Dataset View page:

1. How do I view a dataset 2.PNG (

Understanding the data

The following information resources are provided for every dataset in SEED:

Description The dataset description is published in SEED exactly as provided by the person(s) who collected the data, to maintain consistency with other sites and publications.
Data Quality Statement The Data Quality Statement describes the key characteristics of the data so that potential users can make informed decisions about fitness for use
Metadata Statement The Metadata Statement contains information that describes the dataset, such as when and how it was created. It includes information such as the custodian (manager) of the data, keywords (related subjects), extent (the geographical area covered by the data) and any limitations on how it is to be used. The Metadata may be provided in PDF (document) and/or XML (web code) format

Viewing the data

Resources for viewing the data can be found under various expandable headings underneath a dataset’s description. To display the resources, click on the ‘expand’ icon next to the relevant heading.

Similar resource formats are grouped together under the same heading. For example, resources in spreadsheet or zip formats will appear under the heading “Dataset Packages.  The headings that display will vary from dataset to dataset, depending on what has been provided by the data custodian.

Dataset Resource Headings

Expandable Headings

Related Datasets

If the dataset is ‘related’ to other SEED dataset(s), eg if it is a subset of a larger parent dataset, “Related Datasets” will appear as the first heading. Expanding this heading will return an interactive list of related datasets (parent, children, siblings).

Data Quality Statement

Most data in SEED is provided with a Data Quality Statement, which provides a description of the characteristics of the data to help the user decide whether the data will be fit for the user’s specific purpose. See





  • CSV

‘Comma separated values’ is a simple file format used to store tabular data. This can be opened in excel or added to a spatial software program to create features.

Dataset Packages

  • Email

Data broker contact email to request datasets


  • GeoTIFF

Is a standard format that is used as an interchange for georeferenced raster (grid) imagery.


  • JPEG

Compressed image file that can be added to spatial software programs as a raster.


  • LYR

A layer file can be downloaded and added to a spatial viewer (ArcGIS, QGIS etc.). It is a means of preserving a defined symbology for a dataset but is not the actual data which you will need to link the source to.


  • MBTiles

A file format for storing tilesets designed to package up many files (raster or vector) into a singular place.


  • SLD

SLD is a XML document used by GIS software. SLD files store information about maps, such as added layers, text, legend, images, drawings, etc.



Style files store information about how the data should look, it can be added to a spatial viewer such as ArcGIS and is shared to promote consistency in the symbology of data.


  • XLS

Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.


  • XLSX


  • ZIP

A ZIP file typically contains one or more files or directories that have been compressed. For example,
a Shapefile
is an ESRI vector data format for storing/viewing the geographic location and associated attribute information of points, lines and polygons. It comprises related files usually downloaded from SEED in a .zip package. Shapefiles can be viewed in ArcGIS, MapInfo and QGIS (requires specialist software; for a free read-only version see Software Resources).

Dataset Web Services

  • ArcGIS Rest Service


An ArcGIS Web Service represents a GIS resource (e.g. a map) that is located on an ArcGIS Server site and is made available to client applications. Requires specialist software. For a free read-only version see Software Resources.


  • JSON

A JSON file is a file that stores simple data structures and objects in JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) format. It is primarily used for transmitting data between a web application and a server. JSON files can be opened in your browser.


  • GeoJSON

Is a format for encoding a variety of geographic data features and their non-spatial attributes. GeoJSON files can be opened in various spatial software.


  • KML

Keyhole Markup language’. A service which allows you to view the data in Google Earth, click on the resource to open it in Google Earth if you have it installed.


  • KMZ

‘Keyhole Markup language Zipped’ files are zipped versions of KML files used in Google Earth.


  • WFS
  • WMS
  • WMTS

‘Web Feature Service, Web Map Service, Web Map Tile Service’. These are mediums for sending geospatial data across the Web. WFS provides the detailed information about the features you see on the SEED map, whereas WMS provides the visual aspects. Requires specialist software; for a free read-only version see Software Resources.


Map Viewer

  • SEED Web Map

A link to view the data spatially on the SEED map.

If the dataset is viewable on the SEED Map, it will be identified by:
- a ‘Show on SEED Web Map’ link under the ‘Map Viewer’ heading, and
- a ‘Show on SEED Map’ button on the right-hand side of the dataset page.


  • Spatial Viewer

A link to view the data spatially on an external (non-SEED) viewer. This link will take you out of SEED.


  • DOC

Microsoft word document.


  • DOCX


  • PDF

Data Quality Statements and some metadata statements are in PDF format; other resources that are in PDF format will appear under ‘Documents’


  • TXT

Text files store information in unformatted text and can be opened in text editors (such as notepad) or used in spatial software to create tables.


  • XML

(Extensible Markup Language.) For some datasets, the Metadata Statement is also available in XML web format. This format is usually more useful for technical users

External Links

  • HTML
  • RSS
  • URL

Many datasets have additional resources held on the website of the organisation that owns the data. If applicable, they will be listed under the ‘External Links’ heading.