Public safety is a priority for the police department in any municipality. Particularly, the safety of children in public areas should be carefully managed. Recently the village contacted the use of its geographic information system (GIS) department to produce a set of maps displaying where the current locations of school speed zone and no cell phone use signs are distributed around the village.
Using notes provided by the police department, the locations of each sign were entered into GIS. The resulting maps produced after the data was entered in provides a geographical representation of where and what signs are placed near an area of interest (in this case, schools). Furthermore, it allows additional signage to be installed in critical areas that are not covered but current sign placement and to manage the future installation of signs. Without the use of GIS the sign locations would be maintained in a spreadsheet which does not allow a useful means to visualize where signs are actually installed on the ground.
The Village of Morton Grove’s engineering department recently called upon its geographic information system (GIS) to support its 2013 street light bidding project. This year the Village is looking to contract out more than 300 of its street lights along Dempster St, Waukegan Rd, Ferris Ave, and Lincoln Ave. GIS was used to provide supporting materials to contractors bidding on the project.
To assist in the bidding process, GIS first inventoried all of the street lights within the contract boundaries on each respective street. Each boundary is defined by a street light controller that provides power to all of the street lights on its grid. Additionally some Village owned parking lots were included. The next step was to assign a unique identification number to each street light based off of original plans as well as the physical address of the controller. This provides a way for contractors to easily distinguish which light they are performing work on and will assist in managing the plethora of street lights in a given area.
Without the use of GIS there would be no quick and efficient way to not only display the street lights spatially but to maintain a multitude of attributes for management purposes. Keeping these two paired together is where the strength of GIS really is.
The Village of Morton Grove’s public works department recently called upon its geographic information system (GIS) to assist in planning its 2013 tree trimming program. Beginning in 2012 the Village has utilized GIS to provide location maps to contractors when the trimming project has gone out to bid. The trimming is performed from east to west in the project boundaries depending on the amount of funding available.
In 2012 a total of 840 trees were trimmed in an effort to provide clearance above street and sidewalk right-of-ways. For 2013 a whopping 923 trees are in the plans for trimming. Candidate trees are selected by measuring the size of the diameter of the tree at four and a half feet off the ground. That measurement is then used to derive a price to trim each selected tree.
Moving forward with the program this year, GIS has also begun tracking the street segments that have gone out to bid. This will ensure no duplication occurs in the future and will enable the Village’s public works department to better track their tree trimming efforts. Without GIS the project areas would need to be tracked manually and inefficiencies in tracking the program through history would be sure to arise.
On August 10, 2009, Governor Quinn signed into law Public Act 096-0176, which allows municipalities to arrange for the provision of electricity to residential and small commercial retail customers by alternative electric suppliers. As a result of this law ComEd is required to provide a list of service addresses to alternate electric suppliers. ComEd requested that the Village review the ComEd list of service addresses and return any updates.
The village Managers Office requested the GIS Office to compare the ComEd Service Address List against address list in the GIS database. The GIS office reviewed the ComEd Service Address List using GIS tools. Because the GIS address list is considered the master address list the review could be done against one address table.
The review uncovered issues with street names, address numbers, and units. It was also discovered the ComEd Service address list was missing some addresses that were recorded by the Village. All issues and updates were returned to ComEd so their service records could be updated. Without a master address list in the GIS database the review would have required a manual review against several address lists. By using GIS tools to review the ComEd Service Address List, the Village efficiently completed the request for ComEd. The Village is now confident that all residents of the Village will be notified of their options to switch electricity providers.
The amount of information that is accessible to the common computer or smart phone user is unbelievable. Type a word into your web browser, hit search and start reading, it is just that easy. No problems here really, unless you have to do the same internet searches over and over again from multiple websites in order to collect the information you need regularly. All these searches may leave you to wonder how you might be able to centralize all of this data for quick and easy access on a daily basis.
For the Village of Morton Grove, IL, finding a solution to this bigger dilemma was not entirely possible but they were able to enlist the services of their Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to help take away some of the burden. By using an interactive web mapping application that was built on the local network, the Village now has the capability of retrieving information from the web, converting it into geographical information and then display that data on top of a map. What does this do for the end user? Well, a user only has to access the web application, turn on a GIS layer and then click on the point of interest in order to obtain vital information about that location. So far the Village has created more than a half dozen of these accessible layers with some of them helping more than just one department; two of the most recently added layers were railroad crossings and traffic signal locations. What use to take a fire chief or engineer valuable time searching multiple websites for usable information, now only takes a few seconds to access the internal map and click on a location to obtain the same data. Overall, this new format not only centralizes the data that is being accessed, it also saves employees time.
Many homes may come equipped with a driveway for parking vehicles, there are many homes that do not. Additionally, there may be homes that have too many cars to fit on one drive way requiring them to park on the street. Regardless of the case, parking on public streets is something that needs to be monitored in order to ensure traffic safety or potential neighborly disputes. In local government, parking on public streets is handled by the municipal ordinances, monitored by the police and permit parking sticker distribution is controlled by local staff.
Although these systems have been working for years, the Village of Morton Grove, IL wanted to take things in a different direction by making their ordinance information spatial. By way of their Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Department, the data from the Village’s ordinance manual was mapped out so that anyone who is allowed to receive a permit parking vehicle sticker would indeed get one. Moreover, those residents that did not show up in the allowable permit parking mapped areas, would not be eligible to receive a sticker.
All of the mapped out data is now available to the Village staff via a local interactive mapping application. Instead of looking up ordinances in the municipal code or reviewing paper files for each property, the Village employee can now launch the interactive map, search for a property and identify if that resident lives within a permit parking zone. Not only is this application easy to use, it keeps the data in one centralized location so that things are easier to find, thus improving the time efficiency of each employee who uses it.
