Entries by Ana Grahovac

Modeling Retention Pond Capacities


Managing storm water is a major issue for all GIS Consortium communities.  When a recent home improvement was proposed in a small subdivision of the Village of Northbrook, engineers were concerned about the ability of the retention ponds for that subdivision to hold increased storm runoff.  Engineering contacted GIS to help determine the capacity or volume of water the two retention ponds can hold.

GIS was able to used contour data and as-built drawings to model the slopes and depths of the retention ponds.  That data was then converted to a Raster, a GIS feature used to model elevation as seen in the image above, which can then be used to perform complex analysis.

Using the GIS Consortium shared resource, Spatial Analyst Extension, GIS was able to utilize tools that analyze the elevation raster and calculate volumes and surface areas at given elevations.  GIS was then able to provide engineering staff with the retention pond capacities (volumes) at many different elevation levels.  The retention pond capacities could then be compared with impervious surface calculations and projected runoff volumes to determine if the ponds can handle the additional water load. 

The retention pond capacity study completed by GIS provided engineering with useful and accurate information that otherwise would have been taken many hours of hand calculations perform.  The data provided allowed engineering staff to make the best possible decisions regarding home improvements and storm water runoff.

Published: 11/6/2014 8:43 AM
Title: Modeling Retention Pond Capacities

Retention Pond Mapping


Retention ponds can play a vital role in storm water management and flood control.  The Northbrook Public Works Department worked with GIS in order to help map and track the retention ponds in the Village.  Previously, a spreadsheet with an address was used to track the location of retention ponds.  Public Works wanted to ability to visualize these locations on a map while still maintaining the information available through the spreadsheet.

So, what is the purpose of tracking retention pond locations and what information is valuable to know about them?  First, it was very important for Public Works to know the locations of the outfalls.  During heavy rain events, the outfalls can become backed up and prevent water from flowing as designed.  It is important that the outfalls become cleared quickly.  By mapping those locations as a custom overlay on MapOfficeTM Public Works can then spend less time looking for outfalls and get them cleared sooner.

Public Works also tracks who is responsible for retention ponds and clearing any blockages.  When a call comes in about a blockage, Public Works can easily see who is responsible and notify the caller if it is a private retention pond.  The custom overlay will also be available to the public so they can gather this information themselves. 

Other Village departments can also benefit from the tracking of the retention ponds, especially in the centralized location of MapOffice.  Engineering can store information such as pond volume or hyperlinks to drawings.  The Fire Department can track depths in the case divers are needed during missing person searches.

Published: 11/6/2014 8:41 AM
Title: Retention Pond Mapping

Locate Your Polling Station


It is election season once again, and the frequency of residents contacting their community leaders for polling place locations will undoubtedly increase.  Generally this information is made available to the public in a static format, such as a paper document or map. The document will notify the voter of where polling stations are located and perhaps the precinct boundaries, but which is the nearest voting station and what precinct do you reside in? All of these questions can be answered in one application; Community Portal.

Community Portal is a user friendly GIS powered application that presents useful information that every resident within a community would find useful. When you search for an address within a community it will identify all of property information unique to that address. If a resident is intending to educate themselves before the election, Community Portal will provide information on all of their state and federal representatives along with the address of the nearest polling station. This information is dynamic, current and can always be relied on for its accuracy. The Village of Wheeling is discovering this is an easy way to conserve time and educate their community.

Published: 10/31/2014 8:27 AM
Title: Locate Your Polling Station

ArcGIS Online Pavement Marking Collection



The City of Des Plaines has been looking to create an inventory of the city owned pavement markings.  In the past, they’ve had workers use aerial imagery in the office or paper maps out in the field to update the information.  Unfortunately, the aerial imagery is not always current and sending people out in the field with paper maps can be time consuming when the data is brought back into the office and has to be implemented into the database by hand.  The Engineering Department has been looking for a way to collect the information out in the field and update the databases without having to use paper maps.

