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
usability.

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
plans.

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
meeting.

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%).​