When people think about moving to a new neighborhood they almost always consider the aspect of safety for them and their family. Whether it is the speed of the local streets or whether or not there is a neighborhood watch group, safety is on every families mind. One item of safety that also tops the charts is how well a street is lighted. For if a street light is out or not functioning properly people are more likely to feel unsafe for they cannot see their surroundings. Additionally, they are likely to call their community’s Public Works Department and complain about the broken light.
From here the Public Works Department is going to send someone out to the field to fix the problem. For the Village of Morton Grove, IL they decided to make sure that the employee that will report to the broken light is amply prepared by knowing what control boxes operate which lights in case there is a need to close a circuit temporarily. The Village decided to use their Geographic Information System (GIS) to publish this information on their local interactive web mapping site so that any employee can locate the street lights and their connecting parts. Additionally, having these street light locations and underground lines mapped out allows other people to be notified of their whereabouts if they are to be digging in that area.
It is easy to see that GIS was able to help by creating a centralized location to access street light information rather than digging up old paper maps. Not only is this process efficient, it also helps in times of need.
It is pretty amazing to think of all the information that has been collected and stored in the past few years by the U.S. Census Bureau. The last major data delivery that was published by the U.S. Census Bureau was in the year 2000 and although that information was useful, it soon became a question of accuracy as time drove on. This year the U.S. Census Bureau has been delivering a large set of new data, much of it coming in the form of database tables and Excel spreadsheets and other sets arriving as Geographical Information System (GIS) data layers.
Other things that have changed since 2000 are the amount of local government entities that have invested in GIS technology. Tasks that might once be a bit difficult have now become easier thanks to help from the GIS. One example of this was the use by the Village of Morton Grove, IL and its need to use 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data in order to determine populations within one, three and five mile radiuses from the village’s corporate limits. This information, once compiled, would be used on advertisement flyer to help draw businesses to move into town. For a new business looking to succeed, they will most likely be concerned without the amount of people they may be able to bring in on a daily basis.
By viewing the 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data layers in GIS, information about specific populations can be derived from the block or block group information. Additionally, simple GIS tools can be used to create buffer distances at one, three and five mile radiuses from the village’s corporate limits. Once you have these two sets of information, some simple analysis can be done to extract the amount of population that resides within each buffer area. A once complex task now simplified thanks to GIS and the U.S. Census Bureau.
It is safe to say that many organizations do not use maps as part of the day-to-day operations simply because their nature of business does not require them to do so. For those organizations that do require maps however, the accuracy of the data displayed on these maps becomes a high priority. For what good would a map be if the information that is on it is wrong?
For local government entities, the amount of changes that happen daily makes the need for data updates all the more important. If a water line was recently installed, it won’t be long before an Engineer needs to see that information in conjunction with the existing water lines in order to help facilitate their future planning process. If a building is demolished, a Planner might not have a good base map to use because the data on the map is old. Often times these updates go unnoticed unless someone notifies the mapping department that a change has occurred.
For the Village of Morton Grove, IL, it is the job of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Mapping Department to keep these changes current for in-house mapping needs and data analysis. The GIS Department continually converses with multiple departments in the Village in order to track down changes as well as takes advantage of a sharing agreement with the county to update parcel information. One of the more interesting methods for updating data has included the use of free aerial photography resources from the internet to overlay on a current map so that new buildings, sidewalks driveways, etc. can be drawn in to their newly designed shape.
Overall, it is not easy to keep up with everything that changes in the real world but having a good centralized repository such as a GIS and fairly decent resources can help from letting your maps become obsolete.
There are many different ways that a local municipality can engage their residents to take part in the community and contribute to the daily operations and occurrences. For example, there are citizen emergency response teams, volunteer crossing guards, volunteers for special events and many more.
One similar program that the Village of Morton Grove, IL is looking to institute is an Honorary Tree Planting Program. This program would allow a Village resident to purchase a tree, with supervision from the Village arborist, and have it planted in honor of someone specific. The idea of this program is to give Village residents the opportunity to honor someone special at the same time they can help out the community financially. In planning for this program, Village employees have been looking for a way to promote it as well as make it accessible to the public in an easy manner. Accessibility would mean that the end product would have to be visible on the internet so that family and friends who do not live in the Village could still see the honorary tree that was planted as well as where it is located within the Village.
For this portion of the program the Village decided to enlist the services of the Geographical Information Systems (GIS) Department in order to publish these honorary trees out on the internet. This process would be handled by a Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file and would sit atop the Google maps framework. Once completed, an internet address will be placed on the Village’s website that will redirect the users to a Google map of all of the trees that have been planted in honor of others.
At this moment the mapping portion of this project is only in its beta stages but if carried out properly it could easily help the program grow as well as demonstrate a way that Village residents can help their community, family and friends.
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.
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.
The Village of Morton Grove like other municipalities receives services from multiple outside organizations like ComEd for electricity or AT&T for phone. Recently the local gas company, Nicor, delivered an address list to the village and requested that the village review this list for accuracy purposes to ensure that Nicor is properly paying tax on gross receipts as well as receiving reimbursement from their customers. Additionally, an accurate address list will help keep Nicor in accordance with the village’s municipal gas tax ordinance as well as help fulfill the village’s tax collection agreement with Nicor. The simple outline of this request comes down to Nicor knowing whether or not their address list is correct and the addresses that they have do indeed fall with the Village of Morton Grove’s village limits.
Although the task of comparing addresses from two different resources can be done manually, it is better suited for the use of a robust computer software to handle the operation. For this request the Village of Morton Grove decided to enlist the services of the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department to assist with this address comparison project. Results that could take days would now only take a few hours to produce by using the comparison tools found within the GIS. Once completed, the GIS uncovered multiple addresses that did indeed match between Nicor and the village but more importantly, also uncovered multiple addresses that the village had that Nicor did not. These addresses are now under further inspection to make sure that the village and Nicor can be true to the agreements they currently have in place.
