Entries by Ana Grahovac

Improving Accessibility to Data with Business Intelligence

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To better understand why certain types of crime are concentrated in different parts of the village, the Village of Woodridge, IL Police Department was looking for a way to show the locations of the current calls for service, as well as information from their police database, in a spatial environment. While creating a static map product periodically would have been one option, a more dynamic option would be to integrate this data into the village’s web-based mapping application, MapOffice™, using Business Intelligence. Business Intelligence allows the police department to view these different data sources dynamically, side-by-side on a map and visualize trends that may not be readily apparent when looking at the data in a spreadsheet or other tabular format. 

Business Intelligence is a technology that allows connections to be made to a variety of data sources that include spreadsheets, databases, dispatch systems, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. The Woodridge police department benefits from this type of connection since their service call data and police database are stored in different places. Now, when police staff use MapOffice™, they can see multiple data sources together, including call data, locations where illegal property trespasses have occurred, and where patrolling location of interest are located. Officers can also access this information in the field using laptops in their patrol cars.

Business Intelligence connections in MapOffice™ is a powerful technology that allows multiple sources of data to be integrated into a single location, which can provide deeper insight into common questions.

Published: 10/17/2014 2:08 PM
Title: Improving Accessibility to Data with Business Intelligence

Using GIS to Delineate Disputed Fire District Boundaries

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The Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company provides the fire protection services to the Village of Glen Ellyn, IL as well as its surrounding unincorporated areas. Over the years there has been some dispute and confusion over whose jurisdiction some of the unincorporated parcels actually belong to. This dispute could lead to a potentially life threatening situation if an emergency happens in a disputed area where the dispatch center does not have the correct department information for a property. To assist with resolving some of these jurisdiction issues, the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department was consulted to help with determining the correct jurisdiction that these border parcels belong in.

GIS used a variety of resources in helping to determine the correct jurisdiction for each parcel. Using tax information provided by DuPage County, the borders of the response areas were redrawn to match the taxing body. The county data did have its limitations though. One difficulty with having a volunteer fire department is that residents within the district do not have a fire protection tax on their property tax bill, resulting in the county not being able to confirm that some of these unincorporated areas were in the Glen Ellyn fire district.   To get around this issue, a special service area was created in 2009 for all unincorporated parcels within the Glen Ellyn fire district, so that list was cross-referenced with the county data to provide an accurate picture for the boundary. Once this information was updated in the village GIS data, meetings were held between the Glen Ellyn Fire Company and neighboring fire districts to compare shared borders and work out any other possible indiscretions.

The final GIS data and printed map product were provided to DuPage Public Safety Communications (DU-COMM) where their dispatch system will be updated accordingly. This project helped more than thirty parcels get updated with the correct fire district information, resulting in more reliable fire protection for those properties. Using GIS saved a tremendous amount of time bringing all the taxing resources into one location making it easy to see where changes needed to be made.

Published: 10/17/2014 1:43 PM
Title: Using GIS to Delineate Disputed Fire District Boundaries

Deerfield Cemetery Searchable Map

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The Village of Deerfield, IL Cemetery contains the burials site of many of the founding members of the community and other influential citizens that have resided within the boundaries of Deerfield over the history of the community. Up until recently, the only way to find information regarding burial locations in the cemetery was to go to the Deerfield Historical Society and view paper documents and books in various states of condition and quality.  To help make this information more accessible, the Deerfield Cemetery Association and the village’s Community Development department worked with the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department to provide a spatial solution to locating burial plots within the cemetery.   

Historical information such as burial location, historical accounts, and veteran status were collected and standardized so they could be easily integrated into the GIS environment.  All of this data was added to an online map application that allowed the burial plot locations to be viewed in conjunction with an aerial image of the cemetery. To make the information easier to access, a function was added to the map that allows for users to search for any person buried in the cemetery by section, birthdate, day of death, or by any part of their name.  By exposing this information in a spatial environment, the residents of Deerfield and genealogy researchers now have a tool to open up a new world of data. This map will also continue to evolve as more information and research are added to the online application.

Published: 10/17/2014 12:56 PM
Title: Deerfield Cemetery Searchable Map

Village of Mundelein Launches Community Portal

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The Village of Mundelein, IL recently added a Property Search function to the main page of their community website that allows residents to type in an address and get directed to a property information application called Community Portal. Community Portal makes looking up property information quick and easy. When an address is entered into the Property Search window, Community Portal launches and redirects to that property’s “Property Summary” page, which contains information regarding zoning, voting precinct information, and much more. In addition to “Property Summary”, there are other tabs that can be added to the Community Portal interface, which is completely customizable based on the community’s needs.  What makes Community Portal so different from traditional, map-based address search applications is that, while the information returned for a property is being served up from a Geographic Information Systems (GIS) database, it’s being displayed in a text based environment without the necessity of a map.  While the option exists within Community Portal to display a property on a map, often times it’s the information associated with an address that is most important to whoever is initiating the search.  Simplifying how this information is displayed, and the ease of use of the search function, is what makes Community Portal so beneficial to Mundelein.

As Mundelein begins to understand what information the public is looking for, Community Portal will continue to develop and grow.  As stated earlier, it is completely customizable based on the community’s needs, which is how the village will continue to move forward with its goal of being more transparent with the information that it provides to the public.  There is more to come with Community Portal in Mundelein, so stay tuned!

