ArcGIS Online Finder Application


ArcGIS Online provides many downloadable applications that can be used on smartphones, tablets, and desktops.  This includes web application templates, which are specifically designed to take a web map and then apply graphics, charts, and other related information.  The templates are easy to use and require minimal coding and configuration to get them up and running.  One of these templates is the Finder Application, which is a configurable application template that allows the user to use an attribute search on various feature layers.  This is similar to the Find and Go feature on MapOffice™, but it can be configured to search for any feature attribute, not just address information.

Currently, the GIS Consortium and communities are using the ArcGIS Online Finder Application to create small web based maps that can’t be currently created in MapOffice™.  The Village of Deerfield has put together a web map that allows residents to search a cemetery for specific graves based on the deceased name, and The Village of Lake Forest has an application that allows a user to search for local landmarks.  By using the ArcGIS Online Finder Application, the communities of the GIS Consortium are using new technology to make data querying easier and more efficient.

ArcGIS Online Collector Application

The ArcGIS Online Collector Mobile Application puts mapping in the hands of users out in the field and eliminates the need for paper maps by using Tablets and Smartphones to collect information.  The applications allows users to collect and update GIS data and then sync back with the original GIS databases eliminating the need for the GIS Specialist to enter the data once it comes back in from the field.  The application can be run on either iOS or Android devices and it can use either an internet connection, or the maps and information can be downloaded to the device and the user can work offline before synching back with the database once an internet or WiFi connection is established.


Currently, GIS Consortium communities are using the ArcGIS Online Collector Application to collect things such as Capital Improvement Projects, sidewalk information, and street signs.  The GIS Consortium is looking towards the future by possibly using the Collector Application to track and update utility information out in the field.  By using the ArcGIS Online Collector Application, the communities of the GIS Consortium are using technology to make field collection easier and more efficient.

Tree Asset Ownership Analysis

Throughout the course of the year the Village of Oak Brook, IL receives questions from residents concerning private tree ownership, typically to determine responsibility for maintenance.  Often times these questions can be resolved by a trip to the field by village staff, by referencing building surveys which include tree planting plans, or by utilizing aerial imagery with property lines to see which property the stem of the tree is located on.  If these options don’t yield an acceptable answer to the question, a surveyor needs to be called in to mark property boundaries to determine which property a tree is located.  In an effort to avoid calling in a surveyor for a dead tree removal dispute involving four village properties, village engineers requested that Geographic Information System (GIS) staff use available Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data to determine the location of a tree centroid to help pinpoint exactly who owns the tree.

GIS staff first determined the general location of the tree, under the direction of the village engineer, using aerial imagery.  After the location within the village was determined, LiDAR bare earth elevation points for that area, which represent solid ground around vegetation, buildings, water, etc, were loaded into the GIS software.  Once the bare earth points were loaded for the area in dispute a location in middle of the bare earth point cluster with no data was discovered, representing the canopy of the tree in dispute.  As shown in the associated image, a centroid was then placed in the middle of the approximate tree canopy indicated by the LiDAR point cloud, representing the trunk location, which allowed village engineers to see which property the trunk of tree landed on.  Without GIS, the resolution to this issue would have involved contacting a surveyor to come out, measure each property, and determine ownership.  This process would have taken longer and cost significantly more than the process that was used, which involved leveraging the existing GIS information.

Snow Plow Route Efficiency Analysis

During the record setting winter of 2013-2014, the Village of Glenview, IL snow plows were kept busy with 80 inches of snow falling in the area. Combined with very low temperatures causing icy roads, there were very real concerns about driver fatigue, salt reserves, and snow removal budgetary issues. 

Working together with Public Works, the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department was able to simulate the best routes available in the village for use with two scenarios, one with involved 10 snow plows and one that involved 12 snow plows. By modeling the best way to remove snow in the least amount of time through GIS, the Public Works department was able to identify inefficiencies in the existing routes. This tool was also able to provide turn by turn directions to the drivers, ensuring that these new routes would be easy to implement through staff training.

While the increase in route efficiency was one of the desired goals, this project provided results in two other ways. The cost savings associated with a quicker and more efficient snow plow route provides more monetary resources for the Public Works department to provide other quality services to the residents of Glenview.  Safety is also a major consideration, and the less time a snow plow driver is on the road, the safer the roads are for snow plow drivers, pedestrians, and other vehicles.

With the aid of GIS, the village developed a powerful cost saving tools that allow for greater flexibility in winter operations, and better service to village residents.

Updated Photogrammetric Mapping History for GIS Consortium Members

​A proactive approach is taken every year to update GIS Consortium members on how current their spatial data is. The GIS Consortium photogra​mmetric vendor is a nationwide engineering, mapping and survey firm that provides high-accuracy geospatial data that the counties cannot. All available orthophoto (aerial imagery similar to what one might see on Google), planimetric (roads, buildings, rivers) and topographic (elevation) data is visualized by the year it was purchased. Aerial LiDAR coverage is also shown with the topography data. This technology produces surface models from laser pulses emitted from a helicopter or plane. The color-coded maps allow communities to budget for updated data by seeing which areas have been updated in the past and if those areas have seen any significant construction or demolition over the years.

Collecting and maintaining accurate data for a Geographic Information System (GIS) program assures the base map is complete and allows GIS users, municipal employees, and decision makers to consume precise data and make decisions based on accurate, complete data. Commercial mapping companies​s might provide good data from a regional perspective, but their price and low precision are not ideal for local governments. Up-to-date photogrammetric and topographic data is beneficial to both MGP, Inc. employees as well as their clients.