A project was created in ESRI’s ArcGIS Online program that allows the user to collect pavement marking information in the field using the Collector Mobile Application.  The Collector Application allows the user to add in pavement marking lines and accompanying attribute information in the field using a mobile device like an iPad or Android Tablet.  The application has the aerial imagery and base map data for the city, so the user can place pavement marking features in the exact location regardless of imagery vintage.  This eliminates the need to collect the information in the field on paper and then bring it back into the office to have someone manually update the information in the GIS system.  With the Collector Application, the updates are either synched in real-time out in the field or loaded into the system in a one step process in the office.  By using GIS, the Engineering department was able to come up with a solution for updating pavement marking data in the field, eliminating the need for someone to collect the information in the field and then manually update the information.

Published: 10/7/2014 8:09 AM
Title: ArcGIS Online Pavement Marking Collection

Business Intelligence Launches in Northbrook



The Village of Northbrook has recently launched the MapOffice Web Access tool called Business Intelligence.  Business Intelligence is a tool that allows users to filter and display live data from community or custom databases. 

Three attributes of Business Intelligence, filtering, visualization, and live data, make it a very powerful tool.  Business Intelligence allows users to visualize data on a map by plotting that data by address or XY coordinates.  Many times, community databases or software do not have great ways to display the wealth of data they hold.  Business Intelligence helps solve this problem by connecting to those databases and displaying the data on MapOffice so users can gain further incite about the data or look for trends.

When looking for trends it is sometimes necessary to manipulate how you view the data.  Business Intelligence permits the user to filter the data by date and/or a field within the data.  For example, Northbrook has set up a connection to a custom home foreclosure database that allows users to filter foreclosures by date and the foreclosure status.  Now the user can narrow the data that is displayed to show only what they are interested in.

Finally, Business Intelligence offers live connections to the databases.  This can be extremely powerful as users can view and analyze data held in the database as it is updated without having to wait for data to be uploaded to MapOffice.

The Village of Northbrook looks forward to taking advantage of this useful and powerful tool by connecting to community databases and software such as FireHouse, an ERP system, and many others to come.

Published: 9/2/2014 11:04 AM
Title: Business Intelligence Launches in Northbrook

Northbrook Maps Fiber Network US GIS


​The Village of Northbrook has many utility systems and features that it maintains and tracks.  One such system is the fiber optic network.  Fiber optic cable has been laid throughout the Northbrook to provide fast and secure internet and communication for both Village and other governmental agency buildings.  While not all of the fiber network is owned and maintained by the Village it is necessary to keep track of its location to prevent damage during construction work or for repairs and maintenance.  For these reasons GIS was asked to assist in entering, maintaining, and providing maps for locates.  To complete this project the GIS specialists combined imported CAD data from the Village and field notes from the JULIE locator to enter the most up to date fiber location information possible.  After being reviewed by Public Works staff, a custom overlay was created and added to MapOffice Web Access detailing overhead vs underground, status, and ownership of the lines.  Also included are the locations of hand holes, poles, and splice points.  By making this map available on the MapOffice web application, staff in the field doing JULIE locates can easily pull up the information on their field laptops for use as well as send updates and additions using the ‘Markup’ tool from the field.  Additionally, maintaining this utility network in GIS provides the Northbrook IT department with a clear picture of where their important fiber optic assets are located across the Village, and can be used to help locate outages if they occur.

Published: 9/2/2014 11:02 AM
Title: Northbrook Maps Fiber Network US GIS

North Shore Gas Address Review and Confirmation



Recently the Village of Glencoe received a request from North Shore Gas to complete an address audit, in which the addresses in the North Shore Gas list would be compared to the Glencoe addresses on file. Without GIS, this would need to be done by hand using simple technology such as excel or access but would consist of manual comparison work. This would take hours to complete from staff and was not efficient. With GIS, a new way of comparing data can be completed.

