Using Business Intelligence to Track Home Foreclosures

In the past the Village of Northbrook, IL has worked with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to setup a process to help better record and track properties as they move through the foreclosure process.  This process involves a monthly review of mailed foreclosure documents and entry of dates into an excel spreadsheet correlating to when a lis pendens or pre-foreclosure notice is filed, when the property is found to be in foreclosure, and finally when the court approves the sale of that property and it is no longer in foreclosure.  Previously a static map was created from this information and sent to the Community Development and Planning Department and Police for use in their workflows.  With the new capabilities provided by Business Intelligence connections in the village’s browser-based mapping application, MapOffice™ Web Access, this process has been streamlined and provides increased access to the associated foreclosure information. 

To allow for this connection to occur, GIS created a database connection that allows Village Staff to query the information stored in the foreclosure spreadsheet in MapOffice™ by property status and date.  These query results are then displayed by location in MapOffice™ Web Access.  Using Business Intelligence, community staff has increased access to the information being tracked within the excel spreadsheet, where before they could only see the latest date and status for a specific property.  They also able to view the individual dates and gain a better understanding of the history behind a property.  Also, because the legal documents are scanned and stored by address within the village’s document management environment, a custom hyperlink is included with each entry which staff is able to click on to directly find and view the specific documents associated with the dates displayed on the map for verification or more information.

GIS Assists in Available Property Tour

The Village of Woodridge, IL encourages economic development in a variety of ways, but one of their most direct methods is hosting a tour of the village for real estate brokers and those interested in investing in property.  The tour is held each year, and begins at the Village Hall where attendees are greeted by members of the village.  The attendees then get on a bus that drives around the village, and Community Development staff work as guides to point out available properties and answer any questions.  To help give those attending a better idea of what a recent tour would entail, the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department was asked to create a map showing the proposed tour route and the planned stops.

Before utilizing GIS for the tour, staff relied on notes to determine the order of properties visited on the tour and information associated with them.  The Village now uses GIS to assist in this event by creating a map book.  This map book is distributed to attendees and it highlights the route of the tour in addition to displaying the properties they will be visiting.  This was also a great help to the staff so they could better manage their time when travelling from property to property, as well as to better relate answers that involved highlighting nearby amenities or other available properties. 

Deerfield Cemetery Searchable Map

The Village of Deerfield, IL Cemetery contains the burials site of many of the founding members of the community and other influential citizens that have resided within the boundaries of Deerfield over the history of the community. Up until recently, the only way to find information regarding burial locations in the cemetery was to go to the Deerfield Historical Society and view paper documents and books in various states of condition and quality.  To help make this information more accessible, the Deerfield Cemetery Association and the village’s Community Development department worked with the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department to provide a spatial solution to locating burial plots within the cemetery.   

Historical information such as burial location, historical accounts, and veteran status were collected and standardized so they could be easily integrated into the GIS environment.  All of this data was added to an online map application that allowed the burial plot locations to be viewed in conjunction with an aerial image of the cemetery. To make the information easier to access, a function was added to the map that allows for users to search for any person buried in the cemetery by section, birthdate, day of death, or by any part of their name.  By exposing this information in a spatial environment, the residents of Deerfield and genealogy researchers now have a tool to open up a new world of data. This map will also continue to evolve as more information and research are added to the online application.

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.

Regulating Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

In compliance with the Illinois Medical Cannabis Act (MCA) that was passed in August 2013, the Village of Mundelein wanted to identify areas where marijuana dispensaries might be allowed by law.  The village Chief of Police contacted the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Office about creating visual aids that could be used in a series of PowerPoint slides to show the restricted areas in the village defined by the law.

The first aid that was created was related to restrictions around residential areas, which showed that only 25 percent of the Village met the requirements for a possible dispensary location.  The next aid that was created related to schools, places of worship, and day care centers, all with a 1,000 foot buffer area displayed around them representing areas where dispensary locations are restricted under the law.  After combining these two types of regulations together, the only remaining areas where a dispensary could be opened were in the northwest and southeast corners of the Village.  This was the expected result, as these parts of the community contain large industrial and retail lots.

By creating these PowerPoint slides, the Police Department now has a tool to show residents, and others inquiring about that law, that there are not many areas where dispensaries are allowed.  The village Planning department also has a tool for identifying zoning districts where they might make changes to the ordnances to further limit where dispensaries can be built.  By using GIS to assist with this analysis,  the Police and Planning departments have a tool for combining complex information into a spatial environment for mapping, making it easier to identify all areas where dispensaries can and cannot be built.

