How can communities determine the balance between having too many and too few liquor licenses in a certain area? Many communities are faced with this challenge. If they allow too many businesses to sell alcohol, they risk stretching their policing resources too thin. If they allow too few, they risk alienating future business. Mundelein recently tackled this concern with an innovative new way to visualize their liquor license data.
A Traditional Approach
Like many communities, Mundelein used to track businesses with liquor licenses in a spreadsheet, an excellent approach for managing information, but not for visualizing it. For instance, a spreadsheet only allows the user to view an address, but not the physical location of the property. So the user might accidently issue a liquor license to a business that is too close to a prohibited location, such as a religious building. To prevent situations like this one, the community decided to innovate their liquor license tracking process.
A Better Understanding
To improve upon the current situation, Community Development and GIS collaborated to discuss mapping the location of liquor licenses in the Village utilizing an interactive map called a custom overlay, which is available in . Interactive maps are more visually appealing than PDF maps, are easier to understand, and are quick to update. By taking this new approach, Mundelein improved its liquor license tracking process and utilized a new way to view pertinent information.
Continuing to Improve
Although the Liquor License custom overlay is a great step in visualizing this data, Mundelein desired to further improve their workflow efficiency. The community then asked about adding a search function to locate businesses by name. Community Development and GIS developed an ArcGIS Online map that shows the location of all the businesses with liquor licenses and has a search tool to locate businesses by name. This innovation gave the community a new way to search for businesses and visualize data that was previously tucked away in a spreadsheet.
Benefits to the Community
Both the custom overlay and the ArcGIS Online map improved the ability of users to see how many licenses are in a commercial district or at a specific property such as a mall. Further, the maps are only visible to community staff, so all data is secure. Mundelein progressed from viewing data in a spreadsheet to working with it in an interactive map that significantly enhances the community’s liquor license review process.
Take the Lead
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Author: Mike Falkofske, GIS Specialist in Mundelein
A disruptive model for collaboration was set into motion in 1998 knitting four communities together to form the GIS Consortium; in this model communities share staffing, software, and infrastructure to enhance communication and sharing of information across departments by delivering a robust geographic information system (GIS) in their communities. The charter members of the GIS Consortium included the City of Highland Park, City of Park Ridge, Village of Lincolnshire, and Village of Glencoe. Today the GIS Consortium is 32 communities strong and growing!
In the fall of 2014 the managers of these communities came together for a strategic discussion where they considered questions like, “What other big problems could we solve together?” “How can we get access to enhanced services for our residents while revenues decline and expenses rise?” “How do we leverage the buying power we have in more places?” Today this group of managers call themselves the Leadership Roundtable and they are committed to thrive despite the circumstances around them by operating from their circle of influence.
Local government has always solved tough issues; these communities are simply leveraging the opportunity to do this together. We predict that this forum of managers will continue to be leaders who demonstrate what is possible when communities in local government collaborate.
Communities that collaborate win!
A forum of managers in local government in northern Illinois, the Leadership Roundtable, came together in early 2015 to generate a list of common problems they could solve together. As the list of project ideas grew one of them quickly floated to the top of the list. As a result, the managers prioritized a project that would enhance service by improving communication between residents and the municipality.
Next, the managers authored a charter document that outlined clear outcomes for the project, and then selected their top Thought Leaders to participate on an innovation team who would work together to achieve the desired outcome.
In 4 months’ time the team…
- used the innovation process
- wrote user stories
- issued a Request for Information (RFI)
- short-listed five vendors
- conducted interviews and demonstration
- created a presentation
- presented their recommendation to the managers of the Leadership Roundtable.
The team’s recommendation was to partner with a solution provider they found would achieve the outcomes of the charter best. The recommendation to implement a Citizen Service Request system has been accepted by 14 communities and we expect that number to keep growing. The communities are now in the process of negotiating collectively with the vendor of choice to obtain the best possible outcomes. Implementation of the solution will begin in the first quarter of 2016.
We will accomplish more together than we will on our own!
The City of Lake Forest, IL is harnessing the power of maps and mapping applications to share information with city staff and residents. Often maps refer users to another source for additional information. For example, a zoning map might direct people to the city’s Community Development website or a summer festival guide might feature website links of participating food vendors.
The downside is that referencing a website on a printed map forces the user to manually type a web address to access more information. An easy solution is to implement Quick Response (QR) codes on published maps. A QR code acts as a barcode that links to a specific website. When the code is scanned with a smartphone or tablet, it takes the user directly to the site.
The first step is to determine the associated website. Then Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff creates a QR code using a QR code generator website. Creating a QR code has no cost, is saved as a JPEG and can be added to any publication or map. Once finalized, the user simply scans the QR code with a smart device to instantly access associated content.
QR codes are an intuitive and time-saving way to share content. They give Lake Forest residents a convenient source of information without the extra step of typing in web addresses.
The Village of Mundelein, IL holds a variety of activities throughout the year, which are promoted through traditional outlets, such as newsletters and online calendars. While these outlets work to inform residents, the village sought a better way to increase public awareness and civic engagement.
The village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department recommended an interactive, online map to showcase all the events. This type of environment offers many benefits and is also very customizable to specific requirements and easy to update. Most importantly, the map lists all the events so viewers can click on any one and instantly see more information. As a viewer zooms into an area of Mundelein, the list shrinks to only include events which occur in that part of the map. The map can tell the whole story or a very specific story for a neighborhood.
By creating an interactive map, Mundelein gives residents and visitors an online tool to explore events. It represents the village’s continuing commitment to provide the community with easy access to timely information and increase public awareness and engagement.
The City of Lake Forest, IL developed an intuitive application that lets the public and staff see where construction projects are occurring throughout the year. With the assistance of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the City Manager’s Office and Engineering departments created a map application that will display the location of all construction sites in the city. Each site has a short project summary, along with photos and site plans. Information will be updated on a weekly basis.
The first step for GIS staff was to acquire all locations and related information. Construction sites were mapped and project details and photos were populated. Data was loaded into an online map environment, called Story Maps, powered by Esri’s ArcGIS Online application. Story Maps enable a user to host an inactive map showing localized data, such as construction sites. The end result is a URL web link embedded on the city’s webpage. Once the Story Map is published, users can view construction sites and related information. When a site is selected, additional details are displayed in the left-hand panel of the webpage.
Creating an interactive map gives Lake Forest residents a convenient source of information. They can browse construction sites and consume the most current project updates. Delivering data like this in an intuitive format and streamlined fashion is a valuable resource for building community relations.
Each year the U.S. Census Bureau asks local governments to participate in the Boundary Annexation Survey (BAS). This survey gives the U.S. Census Bureau the most current geographic boundaries of the area the municipality serves. For many, like the Village of Woodridge, IL, it is an excellent opportunity to improve population estimates.
In previous years, this review process was manual, and municipalities used paper and colored pencils to demarcate their boundaries and neighboring borders. They had to note down any annexations, de-annexations, or boundary changes that occurred since the last BAS was conducted.
Today, the Census Bureau encourages digital submissions of BAS materials using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Instead of listing and drawing modifications by hand, GIS tools are used to quickly identify changes between village boundaries and census boundaries. Using GIS for BAS submissions has benefitted the village in meaningful ways. It’s saved a great deal of staff time and effort, provided richer detail in identifying changes, and ultimately improved the population estimates provided by the Census Bureau.