GIS Keeps Water and Revenue Flowing

Aging infrastructure affects not only water delivery, but the revenue stream in municipalities. When water mains leak or break, the Village of Tinley Park, IL responds quickly to assess the damage and fix the problem.

Over time, sections of the water main leak or break repeatedly, prompting replacement. To be more proactive in determining which pipes to replace, the village’s Public Works department turned to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff to analyze incidents over location and time and determine which sections are high priority.

The analysis compared the age, location, and number of incidents on each pipe section throughout the village. By comparing the density of leaks and breaks within a 33-year period and a more recent 10-year period, those sections with the most incidents were identified and highlighted in maps.

Using these maps, Public Works easily prioritized which ones to replace in the upcoming year. The GIS analysis also gave staff insight into areas of town where leaks and breaks would likely occur in the future.

Shedding Light on Data Collection in the Field

The Village of Mundelein, IL sought more cost-effective ways to gather utility information in the field. In the past, the village paid an outside engineering firm to collect GPS points for water, storm, and wastewater systems. These inventories were expensive and, as a result, conducted every three years.

With the recent purchase of enhanced mobile tablets and improved access to low-cost or free data collection applications, Geographic Information Systems (GIS) recommended a new approach.  After researching options, they encouraged the village to run a pilot project using a mobile data collection application, called Collector, on a tablet.  The Director of Public Works selected street light control cabinets for the test because they are limited in number and easy to locate. 

GIS set up the pilot using Collector, which enables data to be easily synchronized back to the master GIS data. Recently-collected points were made available to all village employees through the GIS Consortium’s interactive, browser-based application, MapOffice™. 

The application was field tested with three control cabinet locations. The Engineering staff were impressed by how easy it was to collect points and populate information and decided to complete the project by collecting the remaining cabinets. Based on the success of the pilot, Mundelein is looking at future uses for Collector, such as creating an inventory of street lights and signs.

GIS Paves the Way for Resurfacing Projects in Schiller Park

Despite bitter cold and abundant snow, the Village of Schiller Park, IL knew warmer weather can reappear virtually overnight in the Midwest. With spring and summer fast approaching, the village wanted to start planning for Capital Improvement Projects (CIP), such as road resurfacing or utility main replacement. Yet, they were relying on outdated maps that only showed when roadways were last resurfaced and do not provide a history of other work that was done.

How could the Village of Schiller Park update their map and plan ahead for resurfacing projects? With articles, marked-up maps, and other correspondence in hand, staff called upon Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to pave the way for an accurate accounting of the village’s CIP history.

GIS compiled all notes from previous years and tapped into the knowledge base of several village employees to visualize when roads were last resurfaced. This was accomplished by using existing road features and adding in the years when roads were last paved.  To best illustrate the age and history of road resurfacing, GIS created a map a range of color, with red indicating older roads and blue representing new ones. Now village staff can reference the map at-a-glance and focus on streets that need attention.

GIS Streamlines Asset Management, in the Field and on the Fly

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is helping mobile workers capture and update information with ease. The public works department in the Village of Glen Ellyn, IL recently purchased Cartegraph OMS, a work order and asset management system. This new web-based system will enhance daily workflow in a number of ways. Now Public Works employees can quickly access inventories for different village assets – such as trees, street signs, and sign supports – and add to or edit them in the field. 

How did GIS assist with the development, quality control, and deployment of these inventories? First, existing GIS inventories were added into the Cartegraph OMS program. Then, users accessed an asset geographically within Cartegraph using the familiar MapOffice™ base map. They can look at it at a desk in the office or on a tablet in the field. In addition to viewing the asset, they can edit information about it add a new asset. 

Let’s say a forester sees a tree and discovers its location and diameter are wrong. Now he or she can correct it in the field using Cartegraph. The forester can also add a new tree based on a physical planting location plus any relevant attributes. Currently, trees, street signs, and sign supports can be edited in Cartegraph. Sewer, water utilities, and streetlights will be added in the next few months.

