A developing problem spread among many communities in the greater Chicago area is the rapid growth of the Emerald Ash Borer, which is an insect that adversely affects the health of ash trees. Oak Brook has recently began locating and tracking all ash trees in the village owned public parkways, and noting any trees that are currently affected by the outbreak. It is important to not only know which trees are infected, but also to know where all non-infected trees are located so that mitigation can begin immediately. The village has a plan to completely replace all ash trees within the next 10 years, beginning with the trees that are currently in the worse condition. It is important to track and maintain the ash trees because subdivisions with a high density of ash trees could face mass amounts of landscape change in a very short period of time, which could leave the esthetics of the subdivision less than pleasing.
The image shown is of the ash tree locations within the Saddle Brook neighborhood, which has a very high density of ash trees in the public parkway. An inventory of trees was done by public works employees and the results were returned in order to track and analyze the data using GIS. Currently we are tracking ash trees, infected ash trees, and ash trees that have been replaced in the past few years. By using GIS we will be able to track high priority areas, plan for future mitigation and keep track of the areas and work that has already been implemented.
Many communities often use GIS in one way or another to help plan out events, whether it is as simple as a basic street map or as detailed as a full site plan for a community’s annual taste event. In June, the City of Lake Forest came upon a unique opportunity and GIS was able to help.
Home to a number of golf courses, the City has begun examining the feasibility of hosting the PGA Tour, specifically at the Conway Farms Golf Course. The GIS Staff created numerous maps for Public Works and City Hall that showed zoning, surrounding communities and buffer zones, all of which were overlaying aerial images. The primary purpose for these was to locate areas of interest around the golf course that could provide parking and transportation for attendees. Further analysis is expected once city staff review their options, but initial review shows that the golf course has good surrounding features to accommodate the event.
Having a visual aid is always helpful when planning an event, especially when you can call out specific features that help with decision making. Though it can look simple at first glance, aerial imagery with GIS overlays always proves to be very beneficial to communities that are working to find the best opportunities solutions and for their events.
Besides the flood issues introduced because of the proximity to the Des Plaines River through and along the Village of Riverside’s Western and Southern boundaries, some reoccurring residential drainage issues have been identified. The Village has contracted to have drainage studies performed in these areas hoping to realize some solutions through infrastructure and/or grading changes. Through existing data sharing agreements with Cook County via its Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program, Riverside was able to provide contour and Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) elevation data to the engineering consultant. Using the GIS to prepare the elevation data for the areas of issue allowed the studies to advance quickly as compared to the alternative of field data collection.
Summer provides the public with a wealth of opportunities to explore their neighboring communities. Festivals, races, sidewalk sales and parades are as abundant as the warm sunshine. While these special events offer the chance to relax and have fun, they also create a lot of work for those who are charged with managing them. Fortunately, GIS provides staff members with an efficient way to track spatial data and customize it to meet the needs of multiple departments. As an example, the Village of Glencoe recently put GIS to use in its planning process for the Fourth of July parade. The Village Manager’s office requested an easy-to-understand map of the parade route to distribute to the participants. The GIS specialist also added it to MapOffice™ Advanced, which made the parade route available to any member of the Village staff. As shown in the snapshot, MapOffice™ Advanced allows users to view the parade route on a map or an aerial photo, depending upon their needs. When a Public Safety supervisor saw the map, he was inspired to request another special event map. This one displayed both courses and all of the stations in the Glencoe Grand Prix bike race. Since the parade route map met the size and design specifications of Public Safety, the GIS specialist was able to quickly meet this new request by switching out the necessary information. Finally, the Glencoe Grand Prix plan was added into MapOffice™ Advanced so that Dispatch had a visual reference to enhance its ability to communicate with people in the field. Without GIS, the time and resources needed to create each of these custom maps would have been cost-prohibitive.
The City of Highland Park hosts many events from the running races to hosting craft fairs. These events bring many visitors into the community. These visitors will spend money at local businesses and help maintain the local economy. The City relies on GIS to provided detailed maps that allow City Staff to evaluate proposed conditions and make appropriate changes before the event.