At times it may be common for people to underestimate the interest a local municipal government has in maintaining an accurate inventory of their utility infrastructures. But to a public works employee, knowing what is out the field and where to go when a line needs repair is essential if any work is going to be done. Although there are various methods for collecting utility information including hand drawn maps or computer aided designs, the Village of Morton Grove is using a Geographic Information System (GIS) that not only holds the line work of the utility system but also handles the attributes of each structure as it is out in the field (i.e. 8 inch water main with a material of ductile iron).
More importantly though, are the efficient methods that can be used in order to keep this digital data up to date so that the field crews and engineers can have trust in the GIS. While most contracted projects are designed in some sort type of Computer Aided Design (CAD) format, there are times when a municipality only receives an image of this design in a PDF format. This format is not preferred but it is surely not to be seen as waste. The ability to convert a PDF image to a JPEG image and then spatially rectify this drawing using tools within the GIS is quite easy. Better yet, there is even technology that will convert a PDF into digital lines that can then be copied into your existing inventory and attributed properly. Either way you slice it, you now have an accurate representation of proposed design that can be used to make updates to your current utility infrastructure, much better than estimating the true locations of these lines. Talk about being efficient.
Local municipalities are always changing the way their communities are laid out in an effort to find the best fit for their residents as well as their visitors. These changes may come in the form of widening streets, tearing down and rebuilding infrastructure or possibly eliminating the ability to park on certain streets. For the Village of Morton Grove they were interested in investigating the latter as they looked to review their current parking restriction ordinances in order to help with future parking propositions.
For this analysis the village decided to enlist the services of the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department for its ability to map out all of the current parking restrictions geographically. The village believed that a map would provide a better visual representation of the current parking ordinance restrictions and also give them the proper means for review; much easier than reading these restrictions line for line in the written ordinance.
The design of the map was simple such that it only included the basic geographic street data as well as a color coded line where each unique color represented a different parking restriction. This map could then be printed or viewed electronically as means for review and analysis. Additionally, the underlying data behind the map was structured so that in-depth analysis could be conducted on any given street at any given time in order to retrieve ordinance information. The luxury of using the GIS in this case empowered the user to quickly compare ordinance information geographically and textually rather than performing the laborious task of searching through the ordinance documents on-line.
For years the Village of Morton Grove has used their own snow plow equipment to clean up the village owned parking lots so that residents, commuters, patrons and business employees have a safe place to park. Although this task has always been rooted in the guidelines of what the Public Works Department has to accomplish during a winter snow fall, it is not until recently that they have considered the possibility of contracting this work out for a lower price than what it may cost internally. Even though the idea of using outside resources to fulfill local duties is nothing new in local government, it is still up to the community to do their research on what they are asking an external contractor to do as well as what they can expect to be charged for these types of services.
Part of this researching process has forced the village to lean on their Geographic Information System (GIS) Department for the creation of maps and square footage figures for each parking lot that the village currently plows. Subsequently, what could normally take multiple hours of field measurements by numerous village employees, can now be generated in a matter of minutes using the existing data stored within GIS. After each parking lot is located, it is only a matter of creating overview maps for each parking lot with labels detailing the amount of square footage that would need to be plowed the contractor. These maps not only give a good geographic view of each lot, they can also help the internal staff with their decision making process regarding whether or not they want to move ahead with the contractual bidding process.
Although a Geographic Information System (GIS) is quite sophisticated, there are often times when its power is only needed to perform simple tasks. New to the Village of Morton Grove Public Works Department is the use of GIS to help map out all locations in town that are slated for street patching. While many streets get selected each year for a complete overhaul and resurface, many streets only require a few temporary patches to keep them off the list of failed streets for the year. Moreover, while locating an entire street segment that is selected for resurfacing may be easy, it is the pinpointing of where each specific street patch is set to occur that is harder to place.
For this reason alone the Public Works Department decided to use GIS to assist mapping out their street patching program for the current year. The program started by supplying the GIS Department with all of the locations that were proposed to be patched for the current year with plans to adjust these locations based on budgeting constraints and further field review. Because the base of GIS contains centralized data that is easy to edit, any submitted changes that were submitted during the patching program could easily be corrected followed by the generation of new maps. It is with this ease of data manipulation and new map creation that details while GIS can save time and money even on the simple tasks. Additionally, the labor of this project has now created data that can be archived for the future should anyone decide to inquire about a specific street patch that occurred this year.
Local communities are constantly changing in order to meet the vast array of shifting that occurs within the economy. If the economy is going strong then many new businesses may start to pop up on every corner. More importantly, when the economy is doing poorly, many businesses may close up shop leaving many vacant and available properties. Because municipalities need these businesses to survive, it is important that they monitor what is happening on the ground level in order to better understand how these changes can affect the community’s generation of revenue.
At the Village of Morton Grove, they have been tracking the changes of available properties for the past five years in order to keep a watchful eye on what is happening. More recently they have decided to leverage the use of their Geographic Information System (GIS) in order to map out where these available properties were located throughout town. Not only would this give the village a good understanding on what business sectors might be struggling, it would also allow them to identify if any trends have been occurring over these five years. All of the data that was originally stored in word documents was migrated into GIS and given a geographical location based on address. This way the data could come to life on a map making it easier for the Economic Developer to understand what is happening in the community. From there, it will be up to them to try and fix the problem by advertising available space or possibly look to redesign an area to make it more attractive for potential business owners. Overall, although GIS won’t be solving the problem, it is simple to see that GIS can help to make tabular data come to life and thus provide a good visual representation of what is occurring within the community.
One of the many benefits that a Geographic Information System (GIS) can provide is the ability to keep data centralized so future updates can be made frequently and with ease. At the Village of Morton Grove the Police Department has decided take full advantage of the GIS to start their planning early for one of the largest event of the year, the Morton Grove Days Fourth of July Celebration. To the average spectator this special event may seem easy to host but that is simply not the case. The amount of planning that it takes for street closures, proper police coverage, safe seating, etc. all require well thought out ideas and eventually a few good maps.
