Crystal Lake Teams up with GIS to Fight Fires in Lakewood

Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department

Is it possible to save resources, improve community services, and help a fellow neighbor all at the same time? If you ask Crystal Lake, the answer is an enthusiastic “Yes!” 

 

In 2015, Crystal Lake’s neighbor, the Village of Lakewood, was in search of a new fire service provider. That summer, Lakewood approached Crystal Lake with a proposal to enlist the Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department as the new provider with the caveat that the city would provide more efficient and cost-effective services.  

 

Fighting Fires With GIS 

 

Enthusiastic to help, Crystal Lake turned to its GIS program for assistance with the endeavor. To better understand if the city would be able to effectively provide this service, the fire department collaborated with the city’s GIS program to answer the following question: Can the Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department respond from each station to all areas of Lakewood more effectively than the village’s current provider?  
 

Evaluating Distance Response Times

 

Crystal Lake’s GIS team created an emergency drive response time map to analyze how long it would take emergency responders to travel from the station to different areas of Lakewood. The team discovered that Crystal Lake is able to respond faster than the current provider. Upon reviewing various resources, Crystal Lake’s bid, and the drive time analysis, Lakewood chose to unite with the Crystal Lake Fire Rescue Department as the community’s new fire protection service provider.  

 


A New Year, A New Beginning 

 

January 1, 2016 marked the first official day of the new fire protection partnership. To ensure that the two communities made a successful transition sans service interruptions, the GIS Program developed a plan to facilitate the changeover. The GIS team and the fire department joined forces to use drive time analysis to map out ideal routes from each station to locations throughout both communities. The results and maps were shared with the staff to inform them of the new coverage area, and fire protection services were set into motion. 

By leveraging GIS and coordinating with the fire department, Crystal Lake and Lakewood combined resources and ideas to provide fire services to both communities. This collaboration enabled each community to receive efficient and effective services while saving time and resources. 

 

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 agrahovac@mgpinc.com. 

 

Author: Alexandria Caputo, GIS Specialist in Crystal Lake 

 

Communities That Collaborate Win!

A disruptive model for collaboration was set into motion in 1998 knitting four communities together to form the GIS Consortium; in this model communities share staffing, software, and infrastructure to enhance communication and sharing of information across departments by delivering a robust geographic information system (GIS) in their communities.  The charter members of the GIS Consortium included the City of Highland Park, City of Park Ridge, Village of Lincolnshire, and Village of Glencoe.  Today the GIS Consortium is 32 communities strong and growing!

In the fall of 2014 the managers of these communities came together for a strategic discussion where they considered questions like, “What other big problems could we solve together?”  “How can we get access to enhanced services for our residents while revenues decline and expenses rise?” “How do we leverage the buying power we have in more places?”  Today this group of managers call themselves the Leadership Roundtable and they are committed to thrive despite the circumstances around them by operating from their circle of influence.

Local government has always solved tough issues; these communities are simply leveraging the opportunity to do this together.  We predict that this forum of managers will continue to be leaders who demonstrate what is possible when communities in local government collaborate. 

Communities that collaborate win!

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!

Water Main Break Impact Analysis

Part of the responsibility of the GIS Consortium (GISC) is to collaborate between communities and to obtain shared solutions.  A recent request to estimate the impact of water main breaks was noted as having great potential to be a standard analysis that could be performed for all communities.

Considering this tool could be utilized by all GISC member communities, GISC staff took some time to create a model that evaluates water mains, water laterals, water valves, and addresses to achieve an estimate of households impacted by a water main break and the subsequent repair of that break.  The tool is flexible enough to review the community’s entire water system or just a specific area of interest.

 

It is expected this will be a powerful tool for Public Works and Engineering personnel to determine areas where they could decrease the number of residents impacted by water main breaks by proactively installing additional water valves.  These new water valves would create shorter sections of continuous water mains and therefore fewer residents would be impacted by future main brakes.

GIS Consortium 3D Mapping Potential

 

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 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.

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.

Expect the best when planning for the worst: Emergency Management in the GIS Consortium

​One of the core beliefs at MGP is to actively improve upon the past. But how do we make improvements to a process when its very nature is unpredictable? Such is the challenge with emergency response planning, as no two incidents are the same and emergencies are always unexpected. However, we learn a lot with each emergency event, and leverage this information to develop new tools for use in all GIS Consortium communities.

One of the challenges that every community faces in an emergency event is how to communicate with residents. One way to do this efficiently is to have a standard template that can be filled in with event-specific information at a moment’s notice. With this goal in mind, a team of MGP staff members reviewed the data from past severe weather events to look for patterns. Those commonalities were documented in GIS format and put into a template with a standardized naming convention and symbol set. Now, every community has a ready-to-use environment for collecting and storing information, which will save the time it would take to create something from scratch. In turn, communities can publish relevant information in that template to residents

 

La Grange and Schiller Park join the GIS Consortium

Good things come in pairs!  We are very excited to announce that both La Grange and Schiller Park have joined the GIS Consortium.  They are the 24th and 25th members respectively.  This is the first time in our 15-year history that two communities have joined in the same week.

 

On behalf of the GIS Consortium Board, its member community staffs, and MGP Inc. we want to welcome both communities and we look forward to working together to achieve your goals.