Integrating a tree inventory into GIS to streamline daily workflows


In 2013, the Village of Lincolnshire, IL hired The Davey Tree Expert
Company to collect an inventory of all Village-owned trees. This
inventory included trees not only in public rights-of-way, but also in
all nine public parks managed by the Public Works Department. When
completed, the Geographic Information System (GIS)-compatible database
held a total of 6,180 trees, stumps, and planting locations, all with
varying maintenance needs. Since the end product was GIS-compatible,
the on-site specialist was able to generate a number of products quickly
that support the daily workflows of both the Village arborist and the
Village Parks manager.

The biggest impact on daily workflow was the addition of custom
layers for display in the village’s interactive, browser-based mapping
application, MapOffice™ Advanced. Working with the Village arborist, the
GIS specialist created two layers: one that shows all Village-owned
trees, and one that highlights ash trees by their surveyed condition.
The arborist uses these layers daily in place of making multiple field
checks to confirm existing conditions. The ash tree layer also assists
the arborist in prioritizing the removal of trees that have become
hazards as a result of damage from the emerald ash borer.

While Davey Tree offers a software package for managing its tree
inventories, Lincolnshire made the decision to manage its inventory with
the GIS software it already owned. Not only does this save money on
additional product licenses, but it also shifts the workload of data
maintenance from part-time employees to the GIS specialist with
expertise in data management. Instead of maintaining a separate
database, Village staff reports updates to the specialist, who manages
the data as a normal part of the GIS program’s workflow.

GIS Assists in the Creation of a Disc Golf Map


Almost all communities contain parks and open space, but the vast
majority are managed by a local park district. In Lincolnwood, the Parks
and Recreation department is a village department and not a separate
entity. Lincolnwood Centennial Park recently underwent a huge renovation
which, among other things, included the creation of a nine-hole disc
golf course, better known as Frisbee golf. GIS was consulted to create
an overview map of the course, which would then be mounted on a sign at
start of the course to give players an idea of the locations of each
hole, the length between the start and finish of each hole, and any
possible obstacles that may be encountered along the way, such as trees,
bushes, or even cyclists or pedestrians using bike trails that
crisscross parts of the course.

Being that Lincolnwood Centennial Park is approximately one mile long
and less than 200 feet wide, a one foot by four foot map was produced
for this elongated nine-hole course. The map was created from park plans
and field checks. Once the map was completed, it was sent out to an
outside vendor for mounting in the field. There are also plans in the
future to create nine individual maps, one for each hole. Look for this
overview map to be welcoming players to the first tee box in the very
near future!

GIS Assists in Locating Flood Damaged Properties


The April 18th flood of this year wreaked havoc all around the
Midwest. Park Ridge residences were among those whose basements and
properties took a beating from the floodwaters. Residents were asked to
fill out an online survey to assess their individual flood damage. The
results of these surveys would be then passed on to the city and to
FEMA. The Department of Public Works is very interested in seeing if
there are any patterns of flooding from this ​current flood or a 2011
flood that also had an online survey available for residents to fill
out. GIS was chosen as the best method to quickly visualize any
potential patterns that may exist.

Address lists were provided to GIS from the surveys of both flooding
events. Each year was initially mapped individually and then compared
against each other. A map was subsequently created showing the locations
of properties damaged in both 2011 and 2013. Areas that have been
damaged by both flooding events will be studied more closely to see if
there are any improvements the city could make that would alleviate
future flooding. Without GIS, the thousands of addresses damaged by the
two floods would have to be manually located and drawn in on a map which
would take countless man hours as well as increase the probability of
error in the address locations.

Using MapOffice Display City Mowing and Landscape Maintenance


The Lake Forest Parks and Forestry Departments are in negotiations to
outsource their cul-de-sac and right-of-way landscaping maintenance.
Previously, city staff maintained these areas but a cost-benefit
analysis determined that the budget would be more efficiently spent by
contracting out the maintenance responsibilities. The city was looking
to develop an effective method to display maintenance areas while also
providing contractors a way to confidently and accurately bid on the

Using GIS, all of the proposed maintenance areas were mapped. While
creating the maintenance area boundaries, square footage was
automatically being generated. The Parks and Forestry Department now has
the ability to visually represent landscaping maintenance areas while
also being able to determine the amount of total square feet of an area.
This information can then be shared with contractors and in turn be
used to budget time and personnel commitments.

Rather than distributing printed maps to contractors, the Parks and
Forestry Department is also considering integrating the landscaping
maintenance area information onto MapOffice Public.

Contractors will be directed to MapOffice Public where they would
have the ability to visualize the maintenance areas as a custom overlay.
By selecting a specific area, square footage information would appear
in a dialog box. The bidding process for contractors can now be
expedited because they no longer have to acquire any materials from city
staff. The bidding reference material can now be available online.

Managing tree planting using GIS


The Village of Mundelein received a grant that provided the money for
132 trees this Spring. The new plantings will replace Ash trees and
other trees that were removed last summer. The Superintendent of
Streets wanted an easier to provide planting location information to a
contractor. He also wanted to track the progress of plantings to ensure
no locations were missed.