Each year the Police Department implements a few new ideas that they believe will help the event go smoother than it may have in the previous year. But it was not until this year that they decided a map of the event area and all of its parts could act as a great aide for the new ideas that they are proposing to institute. The process simply starts as a rough draft map on paper that eventually makes its way in the computer as GIS data. Locations of police officers, music stages, patron seating areas, etc. all become GIS data that are stored in one centralized database in the computer. This data is then used in combination with other existing GIS data to create a simple map schematic of the event. Furthermore, the map is printed for review by the Police Department and any changes that need to be made are as easy as a few simple edits. Thus demonstrating how storing data in one centralized location such as a GIS can improve time efficiency when creating and updating maps for pre-planning purposes.
With the forward motion of technology, many local governments have taken advantage of what is on the market in order to bolster the productivity of their daily operations. For the Village of Morton Grove Public Works Department, the use of such technology was twofold; one being the change out and upgrade of all water meters to a wireless meter reading system and two, the use of Geographic Information System (GIS) to monitor the locations and status of these meter change outs.
The Morton Grove Public Works Department has recently engaged in a contract with an outside consultant to switch out all water meters from their standard system to a wireless system over the next few years. Not only will this new system read the water use numbers of each meter in town and send that number across the wireless network to one centralized database for billing, it will also free up time of the village staff who usually reads these meters manually allowing them to assist on other projects within community. So where does GIS get involved? Easy, the GIS Department takes spreadsheets full of water meter change out locations from the Water Foreman and maps them based on their address. From there these addresses become points on a map along with all of the other pertinent information about each meter. Once these locations are all mapped out, they are then published to the village’s interactive mapping website and color coded by the year the meter was installed. Over time, these meters will be continually mapped and published to this website and the colors of each meter will change to a standard color once the change out has occurred. Thus allowing the Water Foreman to visualize what areas of town have been changed out and what areas still need to be completed and further exemplifying the great use of technology to save the village time and money.
Municipality commonly will invest in or be provided with a piece of software that they can use to meet the demands of their daily tasks. Although this is helpful in many cases, there is often a level of data accuracy and data quality - that may suffer labeling some of this software as one to be used with caution. Recently the Village of Morton Grove Fire Department was provided with a great piece of software from their regional dispatch center that had many of the functions necessary to complete the day to day functions but lacked one major component, reliable geographic data.
Without reliable geographic data one may be subject to responding to an incorrect location in a dire time of need. With that being said, it was imperative for the Morton Grove Fire Department to enlist the services of the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department in order to upgrade this new software with the data that GIS edits every day. Luckily technology has come a long way allowing the two pieces of software to talk to each other and thus integrate the existing fire response software with accurate GIS data. This capability will ensure that data can continually be supplied locally by GIS without having to incur the costs that may be charged by the external software company, a win-win for the village as a whole.
About every ten years a Fire Department conducts a review of their services in order to increase their chances of getting a better Insurance Services Organization (ISO) rating; the better a rating the Fire Department receives, the more money a commercial property will save on their fire insurance. In order to prepare for this evaluation, The Village of Morton Grove Fire Department is using all the techniques they can find to boost their chances of a better overall rating. A technology aid that was not around the last time they conducted an ISO evaluation was the Geographic Information System or better known as GIS.
Although GIS is not the only contributor to this in-depth evaluation process, it definitely allows the Fire Department to take advantage of their in-house GIS staff to prepare maps and data at a lower cost. These maps and data outputs will supply the ISO reviewer with the information that they need in order to accurately judge the type of services the Morton Grove Fire Department supplies and should in help in all efforts to better the village’s ISO rating. In addition, should any other questions arise during the review process; the GIS will be a great place to start when trying to gather quick and accurate information; thus proving the usefulness of the Geographic Information System’s ability to help when needed and better yet, save people some money.
One of the disadvantages that may arise while creating an informative map is the amount of time it can take to create new data where it does not previously exist. But what if that data already existed in a format that you could use? The advantage of using a Geographic Information System (GIS) for mapping is the system’s versatility to handle the other formats of data, which in the end can save the user a lot of time and money.
For the Village of Morton Grove, the ability to use a Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawing within GIS meant that the village could take existing data from the consultant and use it in-house to create the maps that they desired for their Dempster Streetscape plans. Once the CAD data was received by the village, it was then imported into GIS, rectified to fit the correct geographical location and subsequently used like any other data layer already in the map. This approach was much more efficient because it turned the control over to the village as well as removed the time that would be wasted calling the consultant every time a small adjustment needed to be made to the map. In addition, the end map product reflected a custom design that the village knew would be relatable to their residents when they reviewed the map at the Dempster Street Improvement open-house.
It is not always easy to obtain CAD data from a consultant, but if a digital drawing is accessible it is well worth the time to request it, use it and in the end, benefit from the time and money you save by not creating data that could be considered redundant.
Springtime in the Chicago land area in some cases can mean more noise from construction then the sounds of birds chirping. And although the nice weather at this time of year allows for field crews to work with little disruption, local residents would often disagree that they are not disturbed. When streets are suddenly closed or traffic begins to build, residents of a community can certainly become irritated and thus complain to the community staff. Even though it is impossible to stop these complaints completely, a community can do their best to notify the residents where and when these big construction projects will be occurring, this is exactly what the Village of Morton Grove did.
With help from the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department, Morton Grove was able to create a construction location map detailing where all of the major projects were happening in town. In addition, the Village Engineer wrote a brief description detailing the scope of each project that was to be included as a legend to the map. Each description in the legend referred to a number on the map allowing a reader to gather information about any of the projects that were occurring. As an end product this map and the legend were then published in the spring newsletter and eventually mailed to all of the village residents.
Considering it is impossible to satisfy everyone all the time, you still have to make the proper efforts to at least try. In this specific case it is easy that publishing a simple map with a legend can allow the Village of Morton Grove to continue providing an important service of public announcements.
