The Administration Department recently called upon the Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) to assist with the creation of a map to be included in the Village sculpture brochure. The brochure is meant to provide some history and a brief description about the Village’s ten sculptures. In 2012, the Public Arts Advisory Committee (PAAC) bought five new sculptures to be displayed around the Village. The PAAC receives funds by tacking on a small fee to building permits exceeding $10,000. The funds are exclusively used to make Skokie a more artistic and aesthetically pleasing place to live.
To support the community sculpture brochure, GIS created a map of the locations of each sculpture. These locations are numbered so the corresponding sculpture can be referenced throughout the brochure. This allows the reader to quickly locate and find information related to each respective sculpture. Without the help of GIS the sculpture brochure would not have a useful way to display the locations of the sculptures on a map and getting to each sculpture would be more difficult.
The month of October was an exciting time around the Village of Skokie. The onset of autumn was apparent with seasonal decorations going on display and trees changing into their fall colors. This year the Village manager’s office decided to put on a fun activity or “spook-tivity” for local area children to celebrate the Halloween season and donate food items to a good cause. GIS was called upon to create the map that would be placed into the guide for the children to navigate to participating businesses in the downtown area.
To help the children get to all thirty-four participating businesses, a custom map was created to be inserted in the guide. The children were asked to visit at least ten area businesses where they would receive a check mark for visiting and a tasty Halloween treat. To make this process easy for children to follow, the map was numbered with the participating merchants which corresponded to numbered bubbles on the back of the guide for the children to check off. Without a map the children would not have had an easy and fun way to get to each business.
The Personal Health Division within the Health Department at the Village of Skokie provides numerous services to its residents. From immunizations to testing for diabetes, the Health Department offers a wide range of clinics at affordable prices. There are however, services that the Health Department simply does not have the resources to offer.
To aid residents seeking for health services not offered at the Village, the Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to provide a map of available clinics in the Greater Chicagoland area for uninsured and underinsured residents. This map is used as a brochure at the Health Department for an easy way to guide an individual to a clinic that will service their needs. The map highlights five clinics, detailing their respective addresses and where they are spatially located in the Chicagoland area. Without GIS the Health Department would not be able to provide an easy-to-read map that allows residents to choose the clinic that is closest and most convenient for them.
In the Spring of 2012, the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) contacted the Village of Skokie to participate in a graduate level course allowing Planning and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)students to get hands on experience working for a local government. After a few phone calls and meetings to discuss possible projects, the UIC class was tasked with collecting the locations of parking meters and street lights in the downtown area and providing a recommendation as to where pay stations could be located if the Village were to do away with single meters. After the 5 week course where the students acted as a consultant, the Village received the data, maps and analysis outlining the students work.
In the wake of last year’s power outages, the Village of Skokie has been working with ComEd to solidify the communication during outage events. On June 21, 2012 the Village, ComEd and other surrounding communities participated in disaster exercise aimed at testing the communication and response in the Village and with ComEd. The exercise, a simulated tornado, called for events ranging from gas leaks and fires to overturned tankers spilling fuel into the sewer system to looters. The Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) played a supporting role in the dissemination of information once events began to occur. Using a database to input the calls for service and MapOffice™ Advanced to display the information through Business Intelligence, the GIS Specialist was able to track events and gives decision makers more information to make better informed decisions.
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.
The Chicagoland area was battered with storms during the morning of June 21, 2011. The strong winds and lightning wrecked havoc regionally. During the aftermath, Public Safety in the Village of Skokie was busy taking reports of downed power lines, trees, damaged traffic signals and street lights. During disasters like this storm, it is highly effective to be able to map these locations in real time so at any one moment, Public Safety can pinpoint priorities and allocate the proper manpower.
Mapping falls in the realm of the Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS). By using the GIS, Village staff can enter address or street locations and easily associate the data with an actual spatial location. For example, the Village mapped out all locations of known trees or branches down following the storm. After placing these locations on a map, staff was able to allocate manpower to the high density areas. However, by analyzing the data spatially, the GIS can paint a picture of where the hardest hit areas are located without having to analyze The future of GIS in Emergency Management is evolving, and it is more important now than ever to be able to see real time data. It allows manpower to be distributed to the proper areas as well as provides the most accurate look into the current conditions.