An employee’s ability to revise and add information right in the field makes a significant difference in asset management. It accelerates and improves the accuracy of inventories and enables data to be updated simultaneously in both Cartegraph and the GIS system. The result is timely information that can be easily accessed for quick fixes to maps and other data analyses.

Aggregating Data and Analyzing Localized Flooding

Locating and addressing storm water and flooding issues are an important responsibility of any community and their Public Works Department.  The Village of Northbrook, IL Public Works Department began to look at localized flooding by aggregating multiple sources of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data into a single platform.

GIS was asked to compile multiple sources of data including known flooding areas, current building footprints, historic aerial photography, FEMA floodways, and residential construction permits.  The village’s browser-based mapping application, MapOfficeTM, is the perfect interactive mapping application in which to hold all of these data sets using already accessible tools, such as historic aerial photography dating back to 1998 and a tool to display the FEMA floodways, and the ability to create custom layers for display.

With the aggregated data, Public Works looks for trends that might correlate residential construction with known localized flooding.  Residential construction permit data dating back to 1998 was collected from the Planning department’s databases and added as a custom layer in MapOfficeTM, along with known flooding areas provided by Public Works and building footprints data held in GIS.  Now, Public Works staff can compare current building footprints to historic building footprints using aerial photography and see when and what type of residential construction took place.  Staff can now look for trends in residential construction and increases in building footprint square footage to see if those might be contributing factors to local flooding issues.  Trends in residential construction can also help Public Works to plan future storm water projects to prevent flooding.

Aggregating this information in MapOfficeTM has been a crucial and effective tool in assisting the village with identifying potential problem areas for flooding and developing strategies to mitigate flooding in the future.

Using GIS to Manage Sewer Utility Maintenance

The Village of Mundelein, IL Public Works waste water division uses Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in three ways to track sewer maintenance progress.  The first method involves using a series of map atlases created using the Esri ArcGIS Desktop software. These atlases show sections of sewer that routinely need roots cleared or that need to be regularly degreased.  One advantage of this approach is that these atlases can be quickly changed as old issues are resolved and new issues develop.

The second method is using the Utility Editing tool that available in the village’s browser-based mapping application, MapOffice™ Web Access.  Through this tool, an employee selects lines and updates the dated flushed after each segment of pipe is flushed.  This information is then added to a map showing where recent backups have occurred.  This way the waste water division can monitor their progress to ensure they are fixing sewers that caused issues in the past.

The final way waste water monitors sewer conditions is by mapping comments collected during sewer televising effort directly in MapOffice™ Web Access.  This allows them to quickly see where clusters of sewers issues are located.  Then they can review to determine if additional areas need to be added to the root cutting and grease atlases.

Using GIS in a variety of ways allows the waste water division to monitor the condition of sewer pipes.  This information is used to ensure work crews know what type of maintenance is required.  It also allows them to track where sewers have been flushed and to plan for future sewer flushing schedules.

Using GIS to Find Population Affecting Outfalls

The Village of Morton Grove, IL was required by the EPA to conduct an analysis of the population affecting the sewer outfalls in the village. The EPA needed to know how many people contributed to each outfall through the village sewer system. Using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a study was done to find the sewer system pipes that connect homes to each outfall and then compare this to the population of the village.

First, census data was used to find the population of Morton Grove by census block. Then, because the sewer system is connected throughout the village, desktop GIS software was used to derive which homes and areas were connected throughout this system to each outfall. Comparing these two yielded the population that contributed to the drainage from each outfall.

Morton Grove was able to accurately respond to the question posed by the EPA and deliver a map and analysis along with their report. Having an accurate and connected sewer system through GIS was an important aspect to allow this kind of analysis to take place.