Support from GIS can be as basic as displaying the starting area, race route, water station, and ending area for a race event. However, craft fairs and Taste of Highland Park events usually require more complex maps, which show numbered booths, barricades streets, traffic flow, and other detailed information required to plan the event. The GIS support occurs into two to three stages. The first stage is a request for a map or an update to an existing map. The next two to three steps involve review the changes and requesting updates to reflect current concerns. Another advantage of GIS is that the map projects are stored digitally and can be updated annually with a minimal amount of work. Without GIS the maps would have to be recreated each year or updates would be drawn on an older copy of the event map and sent to a graphic designer for updates. In a worst case scenario the City would have to rely on an event map provided by the organizer of the event.
The City leverages GIS to create accurate maps in an efficient manner. Thus the City can ensure events are run safely. City Staff can also quickly make updates to an event map without having to recreate the map.
It often seems that when crimes happen we seem to hear about them on the news. On the contrary, many crimes are reported that don’t attract high media attention. Which ever happens, it is extremely important that the Police Department is aware of the crime and that the activity is recorded for future analytical purposes. After these crimes are recorded what types of analytical operations take place? Are these crimes reviewed individually or compared to others in a group? Does geography play a factor?
The Police Department for the City of Park Ridge, Illinois thought that geography may have been a factor in some of their most recent burglary reports but they needed an easy way to review this information. For this portion of their analysis they decided to take advantage of the resources within the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Department to help map out the addresses of all the recent burglary activity within the city limits. A list of all burglary location addresses for a month long period was submitted to the GIS Department and then mapped out using the software tools found in application that GIS uses. Not only was the result quick in also displayed that there may be a trend in the type of burglaries because the incidents did indeed occur close in geographic proximity. Once the map was completed it was then published to a PDF so that it could be sent to the appropriate personnel in the Police Department (i.e. detectives) for review and potential field use.
A map that once took an hour to complete manually, now only took fifteen minutes. Additionally, the map was easily distributable which saved time in the long run and made the overall process more efficient.
On June 21st, 2011 a major storm hit the Chicago land area causing severe damage to trees, cars and homes. Winds speeds were measured near 80 mph, two F1 tornadoes were reported and thousands of people were left without out power. Many of the small municipalities in the area were left with no other options but to put their Public Works Department crews out on the streets to start the cleanup process.
Considering much of the time during this period was spent on the cleanup, it became hard for any local municipality to reflect on the catastrophic event and how much damage occurred overall. In Morton Grove, IL the Engineering Department decided to run a pilot program to track what they could of the storm’s damage and then store the data gathered in the field within their Geographical Information System (GIS). The purpose of this pilot was to see how easy or hard it would be to collect this information in the field and then map out in a format that would be easy to use by others within the Village staff.
The process was actually quite simple and consisted of the Village Engineer driving through areas that were reported as bad and recording these major damaged locations on a paper map as well as taking photographs of each site. Once back in the office, the map and photos were submitted to the GIS Department to be converted into digital data with hyperlinks to the photos that were stored on a central server. Information that may once be forgotten is now stored in the GIS and can be distributed to several users at one time. Additionally, this information can now be used in comparison with future storm events making it an excellent resource for analysis.
The Village of Lincolnshire recently finished its application renewal documentation for the FEMA Community Rating System (CRS). When municipalities analyze their land use within the floodplain and submit their findings, they are rewarded on a sliding point scale that translates into discounted flood insurance rates for their residents. Lincolnshire originally submitted a flood plain assessment in 2001 and is currently a Class 5 community.
Because GIS was used in prior submissions, the Village was able to quickly rerun the land use calculations using the most current flood plain data. Since the baseline work was done quickly, the GIS specialist had time to create two new maps that will strengthen the Village’s submission. These maps focused on the North Branch of the Chicago River and Indian Creek basins within the present and future Village limits. Additionally, each map displayed the land use statistics for the watershed depicted so that the reviewers could easily find the data that they need.
