The ambulances for the Village of Wheeling Fire Department can take patients to approximately 30 hospitals in the Chicago-land area. Because some of the hospitals are frequented less and are many miles outside the Village limits, each ambulance contains a book of maps detailing the location of each hospital. The maps are simple location maps made from data over 10 years old. The Fire Department requested that the maps be modified and updated to reflect current data.
A new map book was created with each page of the book representing a different hospital. The street data was updated and the page was divided into two separate maps: a large map showing the location of the hospital and a smaller map showing its location in relation to the surrounding communities. By having the maps in each ambulance, the paramedics are able to easily locate hospitals that they are not familiar with, and make sure they arrive at their destination.
Electricity provider ComEd has come under intense fire throughout the North Shore for its management of multiple lengthy power outages. Many communities have been overwhelmed by complaints from residents who are not getting the level of service that they want. In turn, numerous municipalities have met with their local ComEd representatives to ask pointed questions about how service interruptions can be minimized as well as better managed.
Glencoe decided to leverage the power of GIS to explore the data provided in ComEd’s annual reports. By symbolizing the approximate locations of all 15 circuits according to the number and length of outages, GIS provided a striking illustration of problem areas within the Village limits. In the map shown, dark-shaded areas experienced a high number of power outages, and areas with large red circles experienced the longest outage times. (Please note: the circuit identification numbers have been obscured for proprietary reasons.) GIS was also used to generate a circuit-by-circuit analysis of the outage causes, ranging from equipment failures to tree-related damage to planned service outages for maintenance work. This information will be shared with ComEd engineers to prioritize areas in need of immediate attention.
Without GIS, Glencoe officials would have a much harder time making a compelling case for ComEd to prioritize its time and invest its resources in this area. This data gives them the ability to point out specific areas for improvement so that residents get the help and support that they need.
When a major traffic accident occurs within DuPage County, an accident task force called MCRT (Major Accident Reconstruction Team) comprised of officers from many different departments throughout the area is sent to the scene of the accident to do an investigation and write an accident report. The final report consists of different criteria including a written portion which describes the events that took place during the accident. And a visual portion which is a drawing at a scale of 1 to 10 feet that displays things such as: distance traveled, impact zones, and the final resting spot, among other things.
Given the odd nature of this accident, which involved a vehicle traveling off the road at high rate of speed, and going thru a creek and into a tree. A detective from the Oak Brook Police Department requested the assistance of GIS in displaying the vehicles final resting position. His goal was to take the image drawn by the MCRT team and lay it over high resolution aerial imagery in an effort to display the actual location of the final resting spot. Using GIS was a perfect solution for the final product they were seeking because of GIS’ ability to georeference images to a chosen scale. By taking known geographic points within their initial accident sketch, the GIS specialist was able to match the sketch to real locations found in the imagery. The image shown displays the final resting position of the vehicle, drawn by MCRT staff, laid over aerial imagery while maintaining the scale of 1 inch equals 10 feet. This new image can now be used in court while describing the events that took place during the accident.
One of the hardest and maybe the most important things a local government can do is to ensure that the public is made aware of what is happening internally. For transparency ultimately brings more understanding on why decisions are made and how those decisions are going to be carried out.
For the City of Park Ridge, IL, transparency comes in the form of newsletters, website postings and published council meeting videos. On top of all this there is also the occasional public meeting set up to address a specific matter. As of late, there have been multiple storms that have left certain neighborhoods in disarray and have had the residents of these neighborhoods asking specific questions about flooding. For these special cases the City will sometimes call for a public meeting to be held between certain City staff members and residents of the affected neighborhood with the purpose focused on education.
Most recently the City’s Engineering Department hosted a public meeting with the residents of one north side neighborhood to brief them on the way the City’s sewer system works as well as how the topography of the land can affect where water may flow in times of heavy rain. General descriptions are always good but the Engineering Department felt that having maps to aid those in their discussion would prove more beneficial when trying to educate these residents on a topic they knew little about. For this request the City used their Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Department to construct specific maps showing where water goes within the sewer utility system as well as what water may do given the lay of the land in that specific neighborhood. Based on the response from the meeting, it turns out that these maps were very helpful in making a tough topic more understandable as well as demonstrating to the public that the City is persistent in maintaining a transparent atmosphere.
