Following flooding

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Being situated along a river has many advantages, but can also create
many issues that have a direct impact on the residents adjacent to
these natural features. Riverside has most of its southern boundary
defined by the Des Plaines River and there are significant natural areas
throughout the community that surround the river which provide for
activities such as fishing and scenic walking. These landscapes usually
act as a buffer from flooding that can occur during major rain events,
but do not always absorb the impact of these events.

The Geographic Information System (GIS) provides the community a
resource to consume Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) flood
information. This data is updated every year and helps determine
insurance rates and flood hazards in developed areas. The FEMA data can
be combined with property and other geographic information and features
in the GIS that allows for recognition of trends and provides a
superior decision making resource when compared to previous methods.

This information is currently being provided to village staff as a
map image and through a mapping application called MapOffice™ Advanced.
MapOffice™ Advanced provides an interactive resource where staff can
quickly view properties, addresses, roadways, waterways, and FEMA flood
zones. The map image provides similar viewing capability, but has also
incorporated other flood and drainage information that has been captured
in the GIS such as the extent of the flooding from the September 2008
storm event and yard drainage issues that have been reported throughout
the community.

Other geographic analysis is being considered to further impower
village staff and support their efforts to mitigate these events and
issues. In the meantime, combining and overlaying this various but
related information will continue to provide a valuable resource for the
village.

Water main infrastructure stability

​Whether it is to take a shower or fill up a glass of water people use
the resource of water everyday. Although the process of getting this
resource to the consumers seems to happen without much exposure, it is
definitely noticed when the water stops running. The procedures that a
local community conducts in order to provide their residents with clean
and useable water is something that they take very seriously; so it is
no wonder why they continually investigate the strength of the water
utility infrastructure. For the Village of Morton Grove they have
decided to do just that.

Every time a water main break occurs within the village limits it is
first reported to the public works department and then it is serviced.
The third process that the Village of Morton Grove performs is to track
the closest address to where the water main break occurred. These
addresses are then entered into a spreadsheet every month and stored
away for records sake. Although this method was efficient it lacked one
final step that would allow for the village engineers to truly study
what was happening to their water utility system, a visual component.
Having a visual component would help the engineers to analyze where the
most water main breaks were occurring and if they were continuing to
happen on the same water main. This is where the village enlisted the
resources of the Geographic Information System (GIS) department.

By using the tools located within the GIS, the addresses that were
recorded for each water main break could easily be given a geographic
location on the earth based on a process called geocoding. Geocoding is
an operation that searches a street centerline data layer and locates
where an address falls on a particular street within a specific block.
Once these addresses are located, they are then placed on a map in order
to analyze where the most breaks occur.

In addition to plotting the water main break locations by month the
village decided that the true benefit would come by mapping out these
incidents per year and even more in depth, by multiple years. In total,
this type of analysis allowed for the village to locate the most
problematic areas of town and decide on what water mains might actually
need to be replaced before more breaks continue to come about.

Since the inception of this project the analysis has been performed
at least once a year. Moreover, the maps that are generated from the
project are studied and eventually brought before the budget committee
when considering how much money should be allocated for fixing these
problems. All in all, it is easy to see how taking data from a simple
spreadsheet and using it within GIS has converted a simple recording
project into an analysis tool that the village can ultimately use in
order to provide their residents with the valuable resource of water.

Water main infrastructure stability

​Whether it is to take a shower or fill up a glass of water people use
the resource of water everyday. Although the process of getting this
resource to the consumers seems to happen without much exposure, it is
definitely noticed when the water stops running. The procedures that a
local community conducts in order to provide their residents with clean
and useable water is something that they take very seriously; so it is
no wonder why they continually investigate the strength of the water
utility infrastructure. For the Village of Morton Grove they have
decided to do just that.

Every time a water main break occurs within the village limits it is
first reported to the public works department and then it is serviced.
The third process that the Village of Morton Grove performs is to track
the closest address to where the water main break occurred. These
addresses are then entered into a spreadsheet every month and stored
away for records sake. Although this method was efficient it lacked one
final step that would allow for the village engineers to truly study
what was happening to their water utility system, a visual component.
Having a visual component would help the engineers to analyze where the
most water main breaks were occurring and if they were continuing to
happen on the same water main. This is where the village enlisted the
resources of the Geographic Information System (GIS) department.

