Establishing a safe walking route to school

​Picking a community that resides within a good school district is
something that is often queried when a family is on the move. Not only
is the idea of a good education important to this family, but the safety
of that school and its location to heavily trafficked areas. The City
of Park Ridge decided that on top of offering numerous great schools for
their students to attend, they would also offer those students a safe
route to those schools.

A few years ago the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department
was presented with the task of mapping out of all the safest walking
routes to each school based on the decisions made by the school board.
One month ago they decided to update these maps by re-evaluating the old
routes and to additionally include the locations of each adult school
crossing guard. Creating a useable and understandable map was the most
difficult task of this project considering the fact that there were
multiple routes to each school and many of these routes overlapped one
another as the routes got closer to the school. Each school had an
average of five separate routes branching out from the periphery of the
school boundary and as many as three adult crossing guard locations.

Using the resources of the GIS Department, the old school walking
routes were reviewed and edited based on the suggestions that were
submitted by the members of the school board. Each school and its
respective school walking routes were then assigned a specific color
scheme so that it was easy to delineate which routes were heading to
which school. In order to make the map more readable each route was
given a number in the form of a label that would sit on top of each
walking route line. As multiple routes began to overlap each other when
they got to closer to the school, the labels denoting the route number
would stagger their position allowing for easy route demarcation.
Furthermore, each adult crossing guard location was added to the map to
help define the walking routes where children would be crossing major
streets.

Once the general design was finalized a map was made of each school
and all maps were then submitted to the school board. From there the
school board was able to distribute these maps to the parents who were
sending their kids to these schools and ultimately provide an additional
service that has been well received by the local residents.

In conclusion, it is easy to see that a simple product is sometimes
all that is needed to keep people informed. In this case it was the
communication between the city’s staff, the GIS Department and the
school board that made it feasible to make these simple maps useable for
the general public. All in all, helping the residents feel good about
choosing the City of Park Ridge for their place to live.

Establishing a safe walking route to school

​Picking a community that resides within a good school district is
something that is often queried when a family is on the move. Not only
is the idea of a good education important to this family, but the safety
of that school and its location to heavily trafficked areas. The City
of Park Ridge decided that on top of offering numerous great schools for
their students to attend, they would also offer those students a safe
route to those schools.

A few years ago the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department
was presented with the task of mapping out of all the safest walking
routes to each school based on the decisions made by the school board.
One month ago they decided to update these maps by re-evaluating the old
routes and to additionally include the locations of each adult school
crossing guard. Creating a useable and understandable map was the most
difficult task of this project considering the fact that there were
multiple routes to each school and many of these routes overlapped one
another as the routes got closer to the school. Each school had an
average of five separate routes branching out from the periphery of the
school boundary and as many as three adult crossing guard locations.

Using the resources of the GIS Department, the old school walking
routes were reviewed and edited based on the suggestions that were
submitted by the members of the school board. Each school and its
respective school walking routes were then assigned a specific color
scheme so that it was easy to delineate which routes were heading to
which school. In order to make the map more readable each route was
given a number in the form of a label that would sit on top of each
walking route line. As multiple routes began to overlap each other when
they got to closer to the school, the labels denoting the route number
would stagger their position allowing for easy route demarcation.
Furthermore, each adult crossing guard location was added to the map to
help define the walking routes where children would be crossing major
streets.

Once the general design was finalized a map was made of each school
and all maps were then submitted to the school board. From there the
school board was able to distribute these maps to the parents who were
sending their kids to these schools and ultimately provide an additional
service that has been well received by the local residents.

In conclusion, it is easy to see that a simple product is sometimes
all that is needed to keep people informed. In this case it was the
communication between the city’s staff, the GIS Department and the
school board that made it feasible to make these simple maps useable for
the general public. All in all, helping the residents feel good about
choosing the City of Park Ridge for their place to live.