It is apparent that technology is getting better as new ways of using it are also on the rise. Within Geographic Information System (GIS), technology also continues to advance and allow for data to be edited in many different environments. One enhancement of technology that GIS has encountered is the ability to make a copy of a database, release it to a field crew for disconnected editing and then bring those field edits back into the original database. In GIS it is considered a “checkout database” and it is something that the Village of Morton Grove is taking full advantage of for their Street Sign Inventory.
The village has a GIS Specialist on site only three times every two weeks making consistent editing a tough task. But with the use of a disconnected editing environment the GIS Specialist can now turn the project over to the community staff and train them how to edit the sign model personally. This will not only make the project more efficient, it will also give the sign shop employees a chance to manage the signs as they are changed out on a daily basis, thus enhancing the integrity of the data. Once a week when the GIS Specialist comes on site, they can review the data, load it back into the original database and then give the sign shop a new database to edit for the following week.
With this work flow in place, it is not too hard to imagine the amount of time and money that will be saved by using the latest improvements in technology. Time and money that would have normally be spent using the old fashioned editing methods.
The versatility of a Geographic Information System (GIS) is usually driven by the user’s request. Although some requests can be more complex than others, it is often times that simple GIS operations help to provide the easiest solutions. For the Village of Morton Grove, the simple, quick and accurate data that the GIS could provide was all that was needed in order to help the Engineering Department complete a survey regarding the selection of the most optimal site for a solar panel installation.
An outside engineering consultant firm was requesting that the Village of Morton Grove answer the following question: “What is the distance from the solar panel installation site to its first obstruction at an angle of 90 degrees and what is the height of that first obstruction?” In addition, they were interested in answering this same question for all obstructions at 10 degree intervals ranging from 100 – 270 degrees. For GIS this was a simple request considering the fact that building heights and angle/distance calculations were easy numbers to derive from pre-existing data. With the help from internal staff, height estimates were assigned to all trees in case they were to be the first obstruction encountered and needed to be considered in survey. From there it was as simple as drawing lines in the GIS at fixed angles and ending these lines where they met their first obstruction whether it was a tree or building. Once all of lines were drawn, it was simple to fill out and submit the survey with accurate numbers derived from the digitized data in GIS.
The overall goal was to provide accurate information so that the engineering consultant firm could determine if the solar panel site location would receive sufficient sunlight or if it would be highly obstructed in its proposed location. By using the tools found within GIS, it was quite easy for the Engineering Department to provide useful numbers that would help in the decision making process as to whether or not the proposed location would be the most optimal. Moreover, the method of using GIS versus sending out field crews to collect this information manually was much more efficient as well as less costly.
Although it is possible to put a number on the purchase price of a device that notifies people of an emergency, giving people amble time to reach safety is priceless. Like all Public Safety personnel who pride themselves in the art of providing a safe place for their residents to live, the Village of Morton Grove Fire Department is no different. They continue to look for new ways to ensure that they know their town and they know what their residents need.
One item that makes this list of needs is the ever-important emergency siren. Emergency sirens act as noisemakers that have the ability to be heard for up to almost a mile in distance. If these devices are properly located throughout a municipality, they can offer enough noise to warn all residents of an oncoming emergency. The question is “How do you know where to position these sirens so that they can be heard village-wide.” That is a question that the Morton Grove Fire Department knew might be easily answered by the help of Geographic Information System (GIS) Department.
Considering that the Fire Department already knew where their existing siren locations were located they could start the analysis right then and there. By using a simple tool found within GIS, a process known as a “Buffer” would be applied to existing siren location in order to generate a fixed-distance ring around the existing structure. This distance would depict the range in which the siren manufacturer indicated humans could hear the siren noise. Although the emergency siren manufacturer indicated that the siren could be heard from 5,000 feet away the Morton Grove Fire Department decided to play it safe and run the “Buffer” at a distance of 4,000 feet instead. This way they could add a cushion of ensured safety to their analysis.
Once the first buffer was run it was then up to the Fire Department to locate village owned land that they could use in order to install as many new emergency sirens as it would take to cover the entire municipality. Each time they were granted the right to use a piece of land they would submit the location to the GIS Department to run an additional buffer. Furthermore, they continued to analyze what locations might work as which location might not work in order to reach their goal of blanketing the entire community with an emergency siren call during a time of need.
After many alterations between existing and proposed locations, the Fire Department has narrowed down the placement search to five proposed sites and one existing location. These locations and their respective buffers have been placed on map and submitted to the Fire Department for their internal use. All in all, a once daunting task has now been made easier by the use of GIS.
Understanding the trends of what is happening in the housing market is difficult to do especially if you are not in the realty business. Houses may be sold, rented or even more dramatic, torn down in order to build a new one. In this article we will focus on two parts of the housing market that at times can have a significant impact on a local community, housing demolitions and property foreclosures.
Unless you are out driving the streets everyday it may be tough to locate all of the homes in a community that have been torn down or are vacant due to foreclosures. At the Village of Morton Grove, like many other community governments, they have had a permitting application in place for many years in order to help them keep track of important construction operations that require permits. On top of this software, the village has also invested in a service to retrieve property foreclosure information from the internet. But how do you analyze all of these records spatially in order to know if there are any trends in housing within your community borders? For this difficulty alone, it makes analysis a tough thing to do unless you have a visual component such as an accurate map.
This is where the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department was able to lend a helping hand. The ability to retrieve records from the permitting application in the form of an address and knowing what type of permit was issued (i.e. single family demolition) was a strong step in the right direction. By having a simple common denominator in the form of an address allowed the two departments to work with each other and better yet, allowed these addresses to be displayed spatially on a map. By using a tool called geocoding, the GIS was able to search a address data file and locate where an address falls on a particular parcel. Moreover, this same geocoding process was followed for property foreclosure information. Once these addresses were converted into a true geographical location, they could then be represented on a map allowing building officials to begin analyzing the trends that are happening on the streets within their community.
