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!
Aging infrastructure affects not only water delivery, but the revenue stream in municipalities. When water mains leak or break, the Village of Tinley Park, IL responds quickly to assess the damage and fix the problem.
Over time, sections of the water main leak or break repeatedly, prompting replacement. To be more proactive in determining which pipes to replace, the village’s Public Works department turned to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff to analyze incidents over location and time and determine which sections are high priority.
The analysis compared the age, location, and number of incidents on each pipe section throughout the village. By comparing the density of leaks and breaks within a 33-year period and a more recent 10-year period, those sections with the most incidents were identified and highlighted in maps.
Using these maps, Public Works easily prioritized which ones to replace in the upcoming year. The GIS analysis also gave staff insight into areas of town where leaks and breaks would likely occur in the future.
The Village of Woodridge, IL regularly receives questions from residents related to property taxes. Whether this is related to understanding their tax bill or where their money is going, these questions can be answered more effectively with a visualization that residents can understand and that staff can easily explain. It was this need that initiated the development of a custom layer for the village’s online mapping application, MapOffice™, which would allow a resident to see a full breakdown of their property tax information.
This custom layer was developed by the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department using tax information provided by DuPage County and Will County that consists of the tax rate owed to each taxing body by tax code. This information was combined with parcel data that was also provided by the county and charted. The end result is a custom layer that allows a resident to click on a parcel and see their total tax rate, as well as a chart that shows the composition of this total tax rate by the tax rate of each taxing body. This allows users to easily find differences in taxing from one property to the next, and to understand how these differences are attributed to taxing districts. This custom layer can also be used as a tool for village staff to reference when answering questions related to property taxes.
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.
Recently the Village of Glencoe received a request from North Shore Gas to complete an address audit, in which the addresses in the North Shore Gas list would be compared to the Glencoe addresses on file. Without GIS, this would need to be done by hand using simple technology such as excel or access but would consist of manual comparison work. This would take hours to complete from staff and was not efficient. With GIS, a new way of comparing data can be completed.
From the request of North Shore Gas, the Finance Department requested if an address comparison could be completed using GIS. This could not only be completed in GIS, but in a much more time efficient way. Through GIS, addresses in the North Shore Gas list can be spatially located and then compared to see if it matches a GIS address. A small amount of manual comparison was needed based on apartment/unit differences but was vastly sped up using GIS. Without GIS, this process of address comparisons would take a large amount of time.
The City of Highland Park made a recent addition to the main page of the website; Property Search, also known as Community Portal. Highland Park has long been directing the public to MapOffice Public for their information needs but now the public has another site at just the click of a mouse.
Community Portal makes looking up property information quick and easy. On the front page of the Highland Park webpage is a "Property Search" widget that directs the public to enter an address for more information. When an address is entered in, Community Portal launches itself with a "Property Summary" landing page. Multiple tabs of information are provided within Community Portal and it is completely customizable based on the community’s needs. The idea behind Community Portal that makes it so different from MapOffice is that not all information needs to be displayed on a map such as garbage pickup day/time, rather just text information is needed which is where Community Portal steps in. It is the simplicity and ease of use that makes Community Portal so beneficial to Highland Park.
As Highland Park begins to understand what information the public is looking for, Community Portal will be developed further around that. As stated earlier, it is completely customizable based on the communities needs and that is how Highland Park will advance itself in providing need to know information to the public. More to come with Community Portal!
A recent objective of the technical staff in the GIS Consortium (GISC) has been to investigate the potential for 3D mapping and to be sure the GISC’s data model continues to advance and support these new technologies easily. 3D mapping in GIS has been possible for some time now, but it has always been a matter of the ease of doing so. The value of the 3D products must provide a benefit greater than the time and software costs required to create them.
The GISC’s software provider, ESRI, has an extension called 3D Analyst which provides the 3D mapping opportunities by rendering GIS data that has elevation, height, or level information assigned to it. A new addition to their suite, called CityEngine, provides for texturing of data to make it appear even more real if needed, but much more time is required to add those components to the map. These zoning and tree infestation images highlight the kind of maps that can be created and analysis that can be performed using 3D Analyst. It is quite clear how valuable the third dimension of information is to communicate the volume of infrastructure, natural or manmade, that exists in an area and the impact they have on their surroundings. GIS is a decision support tool and 3D obviously has a part to play for the GIS Consortium member communities.
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.