While it may not occur as part of the day to day operations, an unfortunate reality for all local governments is the need to coordinate response and cleanup efforts as the result of an emergency event, such a severe storm or other natural disaster. To assist with tracking reported incidents as the result of a recent severe weather event, the Village of Winnetka, IL used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to store and display the incident locations during the event, as well map their locations to assist with the extensive cleanup efforts after the event took place.
Prior to using GIS to store and display the emergency event data, village staff would store the incident information in a variety of different mediums, including paper post-it notes, scarps of notebook paper, and non-standardized excel sheets, just to name a few. As a result, trying to coordinate response efforts was difficult, as post-its would get lost, pieces of paper would get thrown away, etc. In addition, without having a visual way to organize each incident location, departments would often duplicate efforts and send multiple response crews to deal with one incident, instead of distributing the available resources to maximize efficiency.
To help reduce these inefficiencies, the village GIS department provided a Structured Query Language (SQL) database with a Microsoft Access form front end that allowed staff to enter the information for each incident location as it was received in a standard format that could be easily accessed and reviewed by everyone involved in the response efforts. From the SQL database, each incident could be extracted and mapped in the village’s internet browser-based GIS application for all staff to see. Using this visual platform, the nature of the incident and its current status could be shared quickly across all departments, reducing redundancy and maximizing the effectiveness of each response crew.
The Skokie Park District in conjunction with the Village of Skokie hosts the Festival of Cultures. Over the years, it has become a premier ethnic festival in Illinois celebrating the food, music, and sports that define cultures throughout the world. This year will be the 21st for the festival. The Village of Skokie has a high presence during this festival and is working to promote downtown businesses during the event. The idea was to create a flyer to promote the Village’s downtown restaurants. To do this, the Village Manager’s office worked with the Village’s Geographic Information System to gather data and create a map showing all restaurants in the downtown area. The Village will be passing these out at their booth during the festival.
The Village of Skokie keeps track of a comprehensive land use database using standards set forth by the American Planning Association. The Land Based Classification Standards (LBCS) is a series of codes that defines the Function, Site, Structure, Activity, and Ownership of land. The Village has been diligently working to incorporate the land uses into its Geographic Information System(GIS). By integrating land use and GIS, the Village can better analyze and visualize where specific classifications of businesses are in geographic terms.
Business Intelligence, a tool in MapOffice™ Advanced, allows internal employees to search for specific land uses in a map interface. By linking databases and providing a web service on the backend, the GIS Department enables connections to any enterprise software that meets certain requirements. Since all GIS Consortium (GISC) communities do not use the same software, Business Intelligence uses properties to enable multiple types of data connections (SQL Server, ODBC, Access, etc). Since not all employees have access to the land use database, Business Intelligence was the best option to publish this data to employees.
The Village of Skokie’s state of the art Police Department houses the Village’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC). This center is utilized as a meeting destination for decision makers during an emergency event. The EOC is supported by generators during power outages and serve as a command center. Features of this center include two projectors with the ability to project eight inputs, power/data connections in the floor, and a partition that can split the room. Two kitchens, a supply room with cubbies for each department, and an adjoining conference room are just some of the additional amenities at the EOC.
In preparation for emergencies, the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Department has been working extensively with the Village’s Public Safety Consortium providing maps and spatial analysis. A street map of Skokie and the surrounding municipalities, as well as a damage assessment grid map were provided to be laminated and used during an emergency. The ability to connect to MapOffice and other GIS programs has been verified and tested in preparation for an EOC activation.
Emergency planning is a part of life. You have probably prepared for emergencies and not even realized it. It could be stocking up on extra pantry items before a blizzard or filling out an emergency contact form at your place of employment or child’s school. Though these are great examples of emergency preparedness, municipal government needs to reach much deeper. Preparing a home for an emergency is different than preparing 25,000 homes, businesses and schools for an array of natural and human disasters.
The Village of Skokie’s Fire Prevention Bureau is working with area schools to address a student relocation plan in case of an emergency. The Geographic Information System (GIS) department has been asked to assist in building routes to these relocation areas. By using routing, the Village’s Police and Fire Departments will know how both private and public schools transit to these temporary locations. The importance of the route is immense considering public safety could be inundated with calls and stretched thin. This way all parties know what the school’s plan is for an emergency.