How MapOffice™ Web Access has Eliminated GIS Software Costs

The City of Lake Forest, IL has recently eliminated the need and cost of having ArcGIS software on each of their utility locate field laptops. Now using an online application called MapOffice™ Web-Access (MOWA), Public Works staff now has the ability to perform their required tasks without the need to carry additional software costs. Previously the four utility laptops were equipped with desktop GIS software that required an annual maintenance fee. This software was not designed as a basic map viewing environment, which resulted in a challenging user experience for the Public Works staff as they would periodically need the guidance of GIS personnel in order to accomplish basic tasks. The laptops would also have to be decommissioned quarterly to perform data updates, which resulted in a brief stoppage of work.

The first step in migrating from the desktop software environment was to have the City of Lake Forest’s IT department work with GIS staff to implement MapOffice™ Web-Access within the city to allow it to be accessed from any city workstation or laptop.  Once MOWA is accessed, a login will be prompted to ensure data security. Due to the internet accessibility on the utility locate laptops, MOWA could now be utilized in the field as a substitute for the existing GIS desktop software. To make it easy for the Public Works staff to access and use MOWA, a shortcut link was placed on each of the laptop desktops and an initial training session was held for Public Works staff to provide them an opportunity to learn and ask question about the application.

The implementation of MapOffice™ Web-Access has greatly reduced the city’s GIS licensing costs and provided a more efficient method for Public Work staff to accomplish their utility locate duties. City staff also has an intuitive application that no longer requires a heavy learning investment and the laptops no longer need quarterly updates because the data is updated via the internet without interrupting use.

Flood Location Mapping for a Series of Rain Events

During the summer of 2014 the Village of La Grange, IL experienced multiple high intensity rain events that exceeded the capacity of the village’s sewer system, resulting in flooded basements, streets, and rear yards.   On August 22nd, 2014, approximately 4.24 inches of rain fell over the area in a short amount of time.  In this and several other heavy rain events in June, water flowed overland and pooled in depression areas, resulting in water entering houses through window wells and other low openings. This event caused numerous basement backups throughout the village, of which the Public Works Department received hundreds of reports of flooding and damage as a result.  To help the department get a better picture of the extent of the flooding, they asked the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department to map all the locations where a flooding call was reported to see if there were any patterns that could be determined.

As a new member of the GIS Consortium, the village’s Public Works Director called upon GIS to map out the addresses provided by the callers in order to distinguish where concentrations of various types of flooding occurred. The GIS department took the address and flooding type list provided by Public Works and mapped these addresses against the address database in La Grange. This plotted out the points on a map and the points were symbolized according to the flooding type. The maps were used as tools to best deploy resources and understand areas of focus and concern.

Field Collection of Lighting Infrastructure

The Village of Glenview, IL streets contain over 1,800 street lights and taking care of them is a daunting task even in the best of circumstances.  By leveraging the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department, the Public Works department was able to put in place a procedure to more rapidly and accurately collect data about their own lighting network to assist with asset management activities.

By utilizing an application called ArcGIS Online Collector, the GIS and Public Works staff were able to collaborate and design a process that is simple to use in the field, easy to learn, and function in all types of conditions. The Collector application is able to run on both Android and Apple tablets and smartphones, providing additional flexibility to staff with how and when they could collect the necessary information in the field.

In addition to tracking the physical location of the light infrastructure in the village, this application also allows village staff to track issues with certain lights, repair history, and parts needed to fix parts of the network. In addition to collecting information about a particular light, the application also allows for the capture of photographs of the lights that can be uploaded instantaneously to a server environment.  Is allows staff back in the office to review the data collection as needed without having to travel into the field to do so.  All of this data is easily accessible through an online interface and is available for download and implementation into a work order tracking spreadsheet.

By utilizing this mobile technology, the Village of Glenview is able to have a more accurate picture of their assets in the field.  This provides both staff in the office and staff in the field a centralized environment to access and modify asset information, thereby saving time on duplicated work efforts and money on staff time spent looking for the most current information.