Without GIS, the CRS application process would require much more staff time. By reducing the initial workload by using past applications as a starting point, Lincolnshire was able to devote free time to creating new documentation to beef up its application. Undoubtedly, Village residents are happy to have more money in their pockets as the economy continues to fluctuate.
As the old joke goes, “There are only two seasons here: winter and construction.” As Chicagoland moves into construction season, local governments are tasked with rerouting traffic flow to make room for much needed repairs. In the Village of Glencoe, one project includes a complete overhaul of the commuter parking lots around the Metra station. This multi-week project requires Public Works staff to close different lots on different days, which disrupts the normal flow of commuter traffic.
With GIS, the Village was able to quickly create a map of the work site and include it on a poster to notify commuters well in advance of the project’s start. Once work actually began, GIS was able to quickly create maps of alternate parking sites so that commuters who missed the initial notification could find alternate parking places quickly. These maps were posted at the Metra station as well as online, providing multiple sources of information to the public in an efficient manner. Without GIS, Village staff would have to either rely on verbal explanations or create hand-drawn maps that were less accurate and showed fewer details to orient viewers.
Elk Grove Village Public Works recently initiated an inventory project for village owned trees, generally being all trees located within medians and parkways. Using their GPS equipment and seasonal labor the trees are located and their condition, size, and other useful information related to management of the trees are documented. The village GIS (Geographic Information System) is being used to process the GPS data, track the data collection progress, and evaluate the amount and location of trees in poor condition. The initial goal is to replace ash trees in poor condition with other, healthy trees of another species. Having an inventory of the ash trees will allow for rapid and effective management of Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive species, if discovered in the village. Other objectives that will derive from this information are removing stumps, replacing trees in poor condition, placement of new plantings, and realizing areas that may require more frequent trimming due to the proximity of power lines.
Every year, The Village of Wheeling finance department receives tax information from the State. This information includes the amount of money the village received from sales tax and which companies provided it. In previous years, the finance department would look over the data and try to find any discrepancies in the data and see if they were missing sales tax from companies in the Village. They would typically do this by comparing the sales tax information with the business license data by hand. This year, the Village wanted to do a more thorough check and one that wasn’t as time consuming, so they decided to compare the two tables by using GIS.
Because both the sales tax information and the business license tables contained address information, the data was easily mapped using the Village’s address database. With both tables mapped, checks were run to determine which business license records did not have a sales tax record, and which sales tax records did not match any existing business license. This process would help find any businesses that Wheeling did not receive sales tax from and additionally businesses that did not have an existing business license.
The finance department received full lists of businesses within the Village that they did not receive sales tax from and businesses that were listed in the sales tax table that did not have a business license. There are many possible reasons why both situations exist, but by having a list the finance department was able to go to the state and figure out each record discrepancy. By using GIS, the finance department was able to expand on an already existing project and save some time in the process.
The City of Des Plaines hosts numerous special events throughout the year. These events often require the involvement and coordination of numerous city departments, including Public Works, Engineering, and the Public Relations office. To help improve these coordination efforts, the GIS (Geographic Information Systems) department developed a map product to allow all those involved to communicate event information more efficiently.
The map developed for this bike tour highlights the tour route and other aspects of the ride, as well as points of interest the riders can stop and look at along way. Information about the event itself, for example ride distance and start time, was also included on the map to supply both the city departments organizing the ride and those participating in the ride with a single resource for reference. Using a spatial product to convey the bike tour information provides everyone with the same, geographically-based reference template, making it easier and more efficient to transfer information before and during the event.
The Briergate Crossroads Business District is an important commercial center on the west side of Highland Park. It is locate along Deerfield, Old Skokie Rd, and Old Deerfield Rd just west of Skokie Valley Rd. It also contains a variety of other retail establishments such as a grocery store, a toy store, and numerous services orientated businesses.
