Displaying local parking information in Google


The City of Highland Park Manager’s office has recently required the
need to visually display each city owned parking lot in a map format and
publish these maps to the city’s website. Although their original
methodology of publishing PDF maps of these parking lots would initially
work, the city believed that the organization of these maps could
become confusing when combined with all of the other content on the
city’s webpage. After multiple meetings with the Geographic Information
System (GIS) Department the city decided the best way to organize the
information was to create a Google Map containing a point location for
each city owned parking lot. From there, the parking lot data points
would then contain all of the necessary space designation counts for
each parking lot as well as a link to a corresponding PDF maps. The
benefit of doing it this way was to keep all parking lot information
centrally located and easy to find.

The first phase of the project involved the creation of PDF maps for
each parking lot using existing parking data that was created within the
GIS. The maps were then field checked and marked for errors by the
local city staff. Once all of field checks were completed the data
within the GIS was then edited to reflect what was current in the field
and PDF maps of each parking lot were created.

After the PDF maps were finalized, the next step was to create a KML
(Key Markup Language) file that could be used to integrate with Google
Maps or Google Earth products. The creation of this KML file involved
building a model in ESRI’s Arc Catalog application which took existing
GIS data and converted it to a usable KML file format. The most
important function of this conversion was to ensure that the labels that
were used to display the parking lot information in Google Maps were
readable in a clear and concise manner.

The first KML point file that was created was tested for
functionality within the Google Earth application. Users of this product
could click on a desired point and gather information about the total
amount of parking spaces in a selected parking lot and what designation
was assigned for each parking space. In addition, the Google Earth
application allowed for an accessible link to a PDF map for the specific
parking lot that was selected as well as the ability to print these
PDFs for individual purposes or meeting presentations.

Because Google Earth required each city employee to download an
application to their computer it was decided that Google Maps was a
better alternative since it worked from any internet browser and allowed
the same functionality. The last step was then performed that entailed
placing the Google Map link for the parking lots on the city’s web
server in order to make it easily accessible to all city employees and

In conclusion, the end result of this project created a more
centralized approach to representing the city’s parking structure on the
internet allowing it to be an important decision making tool for the
Intra-City Parking Commission and the residents of the City of Highland
Park. It can also be noted that interdepartmental collaboration between
city departments and GIS allowed this project to be a success.

Link: Highland Park Public Parking Map

Celebrating 50 Years map

​In 2007 the Village of Lincolnshire celebrated their 50th
Anniversary. To mark this occasion the Village planned multiple events
to occur around the 4th of the July holiday. As part of the planning
phase the Village requested the Geographic Information System (GIS)
Department to review the possibility of creating a custom banner to
celebrate this occasion. The requirements of the banner were two fold,
one, to show and illustrate important village information and two, be
large enough to promote public interaction. The project included the
interaction of multiple village departments contributing valuable input
including content, history and statistical data. The total project can
be broken down into three simple project phases which are listed below:

Phase 1: Planning Phase

Phase 2: Banner Research and Banner Content Development Phase

Phase 3: Banner production and delivery Phase

Phase 1: The Planning Phase lasted one month and was completed four
months prior to the planned 4th of July and 50th Anniversary
celebrations. Based on the information provided to the GIS Department
organization and outlines of the banner’s template began to take shape.
After multiple reviews and adjustments the banner template the overall
concept was completed. The final banner layout was set to be eight-one
inches wide by thirty-six inches tall in order to meet requirements of
the village’s color plotter and the content was to set to include six
separate categories.

Phase 2: The banner research and banner content development phase
finalized the following six categories formulated around a graphic
timeline. The categories included:

  • Graphic maps depicting annexation and corporate limits by decade as the village grew over time
  • Chart timeline showing all past and current village board members and mayors
  • Population growth and statistical timeline
  • Unique village milestones and their respective dates shown along a timeline
  • General village statistics
  • Aerial imagery overviews provided by outside sources for 1939, 1974, and 2006

This phase included multiple reviews, research and update cycles
based on valuable village staff feedback. This phase also included
researching outside sources to finalize banner content.

Phase 3: The third and final phase of this project was production.
From here, the GIS Departments took on the responsibility to take all
the information provided, finalize the banner and use available
resources plot and mount the banner. The banner was completed using
ArcView and exported to PDF format for reproduction. The banner was
then printed in-house using the village’s plotter saving reproduction
costs. The banner was reviewed one final time and then printed on high
quality heavy gloss paper, sprayed with a fixer to avoid any smearing
and mounted on multiple backboards

The final project outcome was well received by both village staff and
the general public. By deploying the proper planning methods and
conducting multiple review cycles all parties involved in the project
were able to provide and take ownership on the overall banner product.
The final banner was completed and proudly displayed at the village’s
50th Anniversary Celebration, a great example of how the village staff
and the GIS Department could work together to accomplish an important
and specific task.

KML technology to enhance the City’s “Great Eats and More” webpage

In June 2008, the City of Des Plaines Community and Economic
Development Dep
artment started a webpage on the city’s website called
“Great Eats and More”. The idea of the webpage was to highlight various
city restaurants and attractions in an effort to help generate
additional business, thus accentuating some of the things that set Des
Plaines apart from their surrounding communities.