In previous years the planting were tracked using an Excel worksheet.
This method was inefficient because even though planting locations
could be sorted by address. It was difficult to review streets that
were in close proximity to each other. The Superintendent of Streets
enquired if the GIS Office could make a map showing the location of each
tree planting. He also requested that a table of planting information
for each for each tree be added to the map. The most important part of
the map would be adding consecutive numbers for each tree planting
location that correlated to a numbered recorded in the table. The GIS
Office quickly created this map by locating all the trees using
addresses. The numbers were assigned starting with the lowest numbers
in the northeast and snaking back and forth so that the highest numbers
ended up in the southeast corner of the Village. The table was then
exported back to a table so that each tree record had a number that
matched a location on the map.

By using the power of GIS the Superintendent of Streets received a
project that he could send to contractor who is planting the trees. The
Superintendent also has map and table to track the new planting

GIS used to encourage biking and walking in Lincolnshire


Lincolnshire is a picturesque village in Lake County, well known for
its mature trees, numerous parks, and attractively landscaped open
spaces. One of the best ways to enjoy the scenery is to walk or bike
around town using the wide local streets and recreational paths that
connect them. To encourage non-motorized traffic in the Village, GIS was
asked to update the hiking and biking trail map to highlight existing
routes as well as key points of interest. In addition to showcasing area
parks and retail shopping, visitors to Lincolnshire can also quickly
identify free parking and public drinking fountain locations. Local
schools are also marked so that parents can identify safe routes for
their children to use.

The end product is provided to the public in two formats, print
and interactive. The printable version is an 11-by-17 inch map that
visitors and residents can print out and keep as a general reference.
Anyone looking for greater detail can access the interactive version
online to determine precise locations of particular attractions or the
proximity of their homes to existing facilities. Both products can be
viewed on the Village’s website at

City uses GIS to locate new athletic facilities


The City of Lake Forest Park Recreation Department is considering
installing a new football field and or new soccer fields at Deerpath
Park. The flood way and flood plain for the Skokie River run through
Deerpath Park. It was important that any new facilities were not placed
in the flood plain. Another concern was how the new facilities would
fit into the existing park.

The City asked the GIS Office to assist with the analysis of the best
location to place new facilities. The City provided the GIS with a PDF
of a plan for an As Built for an existing football field and soccer
field. This image was scaled and overlaid on a base map and imagery.
Several maps showing the proposed football placed in different locations
were also produced.

It was finally decided that running the software live would allow the
images to be dragged and rotated to different locations. This allowed
the participants to visualize how different configurations would look in
the existing park and how close the new facilities would be to the
existing flood plain and flood way.

By using GIS software the City has a powerful visual tool for finding
the best location for a new football field and soccer field. They
could instantly see how the new facilities would look in the existing
park. Without GIS the city would have spent a tremendous amount of time
doing field surveys and measurements of the existing Park.

Tree trimming planning


​Riverside, IL has earned the moniker “Village in the Forest” thanks to
its planned design along the Des Plaines River with curvilinear streets,
expansive parkways, and forested areas. The beautiful landscape that
is Riverside does require maintenance, specifically tree trimming, in
order to maintain tree integrity, appearance, and maximize safety. The
Village’s Forestry personnel are using their Geographic Information
System (GIS) to manage their tree inventory and plan trimming efforts.
Tracking annual maintenance and their corresponding priority areas gives
staff precise records of past activities. Mapping future efforts in
the GIS allows staff to modify their plans if funding varies and
continue to manage the areas in most need. Maps are generated and
distributed when the time comes for the maintenance service company to
do the work as well. This gives Village staff confidence there will be
no misunderstandings of what trimming is expected and where.

Pedal in the Park Event


​Pedal the Parks is a special event put on by the Village of Lincolnwood
with the assistance of corporate sponsors from around the area. This
event aims at highlighting the importance of physical activity while
show casing the Village’s park system. The Village’s Geographic
Information System (GIS) played an important role in planning this event
which includes both a short and long route making this a family
friendly event. Multiple departments coordinated and planned the routes
for the enjoyment and safety of the participants. The short route
contains about 2.5 miles while the long route will take you 6.3 miles
while visiting 10 different parks. The event is set for May 19, 2012
from 10am to 3pm.

GIS Assists 0in Contracted Mowing Process


Spring is in the air and that means it’s once again time to dust off
the ole mower. Although, like many larger municipalities, Tinley Park
has decided to ditch the mower, and the yearly maintenance and higher
labor costs that come along with the mower. The Village will contract
out mowing responsibilities to a private landscaping company. This
allows the Village to save on equipment maintenance costs, fuel and
labor by paying a company who specializes in landscaping, providing a
cheaper overall cost to the Village.

Previously the contractor was given an Excel table with the
locations, and tractor types for each mowing area. The contractor would
then estimate total mowing costs by visiting the 100+ sights. This was
neither accurate nor efficient. When input into the GIS system that
same table can be stored, tracked and most important displayed in a way
that is more intuitive. Another very important advantage to managing
the data in GIS is it can also provide an accurate estimate of the
square footage, acreage or any other standard metric the contractor
requires for measuring the mowing area. This allows the Village to
receive a fair bid and not be over charged and ensures that the
contractor has a better understanding of what exactly needs to be and
does not need to be mowed.