From the request of North Shore Gas, the Finance Department requested if an address comparison could be completed using GIS. This could not only be completed in GIS, but in a much more time efficient way. Through GIS, addresses in the North Shore Gas list can be spatially located and then compared to see if it matches a GIS address. A small amount of manual comparison was needed based on apartment/unit differences but was vastly sped up using GIS. Without GIS, this process of address comparisons would take a large amount of time.

Published: 9/2/2014 11:00 AM
Title: North Shore Gas Address Review and Confirmation

3D Modeling Aids Decision Making



3D mapping is a relatively underutilized aspect of GIS in local government.  The Village of Northbrook was recently able to use 3D mapping when considering two options for an intersection improvement.  One option included the construction of new curbs to adjust the traffic pattern.  The other option called for orange road delineators to direct traffic in place of curb construction.  The road delineators would be the less expensive option but there were concerns from Village staff about the appearance of a permanent road delineator installation. 

This is where GIS was contacted and asked if there was a way to model the intersection in 3D to better understand how the intersection would look with permanent road delineators.  We were able to take advantage of the ESRI 3D Analyst extension, a shared resource available through GIS Consortium, which can be used to create and view scenes in 3D.  Using road delineator specifications and accurate GIS data such as roads and buildings, GIS was able to create a 3D model relatively accurate to scale.  GIS was then able to provide engineers and decision makers with multiple views and angles including bird’s eye and profile views of what the intersection would look like.

The 3D intersection model can now be used by decision makers to weigh the costs and benefits of the road delineator option by comparing both the associated construction or maintenance costs and visual appearances.    

Published: 8/12/2014 7:04 AM
Title: 3D Modeling Aids Decision Making

GIS supports Village Commission in goal to make Northbrook more ‘bicycle-friendly”



There are a number of Boards and Commissions within the Village of Northbrook that allow for residential leadership and input on various community topics.  One such group is the Northbrook Bicycle Task Force who works “…to coordinate all bicycle-related initiatives within the community and to review the need for access to bicycle transportation on behalf of the Village…to determine the existing needs, and to make recommendations to make the Village of Northbrook more ‘bicycle-friendly”

The Northbrook Bicycle Task Force approached GIS to help create an online map that residents could use to easily view the recommended and available routes throughout the Village.  GIS was able to digitize the majority of the routes from a paper map that was created for the Task Force by the League of Illinois Bicyclists which ranked the routes by comfort level.  Next, additional trails and information were added based on review by the Task Force members before the map was added to the Village’s online interactive mapping application, MapOffice, for public viewing as a custom overlay.  Also included on the map are difficult intersections, trails, bike rack locations, emergency service buildings, schools, Metra stations, and public facilities for reference.  Now residents are able to easily access and learn more about biking in the Village of Northbrook at their convenience.  Additionally, GIS was able to create a letter sized paper map for the Bicycle Task Force to distribute at various community events they participate in such as the Earth and Arbor Day Celebration.

Published: 8/12/2014 7:02 AM
Title: GIS supports Village Commission in goal to make Northbrook more ‘bicycle-friendly”

Celebrating the Fourth of July



The Village of Northbrook has enjoyed a Fourth of July celebration every year since 1949.  Events include a parade, pancake breakfast, rubber ducky race, and of course, fireworks.  Past years the Village had put together static maps displaying the parade route.  This year, GIS was contacted to create a dynamic, interactive, online map to promote the celebration and provide attendees with more event information.

GIS worked with the Public Works Department and the Fourth of July Planning Committee to create a map that not only displays the locations of events but provides information.  Users can click on an event to open a pop-up window with event details and times as well as a picture from last year’s event.  Users can also take advantage of hyperlinks to go directly to the website of the event host for even more details.

Northbrook Fire Department wanted to use the opportunity of an interactive map to display information regarding public safety for the events.  GIS mapped the locations of emergency medical services, fireworks restricted areas, and available fireworks parking. 

The interactive online map was a great option for promoting the celebration to attendees as well as supplying them with up to date information in a very accessible and easy to use format.

Published: 8/12/2014 7:00 AM
Title: Celebrating the Fourth of July