During the cleanup from damage caused by emergency events, such as severe storms or flooding, there are often numerous issues that a local government needs to deal with in order to successfully recover. After a recent storm that occurred on July 23rd, 2011, the Village of Winnetka, IL was hit hard by residential flooding and other water related problems. This forced the village’s Water and Electric Department to take an inventory of all properties in the village with electric meters installed in basements to help identify areas where restoring power service might be difficult in the future if that same property floods.
Using an existing database containing all the basement electric meter addresses, and a list of flooded properties collected during the July 23rd storm event, the village GIS (Geographic Information Systems) Department was able to map out the locations of each meter and spatially compare that to the flooded property locations. Doing this helped to identify where homes with both basement electric meters and potential flooding issues were located, allow the Water and Electric Department to assess the potential risk for these meters being inaccessible during a similar storm event.
Without GIS, analysis would have been very time consuming and would have required significant man-hours to complete. Comparing the flooding and electric meter locations spatially allowed for a quick and efficient analysis of the data, which provided the Water and Electric Department with an easy-to-use tool for assessing future risk.
The Village of Skokie started maintaining street signs over 30 years ago. Over time, the inventory evolved from strictly paper/mylar based to eventually incorporate an Excel spreadsheet with ID’s of signs on the paper maps. While this has worked in the past, current technology provides a much better solution for managing the Village’s signs. By using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the Village can utilize a technology that is already used throughout the enterprise. This is especially helpful considering the Federal government has set dates for compliance for three (3) major traffic sign maintenance requirements. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires the following:
January 2012 All agencies will have to establish and implement a sign maintenance program that addresses the minimum sign retroreflectivity requirements
January 2015 All agencies must comply with the new retroreflectivity requirements for most of their traffic signs they have installed, including all red and white or white and black “regulatory” signs (such as STOP signs and Speed Limit signs), yellow and black “warning” signs, and ground-mounted green and white “guide” signs (except street name signs)
January 2018 All agencies must comply with the new retroreflectivity requirements for overhead guide signs and all street name signs
Source: U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration
In order to meet the requirement for January 2012, the Village began conducting a sign inventory in August, 2011. Once the inventory is complete, the Village will maintain the data using GIS and will publish the data internally for planning, analysis, and maintenance purposes.
Local governments often get requests from residents for localized public improvements that fall outside the scope of yearly budgeted projects the community has planned for. To help fund these localized improvement requests, the property owners can become part of a Special Service Area (SSA), which is a legal mechanism used to fund projects for contiguous residential properties through a local property tax levy. Through a Special Service Area, the property owner pays back the community for the project work over a predetermined amount of time through an additional fee on their yearly property tax bill. To help track these areas, the City of Des Plaines IL asked the city’s GIS (Geographic Information System) Department to locate each SSA so maps could be quickly generated showing the improvement areas.
Using a list of active and proposed SSAs provided by the city’s Engineering Department, the GIS Department was able to locate and map each area using the city’s existing parcel and address data. With this information added to the GIS system, maps of specific SSAs can be generated and included in things such as city council packets and departmental reports for reference. Also, since payment for these improvements is based on property taxes, having the parcel data linked to the SSA integrates the county PIN (Property Identification Number) with the SSA designation, allowing the city Finance Department to accurately track all SSA related fees.
Using GIS to assist with tracking Special Service Areas provides a quick, easy-to-understand reference tool for multiple departments that can be applied to numerous applications.
Every year the City contracts with Ayres Associates to update a portion of their base mapping. This is an important part of the process to ensure base mapping reflects real world conditions. An easy way to identify update areas is to look at the when areas were last updated and select the lowest year. This method will select areas of older data but does not necessarily select the areas of greatest change. For example business districts have a higher rate of demolition and new constriction, than do established residential neighborhoods.
The City determined it was more valuable to remap areas of greater change as opposed to areas of older data. For example, it does not really matter if data in a Golf Course area is older because Golf Courses do not change much over time. To determine the areas of greatest change, the GIS Office retrieved permit data from the Tyler Eden application. Permits data related to demolition, new construction, or alterations to existing features were mapped.
The city used the groupings of these permit locations to determine which areas of older mapping areas should be updated. It became obvious that several areas of the 2005 mapping area, should be updated in t he 2011 update cycle. Thus the City will maximize the value of it’s update mapping by ensuring the areas with the most changes are being updated.