Skokie is using its Geographic Information System (GIS) to aid in the bidding process for landscaped areas in the downtown area. The Village’s ability to create and manage data in addition to producing maps allows them to generate products quickly and efficiently. By creating maps of each landscaped area, the Village provides visual context to coincide with the documented extents of the service areas for the bidding contractors. In addition, these maps alleviate the need for Public Works employees to drive the contractors to each location. Having the work area limits documented both textually and visually assist both contractor and the Village in managing the service areas.
The Village of Skokie’s Human Services Department manages a program aimed at providing reserved on-street parking for residents with special needs. This program has certain guidelines depicting how many permits can be issued along certain lengths of roadway. The ordinance states:
“The number of reserved disability parking spaces on any 1 residential street shall not exceed 25 percent of the available parking spaces on each side of a block.”
The ordinance now has a geographic reference which enables the Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) to get involved. The Human Services director began a dialog to see if any residential street is in violation of the existing Village Code. By plotting the location of the Reserved Residential Parking Program participants and grouping addresses within close proximity, the GIS analyzed the data and found the Village to be in compliance with the Code.
The Village of Skokie Beautification and Improvement Commission assists the Mayor and Trustees in landscaping and conservation issues. Every year, the Commission seeks out properties whose owners maintain it at an exceptional level. During this time, the commission visits each nominated property, taking pictures and notes. The most time consuming part of this process is driving to all of these properties. That is where the Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) comes in.
By using a tool called Network Analyst, the Village’s GIS Specialist was able to map out all properties nominated for the award. In addition to just plotting dots on a map, the Network Analyst provides turn by turn directions to all properties. This alleviates pressure from the Village Forrester. In the past, the Forrester would plot all addresses by hand and manually draw a route. By creating a more efficient workflow, the Forrester is now able concentrate on other tasks rather than drawing these maps by hand.
The Village of Skokielinois Fire Department provides services to over 63,000 residents and is part of a Mutual Aid Agreement with surrounding communities. In order to provide the best possible service, Skokie’s Fire vehicles need to be equipped with detailed street maps outlining not only its own community, but the surrounding communities as well. For instance, if surrounding communities have low bridge clearances, one way streets, or other obstacles, the Village needs to know in order to proceed to the call safely and efficiently. The Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS ) provides this street map.
Coinciding with the street map, inset maps of highly populated areas are provided detailing hydrant locations, addresses and even unit numbers of large condominiums and apartment complexes. Parking lot layouts, curbs, and medians are also outlined to supply the most information to the Fire Department so more educated decisions can be made.
The Village of Skokie’s Geographic Information System (GIS) Team has been hard at work developing tools to increase productivity and simplify employee’s workflows related to geographic data. Through MapOffice™ Advanced, a customized web mapping application, Village employees have many tools aimed at extracting tabular data using geographic contents. This new tool, the Water Main Isolation Tool, is aimed at providing Village water maintenance crews the ability to find all water valves connected to a section of water main. Water crews can now simply click on a water main and find all connected valves eliminating field work and research. This in turn will save not only time, but also water during a main break which can become very messy during the winter months. In addition to showing connected valves, the tool documents affected water hydrants, which have importance if a fire were to break out in the vicinity during a main break.
Village water crews are very excited to use this new tool as they had said many good things during a demonstration last week. New tools are routinely published in MapOffice™ Advanced on a monthly basis.
The Village of Skokie’s Water and Sewer Department rely heavily on data within the Geographic Information System (GIS) for planning and field work. Field Note Mapbooks (FNM) were created to simplify the process of editing the data and bridge the gap between the field crews knowledge and the data projected in the Village’s GIS. Employees can make comments and corrections in the paper FNM and GIS will check the book on a quarterly basis to incorporate the changes. For example, if a valve is not shown or shown in the wrong location, an employee can draw and comment on the valve showing the correct location and providing all other important information. This process was just implemented and the first changes have been completed this month.