By using the tools located within the GIS, the addresses that were
recorded for each water main break could easily be given a geographic
location on the earth based on a process called geocoding. Geocoding is
an operation that searches a street centerline data layer and locates
where an address falls on a particular street within a specific block.
Once these addresses are located, they are then placed on a map in order
to analyze where the most breaks occur.

In addition to plotting the water main break locations by month the
village decided that the true benefit would come by mapping out these
incidents per year and even more in depth, by multiple years. In total,
this type of analysis allowed for the village to locate the most
problematic areas of town and decide on what water mains might actually
need to be replaced before more breaks continue to come about.

Since the inception of this project the analysis has been performed
at least once a year. Moreover, the maps that are generated from the
project are studied and eventually brought before the budget committee
when considering how much money should be allocated for fixing these
problems. All in all, it is easy to see how taking data from a simple
spreadsheet and using it within GIS has converted a simple recording
project into an analysis tool that the village can ultimately use in
order to provide their residents with the valuable resource of water.

Targeting utility infrastructure improvements

​As the country’s utility infrastructure continues to age, many local
governments will be faced with the task of updating or replacing
deteriorating structures. Since this process can result in high costs
for a community, many municipalities prefer to develop an infrastructure
improvement plan to make sure the areas most in need get updated first.
As part of the Village of Winnetka’s utility improvement plan, the
water and electric department recently analyzed the structural integrity
of village water mains by reviewing water main break incidents from the
last 20 years.

Main break records help to identify mains that are weak or have
become unreliable over time and, therefore, are in need of repair.
While several department members were aware of numerous water main
breaks that have occurred over the years, without a comprehensive view
of the entire village, it was difficult to determine which mains should
be considered high priority updates. To assist with identifying
priority update areas, the GIS department used address and location
information associated with each main break incident record to create a
spatial layer for the water main breaks that could be mapped and
analyzed in the GIS software.

While being able to spatially review the main break locations was
useful in identifying general problem areas across the village, it did
not help to highlight the individual water main features in the GIS that
the breaks occurred along. To help accomplish this task, the GIS
software allows for multiple features to be linked together using a
common attribute, which can allow for information from one feature to be
applied to another. For this project, both the water mains and the
main break records contained a water main numbering system used by
department staff to track and identify individual records. Using this
numbering scheme, the break records were successfully linked to the
water mains, thereby allowing each main feature to be visually
identified by the number of break records associated with it.

With the main breaks both spatially referenced and linked to the
existing water main features in the GIS system, the water and electric
department now has an efficient tool for reviewing mains where multiple
breaks have occurred. Being able to locate these high priority areas
without performing time-consuming field checks has also provided a
cost-savings to the department by improving staff efficiency and
allowing them to focus on other tasks. Using GIS to assist with this
project has improved the department’s ability to develop a more
efficient water main improvement plan and provides a visual reference
tool to assist with planning future improvement projects.

Resurfacing streets made easier with GIS

Within the sector of local government there are many important
services that a co
mmunity provides for their residents. Among the long
list, one service that often gets a lot of discussion is the condition
of the streets, or better yet, the street resurfacing program. Whether
residents file a complaint about the vast number of potholes on a street
or someone passing through town inquires about a refund for a road
induced flat tire, the general condition of a street attracts a fair
amount of attention. With these ideas in mind the Village of Morton
Grove decided to take a different approach at surveying the condition of
their streets in an effort to better understand the current state of
their road infrastructure.

The village decided that to maximize the use of their time and money
they would create a street resurfacing inventory with the help of an
application called MicroPaverTM as well as the resources of the
Geographic Information System (GIS). Collectively, both applications
had something that the other program did not necessarily excel at.
MicroPaverTM was very proficient at managing a street inventory and
assigning all streets with an accurate condition rating based on
multiple street condition attributes. On the other hand, the GIS was
very good at producing a final product in the form of a map and making
the results from the MicroPaverTM more understandable to the common
viewer.