Without being able to locate these demolitions and property foreclosures geographically, it is very difficult to analyze what trends may be forming on a daily basis. Moreover, instead of leaving these records hidden in a database it is much easier to give this data a geographical location in the form of a map which in turn can to tell the village board what is really happening to the homes within their community.
Overall, it is very important for a community to see the big picture in order to identify where problems have occurred and where new ones may arise in the future. Moreover, it is also worthy to note how multiple departments can work together at identifying these problems in the first place so that they may plan more affectively for what be coming on the road ahead.
According to federal law, “Adult Uses” are protected uses under the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and if a community does not provide a sufficient amount of land area for this use to exist, the municipality can be considered as violating free speech. Furthermore, this municipality could end up in Federal Court.
Morton Grove drafted regulations in their zoning ordinance in 1998. At that time, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that 3% of a municipality’s total land area should be available for an Adult Use location. In addition, the State of Illinois adopted legislation that required adult uses to be a distance of no less than 300 feet from a residential area, church, park, or school. Adult Entertainment Facilities in the Village of Morton Grove were made special uses in the M-2 General Manufacturing District only, and met both federal and state regulations at the time. Based on more recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the new constitutional test is that “Adult Uses” must be allowed as of right in a location that comprises either 1% of the total land area of the municipality or 5% of the total non-residential land area; thus the reason for conducting this study.
In regards to these new rulings the Village of Morton Grove, not only wanted to determine which of the newly prescribed land areas would yield the least amount of acreage they would need to make available for an adult use, but also wanted to determine if they could increase the distance from a residential area, church, park, or school in which an Adult Entertainment Facility could be located from the previous 300 feet buffer to 500, 700, or even 1,000 feet. All of this of course would be dependent on the possible amount of land area inside of the M2 Manufacturing District that could satisfy the new Supreme Court rulings. The project challenge now resided in finding enough land area inside of the M-2 Manufacturing District to comply with the federal rulings, increase the buffer distance, and try and keep an new state laws an Adult Entertainment Facilities from locating on major thoroughfares. The first step was to determine the acreage for 1% of the total land area, and 5% of the non-residential land area. This was calculated very efficiently by using the GIS system, which showed that the 1% of total land area was 32.75 acres and the 5% of non-residential land was 26.47 acres.
Therefore, if the Village of Morton Grove was able to find at least 26.47 acres inside of the M-2 Manufacturing District, and not on a major thoroughfare, they could then start measuring out the possible distances from residential areas, churches, parks, or schools to see if an increase from the original 300ft buffer to either 500, 700, or 1,000ft was feasible.
- Would there be enough usable land inside of the M-2 Manufacturing District to conclude this study?
- Would the Village of Morton Grove be able to increase their buffer and strengthen their ordinance on Adult Entertainment
These sorts of questions are what got Senior Planners investigating the use of GIS for its time saving techniques and accurate analysis of the village’s land composition. Now it was up to the GIS Specialist, with assistance from the Senior Planner, to calculate the possibilities of increasing the strength of the village ordinance on “Adult Uses.” Facilities? The GIS Specialist for the Village of Morton Grove was contacted by the Planning Department in regards to this project and a meeting was held to exemplify the ease of this analysis by using the GIS.
The first primary goal was to obtain a center point for the entire M-2 Manufacturing District in order to get a visual display on where parcels with a larger land area lied close to this center point. By doing so this would help ensure that a larger buffer has a better chance of being implemented without affecting residential areas, churches, parks, or schools The second objective was to start collecting parcels that totaled at least 26.47 acres that did not lie on major thoroughfares. Once this criterion was met the GIS Specialist was able to create multiple buffers at the 300, 500, 700, and 1,000ft ranges in order to see what areas, if any, outside of the M-2 Manufacturing District were affected. Furthermore, this part of the analysis allowed the GIS to prove whether or not a new ordinance could be written with a stronger restriction placed on Adult Entertainment Facilities. Even better, this analysis saved the village planners time and inaccuracies from attempting to measure these distances by hand. The GIS provided the answer and it was apparently obvious that the Village of Morton Grove could indeed increase their buffer distance from residential areas, churches, parks, or schools from the original 300ft restriction to a 700ft buffer restriction as long as the Forest Preserve was not included.
“The GIS saved the analysis and we can share it with other communities that may want to do the same thing when/if they update their codes. Maybe the ease of this with GIS will serve as a wake up call to all the communities that haven't but should update their adult use regulations to avoid any legal challenges!”(Jacobson, B. 2006)
Almost every day of the week, police officers are called to the scene of a traffic accident to provide assistance. But how many times does a police officer report to the same place twice? Moreover, do they report to high traffic volume intersections more than smaller residential streets for these accidents? These were the types of questions the Police Department for the Village of Morton Grove aimed to study. The Police Department wanted to analyze how many accidents were happening every three months and where exactly were these accidents taking place. Furthermore, they needed and easy method for displaying these results so they could attempt to find out what was causing these accidents to happen.
With these ideas in mind, the Police Department requested the services of the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department. By using the tools located within the GIS, each traffic accident that was recorded by the Police Department could easily geocoded to a geographical location. Geocoding is an operation that searches a street or address data file and locates the coordinate where an address falls on a particular street, in this case, the tool located the intersection where the accident occurred.
Once the traffic accidents are located, they are placed on a map in order to analyze where the most accidents arise as well as what time of day the accidents occurred. Each time the map was created it used different colored points to help the viewer depict if the accident happened at night or during the day. A trend seemed to form near the intersections of busy streets but it was still hard to see if there were any “out of the ordinary” circumstances. For this reason alone, the GIS Department recommended that at the end of each year the data be represented as graduated symbols for the amount of accidents occurring in the same location rather than single points for every single accident (for example, large circles for a high accident count and small circles for a low accident count). This made it easier to discern which areas of town had the more accidents than other parts of the village and was well received by the Police Department. By using this methodology, the final map product was much easier to read and allowed the Police Department to easily target which streets required more attention for traffic safety studies.