The Village of Skokie has begun the integration of streetlights into the Geographic Information System (GIS). GIS is a technology that relates geographic features with tabular data, allowing users to view data from a central repository rather than disconnected databases. The integration of street lights will be a key asset to the Village’s street light and sign post maintenance. During the next few years, the engineering department will be overseeing the installation of new halogen light bulbs, replacing the old mercury vapor. Having the ability the track installation dates will help maintenance crews and other support staff in the field. This information will be shown in MapOffice™ Advanced in the community.
Another benefit of having the streetlights reside in the GIS is having the owner of the specific pole or light at the click of a button. For example, if a resident calls to inform the Village a street light is out, Village employees will be able to find the owner, whether it is ComEd or the Village, with ease. By searching in MapOffice™ Advanced for this feature, the employee saves time from going to the paper as-built and trying to find the specific light or pole.
Overall, there are two major reasons why having street lights in the GIS will help the Village be more efficient. Tracking bulb installation and looking up ownership will save time from the old business processes. The Village is always looking for new ways to be more efficient and the GIS has been an important part of this process.
The year 2009 brought us the Novel Influenza A outbreak, commonly known as H1N1 or the swine flu. The Village of Skokie’s Geographic Information System (GIS) and Health Departments worked together to analyze vaccine recipients locations in proximity to the Village. Address and age information was gathered from every vaccine recipient and with this data we were able to visualize the true magnitude of the Village’s vaccination campaign. Due to the severity of the H1N1 influenza, the Village began an ambitious campaign to vaccinate all people in the priority group (39,000) who reside or go to school in the Village. During the last three months of 2009, they embarked on a vaccination campaign targeting school aged children first and then moving to other members of the priority group.
The Village's Health Department is one of six state certified local health departments in Cook County. Clinics were held in schools, daycares, and mass vaccination clinics during weekends. Due to a vaccination shortage, vaccines were given to anyone outside the Village's corporate limit ignoring jurisdictions during these mass clinics. Since this became a regional map, density was used to generalize areas of high concentration. In total, over 26,000 vaccines were given by the Village’s Health Department. Without the use of GIS, distance analysis could not have completed.
Address data is the backbone of the municipal government. Services, including refuse pickup and police and fire response, and taxes depend on current and accurate addressing. The Village of Skokie Community Development Department and Geographic Information System (GIS) staff have realized the importance of consolidating address databases in the recent months. A major factor in this decision was the difference in address data for a recent mass mailing.
Working together, the two departments have come up with new business processes to edit and create addresses in GIS. While this will save time and money in the long run, there has been a large time commitment in data entry and will have more time committed to training Community Development staff in the future.
This is just one example of how GIS can be leveraged. Instead of multiple departments tracking the same data, a central repository of data (GIS) can be viewed throughout the organization. By editing the data in one location, it limits errors and reduces the overall time needed to maintain the data. IT just makes sense.
The Village of Skokie has progressively added new users, taking advantage of the Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS). While adding users is key to the success of the GIS Program, new users have a learning curve for the new applications and software whether it be ArcView™ or MapOffice™ Advanced. Training and demonstrations can alleviate many of the questions and issues users have with interacting with the new technology.
Unlike GIS Professionals, the Village’s users do not necessarily use the GIS applications every day. Without the constant use, the processes can sometimes be forgotten and steps are by-passed. These problems can be eliminated by more frequent training and updates. The Village is now constructing a plan that will increase the training for ArcView users which will in turn increase the information at their finger tips. Likewise, demonstrations for MapOffice™ will occur more frequently, allowing a broad group of users to interact with the application.
Training is essential to fully optimize and understand how the new technology can help the users in their workflows. Understanding the processes and steps will eliminate the time needed to navigate the application and gather a final product.
Nearly everything in life is related to location. Whether you are looking for a new job closer to home, a beach vacation or your set of missing car keys, everything is correlated to space and location. Geography is heavily associated with location and in recent history has become a staple in people’s everyday workflow. Google Maps StreetView, Bing Bird’s Eye View, MapQuest, and other mapping sites have created a niche in mainstream America that allows people to access geographic information (street names, directions, aerial photography) at the push of a button. This is the basis of Geographic Information System (GIS).
