Retention Pond Mapping

Retention ponds can play a vital role in storm water management and flood control.  The Northbrook Public Works Department worked with GIS in order to help map and track the retention ponds in the Village.  Previously, a spreadsheet with an address was used to track the location of retention ponds.  Public Works wanted to ability to visualize these locations on a map while still maintaining the information available through the spreadsheet.

So, what is the purpose of tracking retention pond locations and what information is valuable to know about them?  First, it was very important for Public Works to know the locations of the outfalls.  During heavy rain events, the outfalls can become backed up and prevent water from flowing as designed.  It is important that the outfalls become cleared quickly.  By mapping those locations as a custom overlay on MapOfficeTM Public Works can then spend less time looking for outfalls and get them cleared sooner.

Public Works also tracks who is responsible for retention ponds and clearing any blockages.  When a call comes in about a blockage, Public Works can easily see who is responsible and notify the caller if it is a private retention pond.  The custom overlay will also be available to the public so they can gather this information themselves. 

Other Village departments can also benefit from the tracking of the retention ponds, especially in the centralized location of MapOffice.  Engineering can store information such as pond volume or hyperlinks to drawings.  The Fire Department can track depths in the case divers are needed during missing person searches.

GIS Supports Hydrant Flushing Efforts

The Village of Mundelein, IL conducts annual hydrant maintenance in which the Public Works Department’s Water Division flushes each hydrant and creates a list of hydrants that need repair.  After the flushing and maintenance is complete, the Water Division submits a report describing which hydrants where flushed and which hydrants were repaired.  Previously, to track progress through the village, the Water Division would print out paper map pages created in CAD and highlight the streets with a maker as a way to indicate the areas they have worked on.  In 2014, they asked the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) office to create a simple map book, with a page created for each area that they were planning to work in, to make it easier for them to locate hydrants and track progress.

Using Esri’s ArcGIS Desktop software, the GIS office staff created this book, with each flushing area shown on 1-3 pages, with only the hydrants for each specific flushing area shown.  A unique ID for each hydrant was also displayed on the individual map pages to allow staff to match a hydrant in the field to hydrant records in a corresponding Excel worksheet being updated with the information for each hydrant that was gathered during the flushing process.  These cleaner looking and functional maps made locating the hydrants much easier than in the past.  In addition to creating products to help locate the hydrants, the Director of Public Works requested that the GIS office also create a map once all work was completed showing which hydrants were flushed and repaired based on the final reports submitted by the Water Division flushing crews.  This map was easily created using the existing map pages created for the hydrant locating map book and can be used moving forward to assist with planning future hydrant flushing work.

Using GIS, the Water Division now has a good visual tool for tracking hydrant flushing progress.  They are also able to enhance their hydrant flushing reporting process by adding a graphic component that shows where the work was done and where they may need to focus their maintenance efforts in future years.

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.

Northbrook Maps Fiber Network US GIS

​The Village of Northbrook has many utility systems and features that it maintains and tracks.  One such system is the fiber optic network.  Fiber optic cable has been laid throughout the Northbrook to provide fast and secure internet and communication for both Village and other governmental agency buildings.  While not all of the fiber network is owned and maintained by the Village it is necessary to keep track of its location to prevent damage during construction work or for repairs and maintenance.  For these reasons GIS was asked to assist in entering, maintaining, and providing maps for locates.  To complete this project the GIS specialists combined imported CAD data from the Village and field notes from the JULIE locator to enter the most up to date fiber location information possible.  After being reviewed by Public Works staff, a custom overlay was created and added to MapOffice Web Access detailing overhead vs underground, status, and ownership of the lines.  Also included are the locations of hand holes, poles, and splice points.  By making this map available on the MapOffice web application, staff in the field doing JULIE locates can easily pull up the information on their field laptops for use as well as send updates and additions using the ‘Markup’ tool from the field.  Additionally, maintaining this utility network in GIS provides the Northbrook IT department with a clear picture of where their important fiber optic assets are located across the Village, and can be used to help locate outages if they occur.

Mobile GIS Makes its Debut in Riverside

The Village of Riverside, IL has over 1,700 street signs within its 2 square mile municipal boundary, which equates to one street sign every 10 feet.  Combine the number of signs in town with a small, full-time public works staff, and the result is the management and maintenance of the street sign inventory being a cumbersome undertaking.  To assist with managing this inventory, the Public Works staff asked the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff to create a process that would allow the department to store and update the inventory in a digital environment. 

Recently, a mobile GIS data viewing and editing application, called Collector, was released by a GIS software company called Esri.  The Collector application is available for use on the Apple or Android tablets already owned by the village, so no additional hardware costs were needed.   The licensing for this application is included in a bundle with the GIS desktop software licensing the village already pays for, which adds further value to the program without the need to spend additional funds.   The Collector application allows Riverside’s Public Works staff to update a sign’s location, maintenance, and condition information in the field as part of their everyday workflow.  More importantly when the staff member updates the sign information, the changes are seen instantly on the device and are available to staff throughout the village within 48 hours as a layer in the village’s web-based mapping application, MapOffice™.  Having the ability to make changes to the inventory digitally removes the need of owning and operating large format printers that are typically used for printing paper maps for use in the field and reduces the turnaround time for making the most up-to-date information available to all village staff.