Over the last six months, the City of Highland Park Office of Economic Development along with the Business and Economic Development Commission reviewed the Briergate Crossroads Business District to identify issues that should be corrected to improve the economic vitality of the district. The first step was reviewing the existing conditions within the district. The first part of the process was requesting maps from the GIS Department which showed the location street lights, signs, ownership of right-of-ways, and ownership of properties. The second part was gathering information from the business owners. Several complaints were indentified and confirmed by reviewing the map.
One of the issues was that lacks of lighting which creates numerous security issues. Another issue is that the district not clearly visible from US 41 and a confusing ramp configuration makes it difficult to access the district. The Office of Economic Development requested that the GIS Office create three new maps showing proposed updates to solve these issues. The first map shows proposed street light locations along streets. The second map shows new signs which will point out the ramps used to access the district and assist drivers with navigating the ramp configuration. The third map shows areas where IDOT will be requested to clear brush to make the district more visible from 41. Using these maps, the committee can show how proposed changes will benefit the business district.
Retention Ponds are basins that catch runoff from higher elevations. These ponds have water in them year round and are often located near development areas. Public works tracks these ponds along with the restrictors and outfalls contained in them.
The Village of Glenview’s Public Works currently only had the location of these retention ponds on As-Builts. GIS was able to assist in the project to show the locations of these retention ponds on one map. This allows for an easier and faster way to find the retention ponds. Public Works will also be utilizing these locations on a series of map books to be used in the field.
Every year the Cook County Assessor’s office sends out data to communities showing what the Equalized Assessed Valuation (EAV) is of every parcel within their boundaries. The Village of Lincolnwood uses this data for two purposes – owner name and economic development. Both of these uses are extremely valuable to the Village. Since the data has a geographical reference, a Property Index Number or PIN, the Village can use its Geographic Information System (GIS) to harvest, analyze and create products. Lincolnwood depends on County data as a base for much of its GIS features. It is very important to work together with the County since we share infrastructure and geography.
Using the data provided by Cook County, Lincolnwood was able to incorporate it into MapOffice™ Advanced, a specialized interactive mapping application for all GIS Consortium members. By linking the Cook County tabular data with Lincolnwood’s parcel data, they were able to publish the owner’s name, EAV, and taxes owed into MapOffice Advanced™. This simplifies the task of finding the owners name through a maze of County websites and provides internal staff answers about property value in regards to development.
The Skokie Park District in conjunction with the Village of Skokie hosts the Festival of Cultures. Over the years, it has become a premier ethnic festival in Illinois celebrating the food, music, and sports that define cultures throughout the world. This year will be the 21st for the festival. The Village of Skokie has a high presence during this festival and is working to promote downtown businesses during the event. The idea was to create a flyer to promote the Village’s downtown restaurants. To do this, the Village Manager’s office worked with the Village’s Geographic Information System to gather data and create a map showing all restaurants in the downtown area. The Village will be passing these out at their booth during the festival.
The Village of Wheeling is currently preparing for the National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System (CRS) review. The review takes into account various aspects of flood prevention infrastructure in the village and ultimately decides the percentage of savings a resident receives for flood insurance. One of the important aspects of the review is a village’s maintenance of a network of surveying benchmarks. By having a system of maintained benchmarks, surveyors are able to locate them and depend on their accuracy, while the village receives a higher score.
For the village to receive credit for Benchmark Maintenance, it must meet a list of requirements: It must be in the National Spatial Reference System (NSRS) database or be a permanent monument with key data readily available to surveyors, such as the village website. There must be a note that it’s been recovered in the past 5 years and it must be a first or second order vertical control benchmark. Finally, each benchmark but have a stability rating of A or B and be within 1 mile of the community’s regulatory floodplain. In addition to the benchmarks meeting these requirements, proper documentation is needed, which includes a map showing the location of each benchmark.
