In October, the Village of Lincolnshire staff held a table-top discussion on its emergency management plan. To test how well everyone knew local procedures as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of the existing plan, selected supervisors were given a practice scenario and had to explain how they would respond. GIS was enlisted to assist with this by creating a map showing the extent of the damage from a hypothetical tornado strike. On the day of the drill, the supervisors received a copy of the map and discussed the challenges that this situation would present to the various responding departments.
GIS was also asked to briefly present on how this technology could be used to support response and recovery operations for the Village. As a member of the GIS Consortium, Lincolnshire has access to a 24-hour hotline number to request GIS support on an emergency basis. When an after-hours issue arises, a GIS specialist can be paged to come on site and help with information collecting, tracking, and sharing. Having a central source of information will allow the various departments to communicate more effectively in the hours and days after the disaster; maps can be quickly generated and distributed to share findings from different sources as they come in. Additionally, as internet access becomes available, GIS can be used to provide information to the public about the recovery efforts, the location of resources such as food, water, and shelter, and other critical spatial information that would help those affected by the emergency.
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.
During an emergency event, the extent of the area affected and the number of issues occurring as a result of the event are just some of the factors that need to be processed, organized, and reviewed by local government staff to determine the most appropriate course of action. Perhaps the greatest challenge of any emergency response effort is controlling where information is coming from and determining which pieces of information are more critical than others. To help better organize information gathered during a recent storm event, the City of Des Plaines IL used the city’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department to assist with mapping and prioritizing the storm cleanup efforts.
While the initial response to the storm event relied heavily on more traditional forms of data organization and presentation, an effort to streamline the cleanup efforts resulted in GIS being used to develop several mapping products that assisted city staff with visualizing the storm damage. These included a traffic signal outage map, a road closure and downed trees map, and a damaged property map that was developed using information gathered by city building inspectors during the initial damage assessment review. Using these products, city staff was able to better visualize the extent of the damage and, as a result, develop a more effective plan for cleaning up the city.
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 preservation of open space within the floodplain. By having the floodplain clear of structures and impervious surface area, the village receives a higher score due to the lower possibility of damage occurring.
For the village to receive credit for open space preservation, it had to create a list of village owned properties that had areas in the flood plain. Then, the square footage of each area within the floodplain had to be calculated subtracting out any impervious surface area such as roads, sidewalks, parking lots, etc… which was then compared to the entire area of floodplain within the village. The final ratio of open space to flood plain is then used to determine the overall score for open space preservation.
By using GIS, the village was able to save a significant amount of time by using base map data that already existed and floodplain areas provided by FEMA. By using GIS to calculate the areas of open space and impervious surface area for each property, the village did not have to spend time going through building plans and calculating everything by hand. The CRS review is not until later in the year, but by tackling the Open Space Preservation section now, there will be time later to make adjustments to the data.
Like many other Fire Departments, the City of Highland Park Fire Department finds itself having to maintain current level of converage with less resources. Determining where to effectively deploy these resources is an important part of maintaining the expected service level. The Fire Department approached the GIS Office about using GIS to evaluate where to locate Department resources and it was decided to create two series of map products.
The first map product used ESRI’s ArcView with the Network Analysis Extension to create maps showing response times in one minute increments from each station to the edge of the community. The response time routes follow the road network and include impediments such as one way streets and stop signs. The goal of these maps was to judge the impact on response times if one of the stations were closed.
The second set of maps displayed Fire Department response data for a period of one year. Various maps were created and categorized by type and or time. These maps helped identify hot spots of Fire Department responses. The goal of these maps was to analyze areas where the Fire Department mostly frequently responded, so that resources could be effectively deployed to respond to these areas in a timely manor.
By using GIS the Fire Department had a powerful tool to assist with adapting to a new reality. They gained the confidence to make difficult choices because they have the information to judge the impact of these decisions. Thus they will be able to maintain their current service level using fewer resources.
Lake Forest will have access to the web version of MapOffice™ beginning June 1st. The month of May was spent preparing the base data needed to get MapOffice™ up and running, which involved loading previous GIS data into the GIS Consortium standardized database.
MapOffice™ will provide staff and residents with information for each parcel and address in the city, which ranges from school districts and voting information to garbage pick up days. A link to the Lake County Assessor’s website for each individual address is also provided to gain further information regarding building and property dimensions, assessed value, and sales history. Tools will be available to the user to provide further analysis if needed, such as measuring and links to both Google Street View and Bing Maps Bird’s Eye View.
Information commonly used by staff to assist residents will now all be available in one place, increasing efficiency, as well as providing basic information to residents who may have otherwise had to call in to ask about in the past. Work continues on data creation for MapOffice™ Advanced, which is scheduled to be available on the City intranet by mid-June.
Of all the services provided by local municipalities around the world, public safety is arguably the most recognizable and widely supported. Everyone wants to feel that they are safe and that someone will respond to assist them in the case of an emergency. The Village of Winnetka traditionally has provided fire, EMS, and police protection to its residences since it was established, however, over the years, these Village departments have started to provide service to additional areas immediately outside the village boundaries through a series of public service contracts. To assist with coordinating response efforts in these service agreement areas, the fire and police departments asked the village GIS department for assistance.
While several of these contracts are for police services in unincorporated areas south of the village limits, the fire department has the added responsibility of providing service to the Village of Kenilworth, a small municipality located southeast of Winnetka. For years, this area has either not been mapped or has been poorly mapped, making it difficult to plan efficient response routes. To help resolve these issues, the GIS department created several data layers for Kenilworth that allow for more effective response mapping.
Since the Village of Kenilworth is not part of the GIS Consortium, much of the base data for this area was provided by Cook County, including roads, parcels, and an initial street address range line. The other information used to develop this data, such as individual addresses and street names, was provided by a combination of the Winnetka fire and police departments. Using these two sources, a Kenilworth street name table and an initial address database were developed. While these two data layers do not complete the Kenilworth dataset, they allow for additional information to be developed in the Village database, such as a more accurate street address range feature class.
While this service area data is being developed to assist the overall public safety efforts of the Village of Winnetka, ultimately, the police and fire department will use it to accomplish different goals. For the police department, since they provide response assistance to Kenilworth and, often, travel through the village when responding to calls in other communities, the street address range data will be inputted into an existing CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system to provide responding officers with both village address ranges and information on how the streets are aligned to help improve response times. For the fire department, since they are the primary response agency for Kenilworth, the individual resident and commercial property addresses are critical for pinpointing the exact location of an emergency call. A detailed map of Kenilworth, including streets, parcel lines, and individual addresses, will be created to provide the department with accurate property information prior to going out on a call.
For both departments, the data developed by the GIS system will help to improve their ability to respond more efficiently and with more certainty regarding the location of an emergency call. This leads to better public safety services for the Village of Kenilworth and a more reliable system for the Village of Winnetka in responding to an emergency event.