GIS creates an environment that harnesses geographic and tabular data and combines them to better understand the information. This is especially important in local government with its defined boundaries, parcels, ordinances, signage and infrastructure. Paper maps and plans become digital and easier to consume and share via the internet or by electronic document. GIS also has the framework to be a centralized data center and can be incorporated by every department in a useful manner. With data consumption increasing at an exponential rate, the need to associate data with a geographic feature has increased as well. Whether it is crimes on a certain street, creating a mailing list within 500 feet of a certain address, or showing the direction of flow for a sewer line, GIS can create a better understanding of the spatial environment surrounding the decision makers. GIS is spatial technology. GIS is location.
Emergencies happen when we least expect them which is why it is so important to be prepared. Situations arise in communities that, with the right preparations, can be easily contained and remedied. The Village of Skokie has a Geographic Information System (GIS) that incorporates mapping and analysis to better understand and prepare for emergencies.
Working with the Village’s Fire Chief, who heads the emergency management team, the GIS Specialist was able to create zones for damage assessments to be used in the field after a disaster takes place. This product was initially used during a training exercise in which a simulated tornado made its way through the village. Search grids help the field crew by limiting and defining their area to search. A map of the specific grid is given to the field worker who then searches and documents locations of damage and other obstructions. The final damage assessment is sent back to the emergency operations center to be reviewed.
GIS has given the emergency management team another angle in preparing for emergencies. Mapping software has been installed on laptops for mobile use and large poster size maps were printed for visual aides. Preparation is crucial to sustaining and overcoming any emergency and GIS provides an extra tool to help that process.
Crime happens. Crimes are committed randomly, deliberately, while others are just crimes of opportunity. The Village of Skokie’s Police Department has been using Geographic Information System (GIS) to better understand where and when crimes are committed. By using geographic analysis, the Police Department can identify hotspots of criminal activity.
Geographic analysis of crimes helps the police department classify and patrol certain areas that generally have more crime. By mapping crimes the police can visually see clusters of like offenses. Skokie also has a tool in the Police Department that bridges the gap between the Crime database and mapping by creating a file that is easily used in the Village’s GIS, already populated with crimes. This eliminates time needed for the GIS Specialist or Police Department to format a spreadsheet of crimes to be used in the mapping process. Streamlining the process enables the police to use the most current data while using the least amount of time to accomplish their goal.
In the end, mapping and analyzing crimes helps the police better understand what goes on in the community. By finding clusters and hotspots, the police can patrol higher risk areas to better deter criminal activity.
Data comes in all shapes and sizes in a local government. Communities are the keeper of extensive data that pertains to buildings, infrastructure, businesses and the like. It is important for communities to use this data to the fullest extent, and MapOffice™ provides a way to do so. Data in MapOffice™ is visible but cannot be extracted into individual features. When other communities or contractors want information, it is necessary to provide a baseline of what is expected during this data transaction.
The Village of Skokie’s Geographic Information System (GIS) has over 100 layers of data to update and keep current. Through analysis, the GIS can provide answers to many questions and is a very reliable source of information. With this said, Skokie protects it’s data by creating data sharing argreements that must be signed by the participating parties in order for data to be shared. If data sharing agreements were not administered, data that Skokie has in its GIS would be compromised. The most important part of the agreement is to document what the data will be used for and to let the requestor know that the data is not their property and is confidential - they cannot reproduce or share the data. If data sharing was not used, Skokie’s data could be copied, reproduced and shared without any knowledge of the Village. The data would then be in the public domain where the data would lose its validity and become compromised.
In the end, data sharing agreements help the Village of Skokie track outside entities, including vendor’s and contractor’s use of data. This ensures the safety of the Village’s data and limits the use of the data to the specific project that it was issued for.
For years, data has been stored in file cabinets, basements and employee’s heads in the form of institutional knowledge. This was not necessarily a bad thing; the technology just was not available. Now that the movement to a digital world has begun, the transition has seemed slow at times. Having paper documents around is just the norm in an everyday workflow. But what if the information is not directly in front of you? Moving paper data to electronic databases has saved time and money for private and public entities across the world.
