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!

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.

Integrating a Custom Document Management System with GIS

The Village of Tinley Park, IL Planning Department was recently searching for a way to access scanned property plan documents using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), which entails being able to search for a property using a map interface and viewing any documents associated with that property.  In order to leverage the capabilities of the village’s internet browser based mapping application, MapOffice™ Advanced, a new method for maintaining plan documents had to be established so that the planners could easily add documents to the village document management system and make them available in a spatial environment for viewing. 

To implement this functionality, a directory was created on the village network that contains folders for every address in the village.  Once a plan document is scanned into a digital format, a user can save that document in the appropriate property address folder for reference.  To help automate the process of connecting a document to its associated property in the GIS address data, a custom script was created that iterates through the entire folder directory and, if any new documents have been added, it adds that document name to a master reference list.  This list is then used to update the connection to MapOffice™ Advanced, thereby allowing users to access these documents in a spatial medium. Since most of this process is automated, the only task the village planners have to do is add documents to the correct property address folder and they will be available to access in MapOffice™ Advanced soon afterwards.

This process can be implemented for many types of documents, which makes it appealing for staff which may not have access to a formal document management system or if the current process of updating documents in a formal system is confusing or time consuming.  By leveraging the power of GIS, village planners now have an easy-to-use tool for accessing plan documents in an environment that naturally ties that document to the physical property it’s associated with.