Fast Forward to Better Service, Delivery, and Performance!

In October 2015, the city and village managers in the GIS Consortium approved a recommendation made by leaders from their communities, to negotiate with Accela for the purchase of their Customer Relationship Management solution (formerly PublicStuff). Prior to this recommendation, the communities engaged in this project were using a variety of methods to track requests for service. The common challenge was that they were unable to easily share the information with each other or with the public, and this wasted valuable staff time. This is a short explanation of key accomplishments the Citizen Service Request Workgroup made in just 1 years’ time, which is really something to celebrate! 


Negotiating a Win-Win Agreement with Accela 

By the end of January 2016, the communities approached Accela as a group to create a one-of-a-kind agreement. This agreement assists communities with receiving discounts on the annual subscription cost of the software, the cost per integration, the cost for add-on features, and a reduction in the percentage for future price increases. As a result of creating this unique agreementAccela benefits by onboarding many new clients at once, establishing stronger presence in Illinois, and lowering their cost of sales. 


Standards and Governance 

By the end of February 2016, the communities standardized a list of service request types and definitions. The group that spearheaded this effort worked diligently to ensure the standards mirrored what a typical resident would requestSome examples of these include: Fallen Tree Limb, Construction Concern, Graffiti, Tall Grass and Weeds, Street Light Out, and Water Quality Concern.  The solution offers communities the best of both worlds: structure and flexibility with the administration of the system  


8 Communities Launch Initiative in the First Year! 

A short six months into the initiative, four communities have already gone live with the system: Lincolnwood, Downers Grove, Riverside, and Des Plaines!  Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove, and Norridge are set to launch before the end of 2016Here is what a couple of them have to say since their implementation: 


Doug Petroshius, Assistant Village Manager in Lincolnwood says, “In Lincolnwood the CRM is enhancing communication by providing residents updates on service requests, by making it easy to access the village staff directory, and by receiving priority information from the village through push notifications. The Village of Lincolnwood app has also been well received by the Board members and other community leaders.” 


Megan Miles, Downers Grove Management Analyst says, Our staff found the system easy to learn and use, and that benefits our residents because we have a good tool that allows us to quickly find and relay information to them.” 


Planning for the Future 

Only a year ago, this project collaboration was merely an idea to solve two prevalent pain points: to enhance communication and service to residents, and to provide a more robust, user friendly tool for community staff. The leaders of this GIS Consortium initiative made these outcomes possible and we congratulate all of them for this tremendous accomplishment. The year 2016 produced robust advancementsand we can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!  

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: Maria Storm, MGP Client Experience Manager

GIS Audits Electric Use Tax and Uncovers Billing Errors

Billing the right address seems like an easy endeavor, particularly when you have buildings that have been located on a property for decades. Yet minor errors in a database can make a sizeable difference in tax collection and village revenue. Take the case of Elk Grove Village, IL which imposed a municipal electric use tax back in 2011. 

Today, Elk Grove Village is in the process of verifying that tax data to make sure all the properties within its boundaries are being billed correctly. The local electric company, ComEd, gave the village a spreadsheet of the address billing records to be verified.

After mapping all of the address points in the spreadsheet data, the staff at Geographic Information Systems (GIS) discovered that the records provided by ComEd had errors in the database. Thanks to an intersect tool in GIS, staff were able to quickly identify all the addresses in the village that were not correctly billed. 

Some errors in the database are buildings that have no billing address on the property. Other billing records were combined for companies or owners that control multiple properties. These addresses must be manually reviewed to determine the appropriate billing. Without the benefit of GIS, staff would have to rely solely on billing data supplied by ComEd to manually review each address – a time-consuming and inefficient process.

Using GIS to Plan Bigger and Better Special Events

Elk Grove Village, IL hosts a summer concert series every year that are free, family friendly concerts that occur every Tuesday evening during the month of July.  This event has been steadily growing in attendance every year, leading to an increase in the amount of time and cost put towards planning the event by village staff. With higher attendance numbers, parking has become a major concern.  For the summer 2015 series the village is considering changing venues to allow for more parking within close proximity of the concert area.  In order to determine how much parking is going to be available near the new venue, the Police department utilized the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS). 

At the new venue there are several criteria that need to be taken into account to determine the amount of available parking: parking is only allowed on one side of the street, driveways are not to be blocked, parking is not allowed within 20 feet of a crosswalk, and 22 feet of space is required for each car.  The village’s GIS team was able to take these parameters and visualize them in GIS, providing the police department with an estimation of the number of cars that could be parked in each designated parking quadrant.  The police then used this information to support their request for the new venue location.  This workflow proved so successful that the Police department plan to use it moving forward for every event that requires on-street parking.  Utilizing GIS, the Elk Grove Police Department was able to help the village plan more effectively, which in turn adds value for the residents who attend by making it easier to access the event space. 

Business Intelligence Launches in Northbrook


The Village of Northbrook has recently launched the MapOffice Web Access tool called Business Intelligence.  Business Intelligence is a tool that allows users to filter and display live data from community or custom databases. 

Three attributes of Business Intelligence, filtering, visualization, and live data, make it a very powerful tool.  Business Intelligence allows users to visualize data on a map by plotting that data by address or XY coordinates.  Many times, community databases or software do not have great ways to display the wealth of data they hold.  Business Intelligence helps solve this problem by connecting to those databases and displaying the data on MapOffice so users can gain further incite about the data or look for trends.

When looking for trends it is sometimes necessary to manipulate how you view the data.  Business Intelligence permits the user to filter the data by date and/or a field within the data.  For example, Northbrook has set up a connection to a custom home foreclosure database that allows users to filter foreclosures by date and the foreclosure status.  Now the user can narrow the data that is displayed to show only what they are interested in.