By creating the map documentation for benchmark maintenance in GIS, the village was able to satisfy multiple requirements with one product. A series of small maps were created, each representing one of the benchmarks in the village. In addition, a large overview map was created showing the location of each benchmark at a large scale. The overview map was added to the village website, and when a surveyor clicks on a benchmark on the map, a PDF opens up with the smaller map representing the information for that specific benchmark. By having this map located on the village website, it meets the requirements of having it accessible to surveyors and the public as well as being a document of each benchmark’s location. By using GIS, the engineering department was able to create a product that met CRS requirements and was accessible to the public.
When developers are making plans for a new construction project, they may opt to install the utilities they need and then sell the completed system to the local government for general public use and maintenance. This arrangement, known as a recapture agreement, allows the developer to handle the utility installation process instead of taking up resources in the local Public Works department. The local municipality agrees to buy the completed system from the developer according to an agreed-upon fee schedule. This schedule has to be approved by the local board and created into an ordinance to officially approve the use of public funds.
As of 2011, the Village of Lincolnshire has 15 active recapture areas. This impacts daily operations because these agreements have to be referenced any time the Village receives a building permit application. If someone applies to do work in a recapture area, he or she may be responsible for paying an access fee to the developer to use the utility system. By creating a map of recapture areas, Public Works administrators can quickly check a permit application’s location to determine whether or not it falls into a recapture area. If it does, the applicant will be notified of any corresponding financial responsibilities.
Lincolnshire’s recapture map is currently being used in print form, but will soon be available in MapOffice™ Advanced as a custom overlay. This will allow Village staff to search electronically for an address and determine immediately whether it falls into a recapture area. Thanks to this application of GIS technology, the Village is saving time and money by completing a once labor-intensive process in a matter of seconds.
Each year, communities flush their fire hydrants and take note of flow rate, time flushed, and condition of hydrants. For 2011, the City of Lake Forest used GIS to aid in visualizing the locations of hydrants that were found to be in need to attention.
Notes from field work were grouped into subcategories to keep repair types to a manageable amount. From here, special symbology was given to each category to make it stand out from the other hydrants that were displayed on the map. The map was then divided into sections so it could be printed out at a readable scale on 8.5 x 11 paper, and when combined, formed a book that could be used in the field.
Having a visual aid to go with normal maintenance should prove to save time in locating the hydrants and planning of what kind of repairs will be needed. In addition to this, both the water and fire departments can see areas of concern where numerous hydrants may not be functioning properly, which can cause delays in the event that a fire needs to be put out in that area.
Part of the tradition within the United States every year is the celebration of the Fourth of July; many people choose to celebrate this event in their own way. Some may host a party or a picnic while at the local government level it may be a festival or a fireworks display for their residents to attend. Morton Grove has previously used Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to help them map out and plan for such events. This year like previous ones, they have once again taken advantage of the technology to assist them in planning for the July 4th parade.
Because a parade is such a large event that affects traffic flow and public parking, it is important to have a good information source accessible to all departments involved in the planning of this event. For the Public Works Department it is matter of where the barricades and bathrooms are supposed to be located, for the Police Department its monitoring on-street parking so that the streets remain clear as well as managing vehicle traffic so that the parade remains a safe environment. To assure efficient operations a simple map for both of these departments to use as a reference during the event is provided. The more people referring to one resource for their answers the less chance that mistakes will occur and good decisions are made.
Most local governments have a council of elected community residents that help manage and vote on the policies that govern how the community operates. For the Village of Winnetka, as with any government, there is regular turnover in who is elected to sit on the acting council. After a recent election, village staff decided to use maps to help explain the operational role of each department to the new council members.
The Village GIS (Geographic Information System) department was asked to create these maps, which included a water main diameter size map, a public works facilities map, and an electric circuit map, as a tool to visually highlight the extent of individual department operations. The maps were shown to the new trustees during a tour they received of the Village facilities and helped to enhance their understanding of the services each department is responsible for managing. Having more knowledge of the services provided by the Village staff can lead to better, more informed decisions by the council in the future on the best policies to effectively manage village operations.