Using GIS to Keep Unwanted Urban Critters in Check

Rodents, and rats in particular, are a persistent nuisance and potential health hazard in any urban area. If left uncontrolled, these critters multiply rapidly and wreak havoc on the environment they share with the larger human population. Communities must be proactive in keeping the rat population low.

The City of Park Ridge, IL sought an effective way to combat their growing population of rats. They called on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to help with their efforts. GIS evaluated the locations in the city with the greatest number of rat complaints and sightings and the relation to paved/unpaved alleys. Using data collected over the past six years, numbers were mapped and a hot-spot analysis was performed. This analysis depicts locations on the city map in varying shades of color to show how dense or sparse rat populations are in a particular area based on the number of complaints received.

Drawing on this key data, the city’s health department determined which neighborhoods are most heavily affected by rats, and where and what number of bait boxes should be placed in sewers this spring. Due to GIS’s involvement in the project, the City of Park Ridge is confident they are targeting sectors with the greatest amount of rat activity and controlling the rising rodent population.

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.

GIS supports Village Commission in goal to make Northbrook more ‘bicycle-friendly”

 

There are a number of Boards and Commissions within the Village of Northbrook that allow for residential leadership and input on various community topics.  One such group is the Northbrook Bicycle Task Force who works "…to coordinate all bicycle-related initiatives within the community and to review the need for access to bicycle transportation on behalf of the Village…to determine the existing needs, and to make recommendations to make the Village of Northbrook more ‘bicycle-friendly"

The Northbrook Bicycle Task Force approached GIS to help create an online map that residents could use to easily view the recommended and available routes throughout the Village.  GIS was able to digitize the majority of the routes from a paper map that was created for the Task Force by the League of Illinois Bicyclists which ranked the routes by comfort level.  Next, additional trails and information were added based on review by the Task Force members before the map was added to the Village’s online interactive mapping application, MapOffice, for public viewing as a custom overlay.  Also included on the map are difficult intersections, trails, bike rack locations, emergency service buildings, schools, Metra stations, and public facilities for reference.  Now residents are able to easily access and learn more about biking in the Village of Northbrook at their convenience.  Additionally, GIS was able to create a letter sized paper map for the Bicycle Task Force to distribute at various community events they participate in such as the Earth and Arbor Day Celebration.

Highland Park Launches Community Portal

 

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!

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.

Clinic Referrals for Uninsured and Underinsured Residents

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The Personal Health Division within the Health Department at the
Village of Skokie provides numerous services to its residents. From
immunizations to testing for diabetes, the Health Department offers a
wide range of clinics at affordable prices. There are however, services
that the Health Department simply does not have the resources to offer.

To aid residents seeking for health services not offered at the
Village, the Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to
provide a map of available clinics in the Greater Chicagoland area for
uninsured and underinsured residents. This map is used as a brochure at
the Health Department for an easy way to guide an individual to a clinic
that will service their needs. The map highlights five clinics,
detailing their respective addresses and where they are spatially
located in the Chicagoland area. Without GIS the Health Department
would not be able to provide an easy-to-read map that allows residents
to choose the clinic that is closest and most convenient for them.

Model communities grant program

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One of the biggest challenges for local government is determining
funding that will significantly cover anticipated project costs for a
particular budget year. While most of this funding can be covered by a
department’s budget, additional sources of money are often needed to
cover new projects or programs that come up throughout the year.
Federal or state grants can typically serve as a medium for this
additional funding and have become a fundamental part of most local
government departments. For the City of Des Plaines IL, the Model
Communities grant was a recent opportunity to receive funding for
implementing city programs aimed at improving the overall health of city
residents.

Supported by the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) and
the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, the Model
Communities Grant Program provided the city with a unique opportunity to
acquire federal funding for the design and implementation of public
health initiatives. Funded by a $4 million federal grant called
Communities Putting Prevention to Work, the city needed to provide
information, through the grant application, on why it would be an
eligible candidate for part of the allotted funds.

To assist with this effort, the city’s GIS (Geographic Information
Systems) department was asked to supply numerous mapping products and
statistics for a wide-range of community information, including all
agencies in and around the city that would benefit from the funds, the
number of schools in lower income 2000 census block groups, and the
percentage of minority residents within 2000 census block groups.
Displaying this information through mapping products tied the statistics
and numbers in the grant application to a real-world location and
helped to visualize the positive impact any received funds would make.

As a result of the hard work put in by city staff members, in
combination with the information and products provided from the city’s
GIS, the city was recently awarded a $96,000 grant from the Model
Communities program. With this money, the city hopes to supplement
existing community programs and implement new ones that can help to make
the city a healthier place to live.

Model communities grant program

Blog_Modelcommunitiesgrantprogram.jpg

One of the biggest challenges for local government is determining
funding that will significantly cover anticipated project costs for a
particular budget year. While most of this funding can be covered by a
department’s budget, additional sources of money are often needed to
cover new projects or programs that come up throughout the year.
Federal or state grants can typically serve as a medium for this
additional funding and have become a fundamental part of most local
government departments. For the City of Des Plaines IL, the Model
Communities grant was a recent opportunity to receive funding for
implementing city programs aimed at improving the overall health of city
residents.

Supported by the Cook County Department of Public Health (CCDPH) and
the Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago, the Model
Communities Grant Program provided the city with a unique opportunity to
acquire federal funding for the design and implementation of public
health initiatives. Funded by a $4 million federal grant called
Communities Putting Prevention to Work, the city needed to provide
information, through the grant application, on why it would be an
eligible candidate for part of the allotted funds.

To assist with this effort, the city’s GIS (Geographic Information
Systems) department was asked to supply numerous mapping products and
statistics for a wide-range of community information, including all
agencies in and around the city that would benefit from the funds, the
number of schools in lower income 2000 census block groups, and the
percentage of minority residents within 2000 census block groups.
Displaying this information through mapping products tied the statistics
and numbers in the grant application to a real-world location and
helped to visualize the positive impact any received funds would make.

As a result of the hard work put in by city staff members, in
combination with the information and products provided from the city’s
GIS, the city was recently awarded a $96,000 grant from the Model
Communities program. With this money, the city hopes to supplement
existing community programs and implement new ones that can help to make
the city a healthier place to live.

Reserved residential parking

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The Village of Skokie’s Human Services Department manages a program
aimed at providing reserved on-street parking for residents with special
needs. This program has certain guidelines depicting how many permits
can be issued along certain lengths of roadway. The ordinance states:

“The number of reserved disability parking spaces on any 1
residential street shall not exceed 25 percent of the available parking
spaces on each side of a block.”

The ordinance now has a geographic reference which enables the
Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) to get involved. The Human
Services director began a dialog to see if any residential street is in
violation of the existing Village Code. By plotting the location of the
Reserved Residential Parking Program participants and grouping
addresses within close proximity, the GIS analyzed the data and found
the Village to be in compliance with the Code.