Although the village engineers were more concerned with the numbers
and statistics reported from the MicroPaverTM software, they knew that
the data had to be readable to the village board staff that were not
engineers themselves. By having access to the capabilities that the
MicroPaverTM technology provided it was quite simple to use an export
tool that would transfer the street data into a GIS useable file. Once
in the GIS, the streets were categorized based on their pavement
condition rating and given a color scheme to delineate which streets had
a status of pass and which had a status of failure. Applying the
proper color scheme to the final map product was crucial since the map
would eventually be displayed at the village’s budget meeting and act as
a mechanism for understanding the overall condition of the current
street infrastructure. In addition, the more streets that were displayed
with a failing status might lead the board to believe that more of the
budget dollars should be allocated to the street resurfacing program.

In conclusion, community projects that require definitive answers
usually require a systematic approach. In the example listed above it
easy to see that using GIS in conjunction with the MicroPaverTM software
allowed the Engineering Department of Morton Grove to answer some
serious questions in regards to an important community service, street
resurfacing

Integration of FEMA flood data into community maps

Every year FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) provides
communities with updated maps and flood information to be used to help
determine insurance rates and resident location flood hazards. Included
in this delivery is Geographic Information System (GIS) specific
information that can be integrated into existing community maps. This
combination of information allows the user to recognize trends that may
not be noticeable when looking at separate sources.

In previous FEMA deliveries to the Village of Wheeling, flood maps
were provided showing the different flood zones and the floodway along
the Des Plaines River and the various creeks and streams that flowed
into it. When a resident called to find out if a property was within a
specific flood zone to determine if flood insurance needed to be
purchased, a village employee would have to compare the flood map with a
map displaying addresses and lot lines. By combining the flood map
with the address map with GIS, you get a map clearly showing where the
flood zones overlap lots lines with the respective address. This
process saves time and can provide a more accurate estimate of a
resident’s location to a flood zone.

The flood information provided by FEMA could also be combined with
other data accessible by the village’s GIS. Combining the flood data
with village Zoning and TIF district information can help a prospective
builder make a more informed decision on a building location.

Although all data provided by FEMA and the village of Wheeling
existed prior to GIS, it was never combined in such a way to provide
more accurate information and a map that is easier to use.

Using GIS to realign utility infrastructure

The ways in which waste is removed from our home and how water makes
it into our glasses are often overlooked as processes that just happen
on their own. This is simply not true. In fact, these services provided
by the Village of Morton Grove are looked after very carefully and
thought of as serious village operations. Moreover, it is safe to say
that having an up-to-date inventory of where these utilities are
precisely located is a necessity as well; this is where GIS can help.

The Geographic Information System (GIS) Department routinely utilizes
its valuable resources to analyze the layout of its current utility
infrastructures. By using the aerial photography that the village paid
for in 2006, the GIS Specialist is able to review utility lines and
structures in their current location and compare them to where they are
located on the aerial photography. Since the utility infrastructure data
was originally created at a time when good aerial photography was hard
to come by, many of this data is not one hundred percent accurate.

Although going to the field to identify the locations of utility
lines and structures is a good method, the ability to quickly access
accurate aerial photography and use it in-house allows for a large
percentage of the data to be verified without leaving the desk. This
allows the village to save time and money for a good portion of the
review process.

It is important to note that using GIS not only can enhance the
integrity of the village’s utility data, but it is also key to recognize
that having this accurate data allows for trustworthy calculations.
For example, when the village conducts a water distribution study, they
rely on the most up-to-date data to submit to an outside consultant so
they can obtain the most accurate results. Moreover, when the Sewer
Department wants to inventory what supplies might be needed for an
upcoming project; they can easily look at the current utility
infrastructure in GIS to get some ideas. Without an accurate
foundation, most analyses cannot provide much value but by using
available assets, it is easy to see how GIS can improve the reliability
of utility data and make it a more trustworthy resource.

The aerial photography and utility infrastructure review process, in
conjunction with the help of GIS technology, helps to answer valuable
questions related to the services that the village provides. As times
go on, the village continues to successfully update their utility data
in order to better understand what they currently own and are in control
of, which helps the village to provide a service that on average is not
always recognized.