Using MapOffice to View FEMA Documentation


The City of Lake Forest, IL Engineering Department needed a method to quickly look up residential properties that have been granted a FEMA Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). When a property owner thinks that their property has been incorrectly mapped in a Special Flood Hazard Area, the owner may submit a request to FEMA for a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA). The granted LOMA will state that an existing structure is on naturally high ground and will not be overcome by a base flood. Acquisition of a LOMA could result in reduced flood insurance premiums. 

FEMA sends copies of the granted LOMAs to the requestor and to the applicable community. These letters are used by the community to ensure floodplain regulation compliance. Previously, the LOMAs were filed and had to be manually referenced and sorted through during the permitting process. To expedite this workflow, the digital LOMAs were all renamed to be indicative of the associated address. Each LOMA address was mapped as a point feature and related to the appropriate document. The locations are now shown in MapOffice as a custom overlay. When a user searches a specified property in MapOffice and selects the location, the LOMA will appear in a new browser tab.  

Enabling users to search and view LOMAs by address in MapOffice saves community staff time and residents can receive a prompt response about floodplain related inquiries. Staff members no longer have to sort through documents to locate the correct file. If a resident is applying for permits where the flooding is of concerns, staff can quickly search an address and determine that a LOMA has been granted. 

Accessing Laserfiche through MapOffice(TM)


Over the years, the Village of Northbrook has scanned paper documents including, engineering drawings and plat maps in the effort of going paperless using software called Laserfiche. Laserfiche provides a framework for storing, organizing, and searching scanned documents. There are many benefits to having paper documents digitized including the ability to create backups and reducing staff’s time that went towards manually searching through boxed historical records.
The GIS Consortium created an easy way to find these documents using MapOffice. Staff can save time by locating the address they are interested in on MapOffice and turning on a Custom Overlay of the Village Subdivisions. Staff can click on the subdivision and bring up a hyperlink of the folder containing the associated documents and drawings for the subdivision the address falls into. The integration of Northbrook’s GIS data and Laserfiche will provide an invaluable tool for staff members when they need to access information.

Collecting Asset Inventories Using Mobile Applications


The City of Lake Forest, IL Engineering Department collects a sidewalk condition inventory every five years. This inventory is used to spatially plan annual capital improvement projects. Historically, Engineering staff field survey sidewalk conditions with a laptop and desktop Geographic Information System (GIS) software to identify areas of concerns. The sidewalk inventory information is then exported to spreadsheets and populated with construction dates which coordinate with the rest of the City’s Capital Improvement plan. To help streamline this process and remove some of the steps involved, the sidewalk survey is now performed using a mobile application called Collector provided by a company named Esri.

With the use of the free Collector application, staff can now perform the sidewalk inventory using just a tablet or smartphone. This method eliminates the need for using a laptop to conduct this inventory. Using Collector, users create a point at a desired location, define attributes associated to that point, and capture a related photo. The captured sidewalk survey data is then extracted from the tablet onto the Engineering workstations. The data can now be exported in a spreadsheet form and used for capital improvement planning and biddings.

The above process can be replicated to field capture any location inventory. Utilizing a tablet or smartphone is a more convenient platform for use in the field. The intuitive functionality of the mobile application reduces training time compared to advanced GIS software. The ability to capture the inventory without requiring desktop GIS software saves money in licensing fees and provides the city with the flexibility to replicate the process for collecting other asset information in the future.

Bike Network Information Added to MapOffice™


The City of Des Plaines, IL obtained a Congestion Mitigation and Air
Quality (CMAQ) grant in 2008 to assist in the development of the city’s
bike network. By the summer of 2011 this grant provided enough funding
to develop a bike network that includes 15 miles of signed on-street
routes and 5 miles of shared lane markings or other supportive pavement

In the past, information regarding the bike network was available to
the public through a series of static PDF maps on the city’s website,
but city staff wanted to consolidate information to make it easier for
residents and staff to view. To do this, staff from the Engineering
department worked with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) personnel to
develop a custom layer for display in MapOffice™, the city’s
interactive map application. Within this custom layer the current bike
network is symbolized by the type of routes that are currently in place
and proposed future route improvements. Bike rack locations are also
included in the layer, as well as points of interest found along each
route. This layer is displayed in both an internal version of
MapOffice™ available to village staff and well as a public version of
MapOffice™ available on the city’s website.

Making this information available in the city’s interactive map
environment allows residents and staff to view the bike network
spatially and also obtain information regarding the network features.
City staff hopes that this layer will give residents easy access to more
information about their bike riding options and provide answers to
questions that were previously only available by contacting the city

Using GIS for Community Rating System Accreditation (CRS)


The City of Lake Forest recently went through an accreditation
process for the National Flood Insurance Program’s Community Rating
System (CRS). CRS is a national program developed by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as a guide to assist communities with
designing or improving their floodplain management programs. Improving
floodplain management within a community can result in discounted flood
insurance premiums. CRS consists of a rating system that allots credits
for completing flood management related activities, with a community’s
rating determining the percentage of the premium discount. The more
activities completed, and the higher the quality with which they are
completed, the larger the impact on a community’s rating.

Engineering and Geographic Information System (GIS) staff
collaborated to establish the city’s rating by completing different
activities and projects required for the CRS review. Fulfilled projects
include calculating floodplain and open space acreage and creating an
online floodplain map accessible to city residents.

Having access to the aforementioned resources enabled these projects
to be completed quickly and accurately. By using GIS, the City of Lake
Forest gained a higher accreditation rating within the CRS program.
This higher rating will result in city residents experiencing a more
significant reduction in their flood insurance rates.