Databases used in Geographic Information System (GIS) are the single most important entity of the system. GIS databases use a technology to relate to each other enabling the system to complete complex analysis and queries. In order to keep up with the demand of data, maintenance needs to be completed on these databases on a regular basis.
GIS uses data in the form of tables. These tables are then linked physical geographic locations which come in points, lines, or polygons. For example, a point on a map might look just like a point on a map to the non-GIS person. But behind that point on the map might lie address, parcel, or ownership data which is linked to that specific point. These data tables are the backbone of GIS.
As long as the data is quality, meaning that it is properly created from a reputable source, it is useable. The data is only as good as the person who creates it. Taking time to make sure all fields are filled in and that no data is lost in translation is necessary. GIS allows data to be located in one centralized location and dispersed throughout the organization.
Paper data and maps are becoming a thing of the past. Movement to a digital world has begun and will save time and money in the long run. Web-based applications and maps have begun to shape our world in ways that have not yet been documented. This is a new phenomenon that relies heavily on the data behind the application.
Without reliable data, GIS would not be able to achieve what it has in the short amount of time it has been around.
The Village of Skokie trustees recently voted to decrease landscape waste pickup service for the entire village. While not eliminating the service all together, the village decided that residents must call or sign up via the village website to receive brush pickup. In addition, the village would no longer pick up landscape waste. The village is now promoting the mulching of grass since it no longer accepts grass during curbside pick up.
Leading up to this decision, the Village Manager’s Office was in contact with the Geographic Information System (GIS) Specialist who recommended a few different options for producing maps of addresses that will be serviced. During these conversations, it was concluded that creating a route for each service zone would be most beneficial.
First, the village was cut into service zones – areas that offered opportunity for continuous movement and areas where no major street needed to be crossed. The Refuse Superintendent, Paul Brzozowski with help from the GIS Specialist, created the zones. After the zones were completed, it was necessary to determine if the final product would be a map, a spreadsheet with addresses or both. It was concluded that a map for each zone and a document containing each address with its associated zone would be best.
The Village of Skokie GIS Specialist then worked to automate the workflow used in creating final product. This was completed by using a model with parameters (addresses and zones). The GIS Specialist, with the help of Jan Teisinger, GIS Analyst for MGP Inc, was able to create a model that performed over an hour’s worth of manual work in about ten minutes by automating the process. In addition to automating the bulk of the data work, exporting the maps to PDF was automated. A map book was created to export all maps in series, thus eliminating time needed to do this task manually. Both of these automations decreased the time needed for the Brush Routing project by over 50%.
In the end, the Brush Routing process has become easier and faster as time goes by. Over 600 service addresses can now be loaded into the GIS and a final product can be rendered in 30-45 minutes. This process keeps evolving and continues to produce quality products for the end user. Using GIS, the village has kept its Brush Pickup service while eliminating extra driving costs associated with areas that do not require service.
The Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Skokie opened its doors to the public in April 2009. Dignitaries from around the world attended the opening, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton as the keynote speaker. The opening ceremonies were attended by an estimated 12,000 people. Planning for an event like this is a difficult endeavor because timing, placement and communication all need to be shared throughout each participating agency.
The Village of Skokie’s Geographic Information System (GIS) played and integral part during security planning for this event. After meeting with members of the Village’s Police and Fire Department, it was determined that using the Village’s GIS would be beneficial to Public Safety by providing detailed imagery of the location with strategic locations of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Police personnel overlaid on the imagery. Local, county, state, and federal agencies were all involved in this event creating the need for impeccable communication. Coordinating loading zones, parking, street closures, and agency responsibility is where GIS became involved. Highlighting each specific agency’s position and being able to overlay it on the aerial photograph proved beneficial in planning this event. Large maps were produced and handed out to each agency during the planning phase and for use during the event.
Event planning is not a simple task. When crowds reach into the thousands, safety becomes a major concern. GIS allowed the Skokie Police and Fire Departments to provide and share a wealth of information to their county, state and federal counterparts, creating a safe environment while preparing for the worst case scenarios.
The cycle of weather in the Chicagoland area results in an instability that catches up with communities in the spring. Cleaning up after the harsh winter that batters the roadways and underlying water and sewer utilities can be a very demanding task. Every year streets are resurfaced and water mains are broken and then replaced. These tasks seem simple to the public: village crews go out, dig up the pavement, and replace it. What the public may not realize is the planning that is involved and the analysis which is provided by the Skokie Geographic Information System Department (GIS).
