Maintaining Village Property More Efficiently

The Village of Mundelein, IL owns a number of properties that require regular maintenance. This ranges from mowing and fertilizing to plant bed care. Every two years the Village seeks bids from contractors to service these areas. 

In the bid proposal, the Village includes a list of locations with site numbers. Each record in the list includes an address or description of the location and the type of maintenance required. Maps with the location of site numbers are included to make it easier for contractors to find and evaluate sites.

The Public Works Department asked the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Office to assist with this year’s bids by creating maps for each location. Since most sites are small, one requirement was to format maps so that several would fit on one page. Using the Data Driven pages toolbar in Esri’s ArcMap software, the GIS Office set up an atlas with four maps per page. Because map layers are linked to data, they can be quickly updated with new information.

The result is a win-win for the Village and its vendors. By including maps in bid proposals, contractors can accurately bid on maintenance.  And by leveraging the power of GIS, Public Works can automate the creation and updating of maps with greater efficiency.

Building Better Communication Community-Wide

Infrastructure improvements are invaluable in keeping a community running smoothly. Unfortunately, they can turn into annoyances when a road must be closed or a car is trapped in a driveway due to road resurfacing. That is why it’s important for municipalities to communicate effectively with their residents about upcoming and ongoing construction projects.

Traditionally communities created a report with details about ongoing construction. However, this was problematic for new residents, who may not be familiar with the street network, to understand exactly where projects are occurring. While some communities use a PDF map, this can confuse residents who may not easily connect the list of projects to locations on the map.

To get around some of these issues, the Village of Mundelein, IL decided to develop interactive map to display construction locations. Residents can click on the location of a project and immediately see information in a pop-up bubble. Projects are updated each week with their current status. The interactive map is a great tool for the Village to deliver timely information, promote transparency, and minimize inconvenience for the community.

Branching Out with a Better Tree Planting Route

Trees are one of the many assets that local municipalities manage on an annual or semi-annual basis. One of the ways to promote their vigor and longevity is to schedule plantings to replace damaged, diseased and dying trees. Often the Public Works or Forestry Department hires an outside contractor to handle the plantings. This spring, the Village of Schiller Park, IL called upon Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to create a map of planting locations and an optimal route for their third party contractor.

Public Works provided GIS with a list of addresses adjacent to each tree planting location. After mapping trees to the closest address, staff created an optimized route using GIS software to generate a sequential numbering system. This sequence was used to mark tree plantings, in order, from start to finish. The map was given to Public Works to distribute to the contractor.

By coordinating efforts and generating a map for both the village and third party contractor, staff saved valuable time that can be put towards other projects.

GIS Flushes Out Imperfect Water Quality

Hydrant flushing is an annual task that usually takes place in early spring and lasts approximately one month. Many may view this as a wasteful act or an inconvenience for commuters. However, it ensures the quality of water in village homes is free of discoloration, unpleasant taste and odor.

The build-up of sediment and deposits in the water distribution system causes these negative aspects. The most effective way to purge debris is through unidirectional flushing. This can be very taxing on Public Works departments because the locations of system valves, hydrants and pressurized mains must be identified prior to flushing. The Village of Wheeling, IL relies on unidirectional flushing and maps their entire water distribution system in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The GIS department in Wheeling created hydrant flushing map books to streamline the process for Public Works. (The image below shows a page in the map book.) Each page displays a specific flow boundary that isolates hydrants to their associated water main. Flushing empties the entire water main.

GIS also included the exact order each hydrant should be opened to maximize efficiency. (The red letters in the image below are the sequence for opening hydrants.) Utility map books are not uncommon in Public Works, but GIS provides the necessary customization so local government can more effectively serve the community.

Special thanks to Dustin Chernoff and Jeff Wolfgram in the Village of Wheeling Public Works for providing the necessary information.

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.