3d modeling in local government

​One might ask what benefits a local government would get by modeling
their community in a 3-D environment and the answer is simple, a great
deal. The idea of modeling the real world on a computer was once a
difficult task and usually only existed in video games. However, with
technology advancing at an alarming rate this once difficult task has
now become more of a normal occurrence.

Community and Economic Development Departments at the local
government level have consistently searched for ways to evaluate the
structure of their town in order to see what implementations may be
working and what areas might need improvement. Usually these types of
reviews are done by outsourcing the project to an external consultant in
return for a 3-D representation of the study area. Although this
method is quite efficient, it often costs a community extra money. For
the City of Park Ridge it was decided that to keep this type of work
in-house and use the resources of the Geographic Information System
(GIS) to review the “Higgins Road Corridor” project in a 3-D environment
would be beneficial.

By using the data that the city collects annually the GIS Department
was able to create a 3-D model that included buildings, driveways,
sidewalks, roads and parks for the “Higgins Road Corridor.” The basics
of creating this model entailed using GIS tools to extrude each feature
listed above to its true elevation height above mean ground level.
While this data is extruded it is also converted to a specific file type
that can be imported into Google’s SketchupTM application.

Once the data was exported to a useable Sketchup file it was then
imported into the Google SketchupTM application allowing it to be
displayed properly by applying specific colors and textures to all
features in order to make them more realistic to the real world. In
addition, text labels were added to call out all of the major roads and
parks within the study area making the 3-D model ready for production.
One of the benefits of using the Google SketchupTM application is that
it allows for easy layout creation and final conversion to a PDF product
for printing. Once in a PDF format these products can be printed and
mounted for display purposes at city board meetings, this being the
method that City of Park Ridge practiced for this particular project.

In conclusion, it is easy to visualize how the functionality of GIS
along with other applications allowed the Community and Preservation
Department of Park Ridge the ability to stay in-house with this
particular project and administer more control during production time.
Furthermore, representing a portion of the real world in a 3-D
environment allowed city board members to conceptualize what impacts
might be endured by redeveloping the “Higgins Road Corridor”, such
impacts that are not always seen in a 2-D environment.

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.

Fire response analysis in Park Ridge

Blog_Fire_response_analysis_in_Park_Ridge.jpg 

The City of Park Ridge Fire Department, like all other Fire
Departments, takes great pride in responding to their residents in a
quick and timely manner. Part of taking pride in this service means
that they are prepared at all times and are ready to act when the bell
goes off. Their hard work doesn’t stop there though, as they are always
investigating ways to improve their systems and response times to
incidents within and outside the city limits. Whether it is receiving a
good numerical grade for the Public Protection Classification (PPC*) or
a high rating for Fire Suppression Rating Schedule (FSRS*), the Fire
Department is always enhancing their efficiency to provide a great
service.

In addition to the tests listed above, the Park Ridge Fire Department
contacted the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department in order
to evaluate the response time network covered by five-minute response
areas. The base layer for the response time network consists of a road
centerline feature. Information added to the road centerline feature,
including speed limits and one-way restrictions allowed for response
times to be calculated. Using the formula of “60*length of segment/speed
limit,” a response time was populated for each segment. The response
time is the cost of travelling that segment of road. Placing other
restrictions including turns, stop signs as well as prohibited u-turns
for modeling intersections only increased the accuracy of the network.

When the final product of the road centerline feature was completed
it was then run through a specific GIS tool that would trace all street
segments for five-minutes worth of drive time from each fire station in
the city. The result of this analysis was a highlighted area of
coverage from each fire station, which allowed the Fire Department to
visually see where coverage did and did not exist. In this case the
test successfully proved that the two Park Ridge fire stations were
accurately located within the city allowing them to reach all corners of
town within a five-minute drive time.

In conclusion, it is great to see how the Park Ridge IL, Fire
Department, along with the assistance of the GIS Department, were able
to work together in order to continue to providing the city with a safe
and efficient service for their residents.