By using GIS, the Village of Skokie’s Public Works Department now has the ability to analyze their street, water and sewer data. Because Skokie’s infrastructure is heavily stressed by the freeze and thaw cycle during the winter months, maintenance of the infrastructure begins during the spring. Data kept by the water and sewer department serves as the base analysis carried out by the GIS department. Water main breaks are plotted and color coded by year to allow the user to easily identify areas containing a high density of breaks. In addition to plotting water main breaks, the mains are categorized by year of installation and color coded as well.
Combined and storm sewers are also found in the infrastructure analysis. These sewers are rehabbed and are categorized by a rating system. By using this system, public works can easily track the locations and years in which the work was completed, eliminating the need to use paper documents such as as-builts or other technical drawings. This is also true for street resurfacing. Keeping data simple and accessible provides critical information to the decision makers of the community.
Users of GIS benefit from the technology’s ability to transform data in table format to spatial locations plotted on a map, while keeping the attributes of the table. GIS creates an environment that can easily analyze geographic data and help facilitate decision making. By keeping records of water main breaks, sewer rehabilitation, and street resurfacing, the Village of Skokie can locate and analyze areas with ease.
The Village of Skokie Manager’s Office recently approached the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department with the idea of creating a map of the downtown area in order to highlight the local businesses and restaurants. This project started as a basic map depicting major streets and the shopping zones on those streets in the downtown area. As the project began to take shape, the GIS Department suggested going in a slightly different direction and using a Keyhole Markup Language (KML) file to give the public a way to locate attractions in the village. A KML is a file to be used in conjunction with Google mapping applications such as Google MapsTM and Google EarthTM. For this particular project the village decided that Google MapsTM was the better application over Google EarthTM simply because every internet connection could access the file rather than having to download and install the Google EarthTM software.
The base of the project was the underlying data from which the GIS Department was able to create the KML. Data is created by first producing an Excel spreadsheet with certain attributes such as address, business name and type and phone number. This table is then is then run through a GIS process called geocoding which essentially means to place this information onto a map using the address of each location. Each point, now at the proper spatial location, still retains its original attributes from the spreadsheet such as the business name and phone number. Once these points have been created in the GIS they then get transferred into KML file using another GIS function where the end result is a useable file for GoogleTM applications.
The KML makes information about restaurants, entertainment and art in the village readily available to the public via the internet. Since GoogleTM is a free mapping application, the data that is placed in the Google MapsTM comes at no additional cost to the village. While the idea of using GIS data in GoogleTM is relatively new it is still amazing to see how far technology has come to simplify processes such as these and obtain an end result that helps the local community better serves their residents and customers.
Through the years, technology has played an important role in the way we conduct business by increasing productivity, saving time and in the end saving money. Public Works has recently discussed an idea to incorporate Geographic Information System (GIS) as a tool to aide contractors who provide service to turf areas within the village. The reasoning behind this project is evident; every year a Public Works employee has to take approximately three days to show the contractor all areas in town that are required to be sprayed. In order to alleviate the task of driving through the Village to monitor these spraying assignments a map was created to depict all designated locations to be sprayed, thus eliminating the time necessary to escort the contractor from spray site to spray site.
For this project the first order of business was to locate all spray areas. Using aerial photography as a base and other GIS layers, including sidewalks, roads, parking lots and buildings, the GIS was able to create spray areas very accurately. From here, initial areas were created by referencing addresses and further revised in subsequent meetings with employees having institutional knowledge. After the area boundaries had been finalized, each area was designated a classification based on when it would be sprayed. This allowed for each classification to be represented by a different symbol when the map was produced, permitting the viewer to easily depict which areas need to be sprayed at certain times.
The high accuracy of data created the opportunity to generate estimates based on square footage for each area. With this data, the ability to check the contractor’s estimate in depth is now available. Having this product available to assist in the location of spray areas alleviates the necessity to escort the contractor and depicts how GIS was able to work with the Public Works Department to make a project more efficient.