Since the inception of this project, the analysis has been performed every three months and all maps are immediately submitted to the Police Department for review. Thus making it easy to see how recorded accident reports from the Police Department’s records can be used with the tools of the Geographic Information System in order to make graphical data that can simply be analyzed.
More often than not a local community has a need to notify their residents when a large event is about to occur. Whether it is a fourth of July fireworks display or a street closing for a street festival, residents deserve to know when something is going to affect them and the neighborhood around them. For the Village of Morton Grove the act of notifying residents has been practiced in many ways but it was not until the implementation of the Geographic Information System (GIS) that a simpler method came to fruition.
By using the tools located within the GIS, notifications that normally took a few hours could now be completed in only a few minutes. With the ability of the GIS to house all addresses within the village as well as the proper tools to apply a buffer from the location of the event, the old methods of manual measurements could now be retired.
A typical situation may involve the Police Department who is concerned with the flow of traffic around such a large event as well as keeping the streets free and clear within a specific distance of the event. From there the request is made to the GIS Department to select all addresses within a one hundred foot buffer of the streets that have been assigned to be closed during the event. Buffering the closed streets by one hundred feet will ensure that all residents on both sides of the street are aware of the “no parking restriction” and thus forth, keep the streets clear during the event. Once the GIS has applied the one hundred foot buffer and then selects all of the addresses within the buffered area, these addresses are then exported to a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. In addition, this excel spreadsheet can eventually be used in a mail merge in order to create printed address labels that will be applied to the notification letters.
Although the processes of dropping fliers in a mailbox or knocking on the doors of residents still works to notify them of something important, it is rather time consuming and may be difficult to handle. Moreover, manual measurements on a map to retrieve all addresses within a certain distance can be highly inaccurate. But by using the tools within the GIS, much of the time consuming hard work and error possibilities can be avoided. Thus, displaying a simple solution to a fairly complex operation.
Ensuring proper lighting of streets is a public service that local communities take satisfaction in providing. Without lights, streets would be impossible to drive on, walk on, or even live along. Therefore, the Public Works Department for Village of Morton Grove decided it was crucial to create a street light inventory of lights that they maintained. This inventory would help them provide better service for their residents. Moreover, they also wanted to locate the electrical lines that supplied power to each streetlight in order to be certain that field crews would not accidently come into contact with them when digging for other utilities.
Although many of the field workers were aware of the locations streetlights owned by the village, they were unaware of how the electrical lines in the ground connected them together. In addition to this problem, they did not have an easy way of directing new employees to the location streetlights and electrical lines. This would prove to be a major safety concern for crews out in the field. For these reasons, the Public Works Department decided to enlist the services of the Geographical Information Services (GIS) Department to help them map out the location of electrical utilities.
The first step of this inventory process involved providing the Public Works field crews with an atlas of maps so that they could temporarily mark down the locations of the streetlights and underground electrical lines while working out in the field. Once all the maps were updated with, proper field note corrections they were then submitted to the GIS Department to begin the entry process into the computer. At this point, the GIS Department analyzed the real world features to determine which features were important for the Public Works Department. A model that easily depicted what was happening out on the streets was created based on this analysis.
Once the model was created, the data entry portion then took place by digitizing these features and storing them in a geographical database. Streetlight poles, streetlights, electrical lines, splice boxes and control features were added into the database as well as the proper relationships between these features (i.e. this street light pole has two street lights attached to it and each light is incandescent). By having the data in this fashion, it was easy for the Public Works Department to locate these features on a map but also allow them to answer questions like “How many lights need replacing?” or “What control box turns these lights on and off?”
The final step in this inventory process was for the GIS Department to create a new map atlas that displayed this street light model in its entirety and deliver the printed copies of this atlas to the field crews. The field crews carried these atlases in their vehicles for easy access to assist them with determining if they are digging in an unsafe area or need to know where to turn of the electrical current for a set of streetlights.
This successful process displays how taking real world features from the field and mapping them in GIS allowed the Public Works Department of Morton Grove to continue providing an efficient service of lighting streets as well keeping their employees safe when working in the field.
Making sure that all residents feel safe within their place of residence is a service that a Police Department takes satisfaction in providing. The act of fighting burglary crime can be categorized as a part of providing this important service. The Police Department for Village of Morton Grove decided that to be able to analyze when burglaries were happening as well as where they were happening might help to establish a trend in crime activity. Moreover, being able to identify a trend in burglaries would give the Police Department a better idea on how to fight it. This is where the Police Department decided to enlist the services of the Geographical Information Services (GIS) Department in order to help them map out where these burglaries were occurring.
When a burglary or attempted burglary occurs within the Village of Morton Grove it is first recorded by police officer on duty and transferred to a spreadsheet that can be submitted to the GIS Department. The main identifier that allows the GIS Department to map out these burglary locations is the address that is initially recorded by the police officer. The recorded addresses entered into the spreadsheet also include the date and time of the incident, as well as if the burglary occurred to a residence or a commercial property or was only an attempted burglary. Having these attributes would eventually provide more information to the visual component once it is mapped out by representing each incident based on its specific characteristics. This in turn would allow the Police Department to analyze where the most crime was occurring.
By using the tools located within the GIS, the addresses that were recorded for each burglary incident could easily be assigned a geographical based on a process called geocoding. Geocoding is an operation that searches a street centerline data layer and locates where an address falls on a particular street within a specific block. Once these addresses are located, they are then placed on a map in order to analyze where the most incidents occur. In addition to plotting the burglary locations by the month, the village decided that an added benefit would come by mapping out these incidents per year. This type of analysis has allowed the Police Department to locate the most problematic areas of town and decide what type of action they would want to take in order to prevent future burglaries from happening.