GIS Assists with Sidewalk Condition Survey

The Village of Riverside, IL recently conducted a condition survey of all the sidewalks in the village as part of a larger sidewalk management plan, aimed at keeping the village’s sidewalks in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The survey was conducted by a third party sidewalk survey contactor and the data was collected using mobile mapping software and mobile smart devices. The final survey was delivered to the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff as a formatted Excel table with latitude and longitude coordinate readings captured from the mobile smart devices for each sidewalk square that was surveyed.  Using these coordinates, the GIS staff was able to easily map the survey locations and create products that can be used by local village Public Works staff when spot checking the sidewalk survey results.  The map products were also very helpful in providing information to crews that were hired to repair sidewalk that was in poor condition, displaying exactly where and what type of work needed to be done throughout the village.

Adopt-A-Roadway Management

​The Village of Mundelein is the process of implementing an Adopt-A-Road program.  These programs provide opportunities for groups to adopt a section of roadway and get involved in helping to maintain it by picking up litter and trash.  This program is part of a bigger effort to make the Village look more attractive to both residents and visitors alike and a critical component of the program is tracking which sections of road are available and which sections are already adopted by groups.

To assist with tracking this information in a way that is easily consumable by those answering questions about the program, the Assistant Director of Public Works asked the Geographic Information Systems (GIS) office to create a map to hang on the wall in Public Works showing all potential Adopt-A-Roadway sections in the Village.  The sections were color coded red to show sections that were adopted and green for available sections.  This map provides a quick view for staff of which segments are available so they can contact organizations near those areas to determine if any of them are interested in adopting the roadway. 

A future is step in the project is creating a custom layer showing potential roadway sections for display in the village’s interactive web-based mapping application, MapOffice™, which is accessible by anyone from the village website.  Exposing this information on the village website will allow interested organizations to find their own available road segments and place a request to adopt them by referencing a hyperlink to the road adoption form that will be associated with each road segment in the map.  By using GIS the village is leveraging a powerful tool to better manage and promote the Adopt a Roadway program and ensure that future programs like it have a model of success to follow.    

Tree Asset Management Support

The Village of Morton Grove, IL recently undertook the challenge of creating a database of tree assets in their village, locating them and attributing these locations with size and species. Doing this allows for the village to conduct better asset management, including predicting more accurate maintenance times and creating a budget for tree operations. For this project, the Morton Grove Public Works staff recognized the value in collecting this data in a form that could easily be consumed by the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for display and analysis in a spatial environment.

The project started with department staff collecting an inventory of trees currently in the field, marking down information such as closest address, species, and canopy cover diameter, while also keeping these fields consistent with their internal department needs as well as with what was required for integration with a GIS database. This effectively doubled the efficiency of their collection efforts and allowed for a quick turnaround of the data being available in GIS for mapping and other analysis.  Now that they have a complete inventory of trees in a spatially enabled environment, Morton Grove is able to accurately predict and plan out projects involving trees more effectively using the actual location of the tree in the field.

Using the tree location information stored in GIS, staff can now view a tree inventory layer in the village’s web-based mapping application, MapOffice™, represented by species, size, or any other information that was collected in the field.  This saves staff time by preventing unnecessary trips into the field to identify this information, as well as providing information to assist with things like developmental permit reviews and other village processes. By taking a planned data collection process and integrating it early into a GIS environment, the Village of Morton Grove was able to increase the efficiency of their tree management efforts and ultimately gain a complete picture of their tree assets within the village.

GIS Assists with Capital Project Public Outreach

​The Village of Deerfield, IL prides itself on operating in an accessible and open manner with full transparency to its residents and those interested in learning more about the village.  In keeping with these values, the village Engineering department approached the Geographic Information System (GIS) staff with a request to help make progress of seasonal construction projects more visible to the public, highlighting how the project develops over the construction season.

In 2015, the village embarked on large scale resurfacing, replacement, and reconstruction projects of seven major roads.  By utilizing GIS, an online map was created for the village website that displays each project area and pictures showing the before condition of the road to be replaced.  By clicking on each picture, more information about the details of each project can be learned, including appropriate contact information for village staff in case any questions or concerns may arise from the work being done. Additional links located in the map allow village residents to subscribe to a given construction project and receive emails at regular intervals providing progress updates for that project.

The future of this online map is to create a before, during, and after display of pictures that shows the gradual progression of each active project.  Eventually, this product will also contain a repository of all documented historical construction projects in the village and provide employees and residents with an easy-to- use tool to search construction history.

Providing Contractors Information using GIS

Each spring, The City of Lake Forest, IL Forestry Department places there mowing maintenance responsibilities out for contractual bid. Mowing maintenance include areas that require weekly mowing and that are managed by the city. Since the mowing is not performed internally, landscaping companies place a bid on the project. Once a winning bid has been chosen, the landscaping company requires a set of reference maps illustrating the mowing sites. Previously, GIS staff would create mapbooks, having a page for each mowing site. Recently, an interactive, online mapping application called Story Maps was developed to provide contractors a means of viewing the mowing sites on their mobile device.


The first step is for GIS staff to acquire the mowing site information from the Forestry Department. The mowing sites will then be mapped and the related information will be populated. The locations and data will be loaded into the Story Map, which is powered by ESRI’s ArcGIS Online application. The Story Map’s interface provides a user the ability to host an inactive map showing localized data, in this instance, mowing sites. The end result of this project will be a URL web link that will be provided to the contractors.

Creating an interactive map rather than using paper mapbooks will provide contractors with easy to manage reference material. Rather than transporting a mapbook with hundreds of pages, contractors can reference their phone to search to a desired area. The Story Map also contains a GPS function that will allow users to identify their location within the map. Having this information in an intuitive format on a mobile application allows residents a streamlined and innovative experience.