Published: 9/25/2014 9:43 AM
Title: Village of Mundelein Launches Community Portal

GIS Supports Hydrant Flushing Efforts

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The Village of Mundelein, IL conducts annual hydrant maintenance in which the Public Works Department’s Water Division flushes each hydrant and creates a list of hydrants that need repair.  After the flushing and maintenance is complete, the Water Division submits a report describing which hydrants where flushed and which hydrants were repaired.  Previously, to track progress through the village, the Water Division would print out paper map pages created in CAD and highlight the streets with a maker as a way to indicate the areas they have worked on.  In 2014, they asked the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) office to create a simple map book, with a page created for each area that they were planning to work in, to make it easier for them to locate hydrants and track progress.

Using Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop software, the GIS office staff created this book, with each flushing area shown on 1-3 pages, with only the hydrants for each specific flushing area shown.  A unique ID for each hydrant was also displayed on the individual map pages to allow staff to match a hydrant in the field to hydrant records in a corresponding Excel worksheet being updated with the information for each hydrant that was gathered during the flushing process.  These cleaner looking and functional maps made locating the hydrants much easier than in the past.  In addition to creating products to help locate the hydrants, the Director of Public Works requested that the GIS office also create a map once all work was completed showing which hydrants were flushed and repaired based on the final reports submitted by the Water Division flushing crews.  This map was easily created using the existing map pages created for the hydrant locating map book and can be used moving forward to assist with planning future hydrant flushing work.

Using GIS, the Water Division now has a good visual tool for tracking hydrant flushing progress.  They are also able to enhance their hydrant flushing reporting process by adding a graphic component that shows where the work was done and where they may need to focus their maintenance efforts in future years.

Published: 9/25/2014 8:58 AM
Title: GIS Supports Hydrant Flushing Efforts

Open Field Available Parking

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The Village of Oak Brook, IL often holds events that exceed the limits of conventional parking lots, forcing them to find parking in alternate locations.  Recently the Oak Brook Park District was holding an event where the expected crowd was projected to exceed the amount of available parking within their lots, which would result in staff needing to direct people to park on soccer fields located north of their main buildings.  Park District staff worked with the Police department to determine how to direct traffic and what the maximum capacity of the soccer fields would be.  In an effort to provide an accurate determination of not only how much available parking there was, but also what a good lot configuration would be, the Police department requested help from the Geographic Information System (GIS) department to analyze and map available parking within the open soccer fields.

Using aerial imagery, property lines, and elevation data, the GIS staff first determined the boundaries available for parking, to insure they stayed on Park District property and to make sure the parking was not on too steep of an incline.  Next, a standard size parking space was created and duplicated across the available parking area, leaving room for consistent driving lanes and entrance/exit locations.  Finally, a total count of parking spaces was calculated from the data, with the bi-product being a map displaying the location of the parking lot and its spaces, entrance and exits, and the lot’s location relative to the Park District property lines. 

By using GIS, the police department received not only an accurate parking space count, but also a map that can be used for coordinating and promoting the parking process.  Using GIS also allowed this process to be completed in the matter of a couple of hours and in a far more accurate format that walking off parking space dimensions and distances in the field.

Published: 9/24/2014 2:10 PM
Title: Open Field Available Parking

Mapping out a Community-Wide Garage Sale in Schiller Park

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As the weather gets warmer, garage sales start popping up all across communities in the Chicagoland area. The Village of Schiller Park, IL made the decision to have a community-wide garage sale to bring people to the Village and generate interest in community events as the summer comes to a close. The Village gets dozens of residents signing up to have garage sales each year and the Village even provides space to be rented out at the Community Center parking lot to those who are unable to have one at their residences.  Given the scope of this event and its importance to the village, staff wanted to provide an easy-to-use, visual resource for identifying where all the sales are at for both residents and visitors alike.

To assist those who want to visit each garage sale, Schiller Park wanted to provide a list of all the sale participants and a corresponding map to display on their website and distribute to the public. To create this map, the village turned to the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department.  To create this map, an Excel spreadsheet of the final list of garage sale participant locations was sent to GIS and a map displaying all of the addresses identified in the list was created. To ensure the map was available to the widest audience possible, it was posted on both the Village website and made available for pick up at Village Hall or other community buildings.

By creating a visual aid using GIS to supplement the existing participant list, the village was able to provide an additional layer of service to those interested in visiting the sale locations, especially those that are not from the village and are unfamiliar with where certain addresses are at. 

Published: 9/23/2014 10:45 AM
Title: Mapping out a Community-Wide Garage Sale in Schiller Park

Revealing Detailed Property Tax information with MapOffice™

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The Village of Woodridge, IL regularly receives questions from residents related to property taxes.   Whether this is related to understanding their tax bill or where their money is going, these questions can be answered more effectively with a visualization that residents can understand and that staff can easily explain.  It was this need that initiated the development of a custom layer for the village’s online mapping application, MapOffice™, which would allow a resident to see a full breakdown of their property tax information.

This custom layer was developed by the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department using tax information provided by DuPage County and Will County that consists of the tax rate owed to each taxing body by tax code.  This information was combined with parcel data that was also provided by the county and charted.  The end result is a custom layer that allows a resident to click on a parcel and see their total tax rate, as well as a chart that shows the composition of this total tax rate by the tax rate of each taxing body.  This allows users to easily find differences in taxing from one property to the next, and to understand how these differences are attributed to taxing districts.  This custom layer can also be used as a tool for village staff to reference when answering questions related to property taxes.

Published: 9/23/2014 8:45 AM
Title: Revealing Detailed Property Tax information with MapOffice™

Business Intelligence Launches in Northbrook

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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

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​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