Since the inception of this project, the analysis has been performed every three months and all maps are submitted to the Police Department immediately. All in all, it is easy to see how taking data from a simple spreadsheet and using it within GIS has converted a simple recording project into an analysis tool that the village can ultimately use in order to continue provide their residents with the service of safety.
Whether it is to take a shower or fill up a glass of water people use the resource of water everyday. Although the process of getting this resource to the consumers seems to happen without much exposure, it is definitely noticed when the water stops running. The procedures that a local community conducts in order to provide their residents with clean and useable water is something that they take very seriously; so it is no wonder why they continually investigate the strength of the water utility infrastructure. For the Village of Morton Grove they have decided to do just that.
Every time a water main break occurs within the village limits it is first reported to the public works department and then it is serviced. The third process that the Village of Morton Grove performs is to track the closest address to where the water main break occurred. These addresses are then entered into a spreadsheet every month and stored away for records sake. Although this method was efficient it lacked one final step that would allow for the village engineers to truly study what was happening to their water utility system, a visual component. Having a visual component would help the engineers to analyze where the most water main breaks were occurring and if they were continuing to happen on the same water main. This is where the village enlisted the resources of the Geographic Information System (GIS) department.
By using the tools located within the GIS, the addresses that were recorded for each water main break could easily be given a geographic location on the earth based on a process called geocoding. Geocoding is an operation that searches a street centerline data layer and locates where an address falls on a particular street within a specific block. Once these addresses are located, they are then placed on a map in order to analyze where the most breaks occur.
In addition to plotting the water main break locations by month the village decided that the true benefit would come by mapping out these incidents per year and even more in depth, by multiple years. In total, this type of analysis allowed for the village to locate the most problematic areas of town and decide on what water mains might actually need to be replaced before more breaks continue to come about.
Since the inception of this project the analysis has been performed at least once a year. Moreover, the maps that are generated from the project are studied and eventually brought before the budget committee when considering how much money should be allocated for fixing these problems. All in all, it is easy to see how taking data from a simple spreadsheet and using it within GIS has converted a simple recording project into an analysis tool that the village can ultimately use in order to provide their residents with the valuable resource of water.
Within the sector of local government there are many important services that a community provides for their residents. Among the long list, one service that often gets a lot of discussion is the condition of the streets, or better yet, the street resurfacing program. Whether residents file a complaint about the vast number of potholes on a street or someone passing through town inquires about a refund for a road induced flat tire, the general condition of a street attracts a fair amount of attention. With these ideas in mind the Village of Morton Grove decided to take a different approach at surveying the condition of their streets in an effort to better understand the current state of their road infrastructure.
The village decided that to maximize the use of their time and money they would create a street resurfacing inventory with the help of an application called MicroPaverTM as well as the resources of the Geographic Information System (GIS). Collectively, both applications had something that the other program did not necessarily excel at. MicroPaverTM was very proficient at managing a street inventory and assigning all streets with an accurate condition rating based on multiple street condition attributes. On the other hand, the GIS was very good at producing a final product in the form of a map and making the results from the MicroPaverTM more understandable to the common viewer.
Although the village engineers were more concerned with the numbers and statistics reported from the MicroPaverTM software, they knew that the data had to be readable to the village board staff that were not engineers themselves. By having access to the capabilities that the MicroPaverTM technology provided it was quite simple to use an export tool that would transfer the street data into a GIS useable file. Once in the GIS, the streets were categorized based on their pavement condition rating and given a color scheme to delineate which streets had a status of pass and which had a status of failure. Applying the proper color scheme to the final map product was crucial since the map would eventually be displayed at the village’s budget meeting and act as a mechanism for understanding the overall condition of the current street infrastructure. In addition, the more streets that were displayed with a failing status might lead the board to believe that more of the budget dollars should be allocated to the street resurfacing program.
In conclusion, community projects that require definitive answers usually require a systematic approach. In the example listed above it easy to see that using GIS in conjunction with the MicroPaverTM software allowed the Engineering Department of Morton Grove to answer some serious questions in regards to an important community service, street resurfacing.
The ways in which waste is removed from our home and how water makes it into our glasses are often overlooked as processes that just happen on their own. This is simply not true. In fact, these services provided by the Village of Morton Grove are looked after very carefully and thought of as serious village operations. Moreover, it is safe to say that having an up-to-date inventory of where these utilities are precisely located is a necessity as well; this is where GIS can help.
The Geographic Information System (GIS) Department routinely utilizes its valuable resources to analyze the layout of its current utility infrastructures. By using the aerial photography that the village paid for in 2006, the GIS Specialist is able to review utility lines and structures in their current location and compare them to where they are located on the aerial photography. Since the utility infrastructure data was originally created at a time when good aerial photography was hard to come by, many of this data is not one hundred percent accurate.
Although going to the field to identify the locations of utility lines and structures is a good method, the ability to quickly access accurate aerial photography and use it in-house allows for a large percentage of the data to be verified without leaving the desk. This allows the village to save time and money for a good portion of the review process.
It is important to note that using GIS not only can enhance the integrity of the village’s utility data, but it is also key to recognize that having this accurate data allows for trustworthy calculations. For example, when the village conducts a water distribution study, they rely on the most up-to-date data to submit to an outside consultant so they can obtain the most accurate results. Moreover, when the Sewer Department wants to inventory what supplies might be needed for an upcoming project; they can easily look at the current utility infrastructure in GIS to get some ideas. Without an accurate foundation, most analyses cannot provide much value but by using available assets, it is easy to see how GIS can improve the reliability of utility data and make it a more trustworthy resource.
The aerial photography and utility infrastructure review process, in conjunction with the help of GIS technology, helps to answer valuable questions related to the services that the village provides. As times go on, the village continues to successfully update their utility data in order to better understand what they currently own and are in control of, which helps the village to provide a service that on average is not always recognized.