While the list provided on the webpage allows a visitor to see what
is available in the city, it alone does not provide a good frame of
reference as to where each attraction is physically located. To help
enhance the functionality of the webpage, a Google Map feature was
introduced to allow users the option of viewing the list spatially in a
familiar, user-friendly mapping interface.

To assist with this project, the Geographic Information System (GIS)
Department developed a KML (Keyhole Markup Language) file that contains
geographic and attribute information for the businesses listed on the
“Great Eats and More” webpage. KMLs are web files that can be viewed in
many online mapping applications and can be developed for numerous
geographic feature types. The KML developed for the city consists of
point features representing the location of each business.

To customize the Google Map with local city information, an excel
spreadsheet of addresses was provided by the Community and Economic
Development Department and inputted into the GIS software application.
Once spatial features were created for each location, attribute
information was then added. This included the address, website, phone
number and all other necessary information that a visitor would need to
locate or contact each establishment. The attributes included in a KML
are what appear on-screen when a location is selected within Google
Maps. Keeping the KML updated both spatially and with correct
attribute information is critical. As businesses are added and removed
from the Great Eats and More listing, the KML is updated to reflect the
changes. Furthermore, having the map application current with the
webpage listing ensures that visitors can use both options to find a
location, which helps to maximize the website’s functionality and

Introducing a Google Maps application to the city’s “Great Eats and
More” webpage has helped to enhance the ability of visitors searching
for local attractions. Since KML file structures can be used with free
mapping websites, this enhancement was also made at no additional cost
to the city. By providing this mapping application, the city has added
an additional service that helps to make visits to the "Great Eats and
More" webpage more user-friendly.

Link: "Great Eats and More" map

GIS supports Parking Committee needs

City employees continually review their current parking layouts
within active bu
siness districts so they are confident that they are
providing their residents with the best services possible. If the city
does not provide ample parking within busy shopping sectors of town, it
can easily fall victim to decreasing consumerism and complaints from
business employees who need a long-term location to park while they are
at work.

The Geographic Information System (GIS) Department of the City of
Park Ridge utilized its valuable resources to map out the current uptown
parking layout in order to create a base for analyzing future parking

By using the aerial photography that the city paid for in 2006, the
GIS Specialist was able to make out most of the street parking spaces
and parking lot layouts. The ability to quickly access accurate aerial
photography and use it in-house allowed ninety percent of the parking
inventory model to be done without going to the field; the remaining ten
percent was done via field checks. From there, all of discernable
spaces were then drawn into a geographic database and assigned a parking
designation (i.e. three hour, handicap, etc.). Once all of the data for
the parking model was created, maps were then generated to depict the
current parking layout. Moreover, statistics on the number of spots that
existed per parking category were summarized and added to each map,
which allowed for easy revenue calculations during a parking committee

As the parking committee continued to meet on a regular basis GIS
provided new maps that detailed the alternate parking layout proposals.
These proposals were then submitted to the city council on behalf of the
decisions made at the committee level, thus demonstrating how GIS can
be utilized across multiple platforms of local government.

The parking committee’s review process, in conjunction with the help
of GIS technology, answered valuable questions related to the services
that the city provides. In the end, the city was successful at
altering their uptown parking layout design in order to better address
the needs of its residents and businesses.

Checking water meters in GIS

The recent collection of planimetric data or improved features such
as buildings, roadways, parking lots, driveways, etc. in Elk Grove
Village has provided for some new analysis possibilities through its GIS
(Geographic Information System). One of the evaluations conducted was
the distance between primary building structures and also a count of the
number of addresses that exist within each building structure.

The results of this assessment will be shared with the village’s Fire
Department and used to update such information in their database that
inventories the businesses throughout the community. There is additional
potential for use in dispatch to residential buildings for example that
are not currently tracked to understand the number of families affected
in a multiunit event or to realize the close proximity of adjacent
homes on all sides of a building in the event of a house fire.

Home rule sales tax

​​​​Home rule is the ability of a Municipal government to facilitate
greater loca
l control over the government decision making process. Home
rule charters, or local constitutions that establish such status, are
voted on by the residents. This article looks at the case to increase
Glenview’s Home Rule Sales Tax (HRST) from 0.5% to 0.75%.​​

The levying of a home rule sales tax is a means to generate village
income. All cities that have a population over 25,000; have a home rule
option in Illinois, municipalities however are optional. A majority of
the communities surrounding Glenview have HRST that greatly exceeded
Glenview’s 0.5%. As of July 1st 2007; Northbrook to the north had a HRST
of 0.75%, Morton Grove to the south was 1.00% and Des Plaines to the
west was levying a 1.00% HRST. The increase in HRST tax was requested so
that the Village could continue to meet the needs of capital
improvement projects which were currently running at a deficient. An
increase would help assure that the quality of infrastructure that
Village residents had come to expect would be maintained.

By providing a map of neighboring communities and their current rates
it gave context to a 0.25% raise. According to the spatial analysis
Glenview’s updated 0.75% rate was not out of line with other North Shore
communities. In all the map depicted 23 comparable communities to
Glenview, 13 of which had HRST of 1.00% and three with 0.75%. Effective
July 1, 2008 the HRST for Glenview was increased from one-half of one
percent (.50%) to three-fourth of one percent (.75%).​