Home Foreclosure Tracking

Within the Village every month homes are receiving notice, entering into, and being sold out of foreclosure.  These documents are mailed to Village hall and scanned electronically.  However, due to the constant change and sometimes long process involved it was difficult for the Community Development and Planning Department to easily keep track of specific properties.  GIS was asked to create a system to record and display which properties are involved in the foreclosure process, and their current status. 

At the end of every month GIS reviews the scanned documents and records on an excel spreadsheet the dates that a property receives a lis pendens or notice of foreclosure, is foreclosed upon, and is sold out of foreclosure.  This list of addresses is then geocoded and displayed on a map by status:  yellow for pending foreclosure, red for homes currently in foreclosure, and purple for homes that have come out of foreclosure.  This map is then distributed by email to both the Planning and Police departments for use.  Knowing which properties are involved in the foreclosure process is helpful to planning inspectors who check for code violations as well as police who are interested in knowing which homes may be vacant.  Moving forward as more data is collected and tracked GIS will be able to perform more in-depth analysis and look for possible trends.

GIS Assists in Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Planning

 

The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act has outlined where medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers cannot be located. Yet the burden is left up to the communities on where these facilities are to be located. The Pilot Program requires a cultivation center cannot be located within 2,500 feet of a school, daycare facility or within a residentially zoned area.  A dispensary cannot be located within 1000 feet of a school, daycare facility or within a residentially zoned area. Utilizing GIS, the Village of Lincolnshire was able to determine what areas of the Village were restricted by applying a 1,000 foot and 2,500 foot buffer around the daycare facilities.

The analysis provided a clear picture that a cultivation center cannot exist within the Village, but a number of areas within the Village could develop a dispensary. The 1,000 foot buffer had little impact on the main commercial district of the Village. Once this analysis was given to the Zoning Board they concluded a dispensary could only be located in the main commercial district (O/Id).  Displaying which parcels were vacant or available in that commercial district would present exactly which properties could be developed into a medical marijuana dispensary. GIS allows a community to confidently and efficiently plan for one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country, and recognize they are entirely within the law.

Using Interactive Mapping to View Available Commercial Properties

 

The City of Lake Forest, IL has developed an intuitive application that allows the public to view available commercial properties and related property information that are located throughout the city. Economic Development requested a method for staff and potential occupants to be able to quickly view vacant commercial properties. With the assistance of staff from the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department, the Economic Development department created a map application that will display the location of all properties. Each property will have a unique photo, as well as a comprehensive list of related information.

The first step is for GIS staff to acquire all of the locations and information. The available commercial properties were then mapped and the related information populated. The data will be loaded into an online map environment, called Story Maps, which is powered by ESRI’s ArcGIS Online application. The Story Maps interface provides a user the ability to host an inactive map showing localized data, in this case vacant commercial properties. The end result of this project will be a URL web link that is embedded on the city’s webpage. Once the Story Map is published users can view available properties. Once a property is chosen, additional information is displayed in a pop-up dialog box.

Creating this interactive map provides staff and potential occupants with a streamlined source of information. Users can be able to browse available properties without looking through a cumbersome word document or spreadsheet. Having this information in an intuitive format and in accessible location has proven to be a valuable and time saving resource.

Using Interactive Mapping to Search Historical Landmark Properties

The City of Lake Forest, IL has developed an intuitive application that allows the public to view historical landmark properties and related property information that are located throughout the city. Community Development requested a method for staff and residents to be able to search for historical properties by address or architect. With the assistance of staff from the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department, the Community Development department will created a map application that will display the location of all historical properties. Each property will have a unique photo, as well as a comprehensive list of related information.

The first step is for GIS staff to acquire all of the locations and information. The historic properties were then be mapped and the related information will be populated. The data will be loaded into an online map environment, called Story Maps, which is powered by ESRI’s ArcGIS Online application. The Story Maps interface provides a user the ability to host an inactive map showing localized data, in this case historical landmark properties. The end result of this project will be a URL web link that is embedded on the city’s webpage. Once the Story Map is published users can search property by address or architect. Once a property is chosen, additional information is displayed in a pop-up dialog box.

Creating this interactive map provides staff and residents with a streamlined source of information. Users can be able to browse historical landmark properties without looking through a cumbersome database. Having this information in an intuitive format and in accessible location has proven to be a valuable and time saving resource.

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!