Finally, Business Intelligence offers live connections to the databases.  This can be extremely powerful as users can view and analyze data held in the database as it is updated without having to wait for data to be uploaded to MapOffice.

The Village of Northbrook looks forward to taking advantage of this useful and powerful tool by connecting to community databases and software such as FireHouse, an ERP system, and many others to come.

Tree Work Order Tracking


Tree work orders were recorded in the past on paper by the Administrative Specialists, but when the Forrester in Elk Grove Village created his own database to track the phone calls and complaints from residents, GIS staff came up with the idea of tracking these work orders in MapOffice.

By allowing staff to search the records for the work orders by complaint type and date, staff can track both the complaint information and the work that was done by Public Works in response to the complaint. This technology also allows staff to determine if multiple work orders have been created from the same address or same resident. Staff would have to map each work order and update the map with the work done every day, if GIS technology was not available.

Comcast Address Verification

In order to be compliant with the 65 ILCS 5/11-42-11.05 (Municipal Franchise Fee Review; Request for Information), Comcast is in the process of verifying that that addresses in their database apply to the correct community. The state law requires that Comcast continues to provide franchise fees from annexed properties to the county from which the property was annexed for a period of 5 years from the date of annexation. Comcast provided a set of addresses for Elk Grove Village to verify as being part of the village.


GIS Staff was tasked with determining whether or not any of the provided addresses were located within the municipal boundary of Elk Grove Village. As you can see in the image above, the points were placed according to their address information. By checking the intersection between the address points and the village boundary, GIS staff was able to quickly determine whether or not the information provided was correct. The Village Manager’s Office was provided with both a map symbolizing the distribution of the addresses, and an excel document that listed which addresses were located within the village and those that were not. Without GIS staff would have to rely on a historical or tax database in determining if the addresses were incorporated.

Fire Incident Live Mapping Using Business Intelligence

In the past, the Elk Grove Village Fire Department has only been able to view its Fire Incident data in a map view, using the Firehouse software application. GIS has successfully connected directly to Firehouse data to create a live mapping view of Fire Incidents for Fire Department staff. Not only can Fire Department Staff now view Fire Incidents within the village by date, but they can also select by type of incident at the same time!


The Fire Incident Business Intelligence view in MapOffice will not only provide staff with a simple, easy to use mapping tool for Incident location lookup, but it can be used to identify patterns in incident location or incident type. For example, if there have been numerous fires occurring within a certain area, Fire Department staff could identify the pattern using the Fire Incident view in Business Intelligence to help determine the cause. Another benefit is that this is a live data connection, which saves time by removing an update procedure to be performed by GIS staff. The live data connection is just one of many great benefits of a Business Intelligence Connection. Lastly, by demonstrating this incident mapping technology, Fire Department staff will take more care and quality assurance as to the address or incident location put into Firehouse database. By doing this, there will be an increase in the quality of incident data in addition to the knowledge of the countless possibilities of analysis that may be performed.

Calls for Service Using the Business Intelligence by Address Tool


The Elk Grove Village, IL Police Department staff now has the ability
to quickly map out live data using a new tool available in the
village’s browser-based mapping application, MapOffice™ Advanced,
called Business Intelligence by Address. It provides the user the
ability to query a property and return all records associated with that
property from every local database that is connected to the application.

The Calls for Service Database is useful for police staff looking
into all complaints or historical crime information about a property.
The database will pull every police incident for that property,
including data as recent as the previous day. A user also has the
ability to export the returned information as a spreadsheet. This tool
is extremely useful for police officers or detectives that want to
compare police incidents directly, with as much information as possible,
when arriving to a scene. The databases that are currently connected
MapOffice™ are animal licenses, permit inspections, business licenses,
permits, variances, and fire inspections.

Sewer Lining Televised Video Integration


Throughout the year, the Village of Elk Grove Public Works Department
contracts out areas of the Sanitary Pipe network piping to be
televised. This practice is extremely important to identify tree roots
clogging up the pipes, as well as other problems and issues that come
with aging pipes. This method is the only way for the Sewer Foreman to
identify and locate problem areas that need replacement or maintenance.

Once the sewer televising contractor finishes up televising a section
of pipe, the recorded videos are then given to the Public Works
Department for their own review along with any notes of pipes with
problems or that require maintenance. Using a server created by IT, we
are able to load the videos onto the server where they are categorized
by the street name of that section of pipe. Next, the GIS system is
used to hyperlink the video links on the server to a feature class
called Sewer Televising. The user is then able to click on a segment of
pipe as an overlay in the MapOffice Advanced website, and open up the
video in Windows Media Player via a web browser. This overlay saves the
Sewer Foreman a great deal of time, instead of having to search through
the directory for the correct pipe video.

Construction Improvement Projects Overlay


It’s that time of year again. Just as the warm temperatures surge
northward from the Gulf of Mexico, the start of Road Construction season
begins. Many of these improvement projects can create large traffic
buildups and frustrate many commuters and residents. Keeping the public
notified on what projects are currently in progress, so they can plan
their commuting routes accordingly is very important.

The Construction Improvement Projects (CIP) Overlay is a quick
and simple way for the public to get all the updated information on the
construction projects that are ongoing in the village. As you can see in
the figure above, the map display is easy to read and provides a quick
look up on the areas undergoing construction. The pink areas will be
undergoing Road Construction, while the blue areas are undergoing other
Improvement Projects. As an added bonus, the user can click on any of
the icons or highlighted areas, which will provide them with all of the
key information pertaining to that project including Project Type,
Project Name, a short description, Start Date, Completion Date,
Contractor, Contact Information, and the Project Impact. A direct link
to the website associated with each project whether it is from the
Village of Elk Grove’s Construction Webpage, IDOT, or the Illinois
Tollway Department for more information.