So, Here’s a Story (Map)

Cheers! Mundelein Employs Interactive Mapping to Manage Liquor Licenses



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 MapOfficeInteractive 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 

Discover, innovate, and collaborate with the GIS Consortium today! Contact your community’s GIS Specialist to discuss project opportunities, Consortium services, and GIS.  

If you would like to learn more about this initiative or if you have questions, please contact 


Author: Mike Falkofske, GIS Specialist in Mundelein 

We Will Acccomplish More Together Than We Will On Our Own!

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!

Know the Flow: Who Has Residential Sprinklers

During a fire event, a sprinkler system is a key ally in battling the blaze and minimizing the damage. The City of Park Ridge, IL understands this firsthand and requires any new construction be equipped with a fire sprinkler system. While a long-time standard for commercial structures, this now includes residential buildings. 

Sprinkler information was traditionally tracked in a spreadsheet. However, locating a particular address wasn’t an easy or robust process, and not all staff members had direct access. As a result, the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Office was asked to devise a more effective way of delivering this information to staff.

GIS created a MapOffice™ Web Access Business Intelligence connection that references residential sprinkler locations throughout the city. Now when staff want to determine whether or not a residential sprinkler is installed at a home, all they do is type in an address when the connection is on. They can then click a point on the map and the spreadsheet information attributed to that address can be quickly accessed.

This is a great example of how GIS can connect with address-based tabular data and make information immediately accessible to those who need it.

Mapping the Way to Easy Dining

Communities are hungry for revenue and one of the many venues that attract visitors and dollars are restaurants. Because restaurants regularly change in communities, guides must be modified. The Village of Morton Grove, IL has over 50 restaurants within its boundaries. To help them update their restaurant guide this spring, the Morton Grove Community Development department called upon Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to create a restaurant map.  

Community Development gave GIS staff a list of restaurants in a sequential order that follows how they will be listed in the hand-out. Staff used those addresses to generate a map of each restaurant based on the numbering system that was provided.  By utilizing GIS, Community Development staff offered the public an easy, visual way to see the location of any restaurant in Morton Grove and better understand their dining options.

Private Community Sign Ordinance Support

Enforcing a sign ordinance in a community can be taxing for any local government, but with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a single staff member can implement a policy for an entire municipality. The Village of Lincolnshire, IL recently began reviewing and classifying signs in the village as “compliant” or “non-compliant”, which allows them to be tracked and symbolized in a map environment so the status is easily viewed. 

A sign ordinance in a community promotes public health, safety, and welfare while also establishing aesthetics that distinguish it from other communities. Sign ordinances benefit the private sector and help them be more successful by ensuring their messages are clearly communicated to the public. 

The Village adopted these principles in their sign ordinance. In the image below, dots represent the exact location of signs in question, and are symbolized by their compliancy status. GIS built on past work by the village and integrated new information, such as their compliancy status.   Within the village’s interactive, browser-based map application, MapOffice™, each sign is represented by a dot, with the option to navigate the user to a Microsoft® Word document that tracks every private sign in the village. Whether to check compliance or update information, this efficient practice can be applied to many other environmental or zoning ordinances, thereby making the process of checking the status of these items easier for village staff to accomplish. 

Improving Census Boundary Information with Digital Mapping

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.

Using GIS to Audit Franchise Fee Addresses

The Village of Woodridge, IL is asked periodically by Comcast Corporation to verify customer addresses. This is done in accordance with the Municipal Franchise Fee Review, which helps municipalities confirm that they are receiving the proper franchise fees from Comcast. 

Working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the Village of Woodridge quickly audited the address lists provided by Comcast rather than manually comparing each address to their enterprise management system. GIS compared the village’s address database against two customer address lists provided by Comcast, saving village staff numerous hours of manual review. 

Even though the first address list from Comcast included customers who live in Woodridge, annexation dates were missing. The second list of customers could not be identified as being in the village or not. Using GIS, these addresses were mapped and compared against existing locations and annexation information stored in the GIS environment. The results gave Comcast the accurate information they need and provided the village with greater certainty about the franchise fees they receive from Comcast.

Using GIS to Keep Unwanted Urban Critters in Check

Rodents, and rats in particular, are a persistent nuisance and potential health hazard in any urban area. If left uncontrolled, these critters multiply rapidly and wreak havoc on the environment they share with the larger human population. Communities must be proactive in keeping the rat population low.

The City of Park Ridge, IL sought an effective way to combat their growing population of rats. They called on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to help with their efforts. GIS evaluated the locations in the city with the greatest number of rat complaints and sightings and the relation to paved/unpaved alleys. Using data collected over the past six years, numbers were mapped and a hot-spot analysis was performed. This analysis depicts locations on the city map in varying shades of color to show how dense or sparse rat populations are in a particular area based on the number of complaints received.

Drawing on this key data, the city’s health department determined which neighborhoods are most heavily affected by rats, and where and what number of bait boxes should be placed in sewers this spring. Due to GIS’s involvement in the project, the City of Park Ridge is confident they are targeting sectors with the greatest amount of rat activity and controlling the rising rodent population.