Insurance Services Office (ISO) Audit Support

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The Insurance Services Office (ISO) is the fire industry standard
bearer for developing and implementing risk mitigation standards that
local and regional fire departments use for managing their internal
assets, requesting capital improvements, and providing training to
department personnel in an effort to reduce the over risk of
fire-related problems within their respective response areas. Every
ten years, the ISO conducts a department audit to measure how equipped
the department is in handling a fire event and to determine the level of
risk they carry based on certain criteria, such as number and location
of available hydrants and the condition of the department’s vehicles.
For the Village of Winnetka, IL Fire Department, this audit was recently
conducted and, in order to help display some of the available
department assets and other functions the department is capable of, the
department turned to the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
Department to assist with developing a series of maps that were provided
to the ISO auditor to use as a visual review tool.

Some of the map products requested by the department include
fire hydrant location and flow rate maps, building sprinkler system
installation maps, and vehicle drive time and standard of coverage maps
that were used to show the area covered by the department’s vehicles
within a certain period of time. For the drive time and standard of
coverage maps, the department provided the GIS Department with the
standard response time they use to measure against for response
efficiency, less than 4 minutes, and asked that several maps be
generated showing both the total area that could be covered by the
department vehicles and how far they could cover within the specified
time. The data for these maps was created in less than a day using a
road network analysis tool available in the GIS software used by the
village GIS personnel and all maps were completed and made available for
review by the ISO auditor within two weeks of being requested. Without
GIS, this process would have taken considerably longer and may not have
been completed in time for the department’s audit, which would have put
the department at a disadvantage for being able to convey the
information they wanted to share.

Using GIS to assist with the Fire Department’s ISO audit gave
the department staff a collection of powerful visual tools that provide
proof that the department has taken the necessary steps to mitigate fire
risk within the village and is properly equipped to respond to fire
events. Without using GIS, while some of the requested information
could be provided, the amount of time needed by department staff to
compile that information would be significant, which could result in a
delay in the audit’s completion or, in the case of the vehicle drive
time maps, prevent the department form providing the auditor with vital
information regarding the department’s response capabilities.

Zoning Variance Document Links in MapOffice

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Leveraging geospatial technology to make a department, or
departments, within municipal government more efficient can take on many
different forms. For the Village of Winnetka, IL Community Development
Department, this involved integrating scanned zoning variance documents
with an existing GIS mapping application and using the application’s
address search tool to locate the documents. These efforts involved
working closely with the Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS)
department to ensure that the scanned documents were properly linked to
the correct locations in the village so they could be easily searched.

The first step in managing this type of external data
integration is making sure the data in updated in a timely manner, to
make sure that the searchable data is current and provides the most
benefit to the department. To that end, a process was setup where
department staff notifies the GIS department when a new document is
scanned, which ensures that there is no lag time between when the
document is available and when it can be accessed via the GIS
application. The next step in this process was to create the links
between the documents and their associated spatial locations. This was
done by having the GIS department map a list of variance document
locations provided by Community Development and, within the GIS data,
link the mapped location to the village network drive where their
associated scanned variance documents are stored. The final step was
to take the mapped, linked GIS variance data and add it to the GIS
application as a spatial layer that can be turned on and off for display
as needed.

By providing the Community Development Department with a spatial
interface to search and reference scanned zoning variance documents,
GIS has provided a more efficient solution for retrieving department
files. The previous method for locating these documents involved
searching a village network drive for the correct scanned document,
which was disruptive to the department workflow and often difficult to
navigate. Using an existing, spatial platform, the department has
leveraged available geospatial technology to make better use of staff
time and available village resources, which has, in turn, made the
department more productive and cost effective.

Using MapOffice™ to Conduct a Sewer Flow Analysis

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​Technology can be used to assist local government in many different
ways. For the Village of Winnetka, IL, their investment in technology
includes a Geographic Information System (GIS) program that provides all
village departments with maps, analysis results, and data that assists
with day to day operations and future planning efforts.
Traditionally, access to the village’s GIS data, and the ability to
analyze it, has been limited to those who are trained on how to use a
high end GIS software program, which can both cost prohibitive and
technically challenging to implement as a tool for all village staff.
However, with the development of a web-browser based GIS viewer
application called MapOffice™, all staff now has the ability to view all
GIS data collected by the village, as well as conduct basic analysis of
certain data to gather more in-depth information about a particular
assets or process.

A recent analysis of village assets conducted using MapOffice™
involved the village’s Public Works department, which used the
application to conduct a sewer system flow analysis live during a
meeting with a firm that is conducting a sewer system flow monitoring
study for the village. During the meeting, the Public Works Director
was able to use MapOffice™ to highlight areas that the village wanted to
include as part of the flow monitoring study and, using a sewer system
tracing tool, trace how each area was connected within the entire system
and where the flow for each study area started and ended. By
conducting this analysis during the meeting, using existing village data
and an existing tool available to all village staff, the Public Works
Director was able to clearly display which areas he wanted the firm to
focus on for the study and saved the village time and money by not
having the firm conduct the same flow analysis prior to starting the
flow monitoring study.

By making GIS more available through a commonly used medium (i.e. a
web browser), the ability to access and analyze village assets is now
possible to all village staff. Increased access to this information now
allows all departments to leverage the village GIS data to make more
informed decisions that are saving time and reducing the need for extra
expenditures to produce the same level of results.

GIS assisting with building permit applications

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Maintaining a record of building permit applications is important for
local governments as both a historical reference for work that was
authorized for a given project and as a reference in case the work that
was completed is ever disputed. To make access to these applications
easier for all departments, the Village of Winnetka, IL Community
Development Department requested that the paper building permits they
have on file be scanned into an electronic format. To assist with
providing access to the scanned permit files, the village’s Geographic
Information Systems (GIS) department linked the permit documents to the
spatial location they applied to and made those links available as part
of the village’s internet-browser based mapping application.

Distributing the connection to each scanned document through a
spatial platform provides an intuitive interface for village staff to
query and locate the exact permit application they’re looking for.
Within the mapping application, a user can search for the address the
permit was issued for, turn on the spatial layer developed by the GIS
department that contains the document link, and click on that link to
open the scanned file for viewing. By making the permits accessible
through an intuitive application that’s already used by all departments,
the village increases its overall efficiency by opening up access to
the permits, as well as saves time and money by not having to coordinate
a network location to store the files or invest in document management
software to distribute the information.

Pursuit of Suspect Timeline Map

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Using technology to assist with police department operations is
become more and more important in today’s world. From providing new
safety devices to help protect officers to supplying comprehensive
vehicle registration information during a traffic stop, the use of
technology has made departments more prepared and, as a result, more
efficient in completing their day to day tasks. For the Village of
Winnetka, IL police department, integrating technology includes
utilizing the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program to
perform basic mapping and advanced spatial analysis of department data.
For example, to help better establish an incident’s timeline during a
recent investigation, the department asked the village GIS staff to
develop a map showing the different locations of an officer’s pursuit of
a suspect from the beginning to the end of the event.

Provided with Global Positioning System (GPS) location information
collected from the officer’s vehicle during the incident, the GIS staff
was able to plot out the available X and Y coordinates to visualize the
path the officer’s vehicle took during the pursuit. In addition to the
spatial location of each recorded point, the time each point was
collected was also provided, allowing for the development of a spatial
timeline describing where and when the officer was while pursuing the
suspect. To help see how the events of the pursuit developed, each
point that was recorded was placed on a map and labeled with its
corresponding time, giving the department a powerful learning tool for
reviewing pursuit procedures and evaluating the course of action that
was taken to better prepare for a similar incident in the future.

Fire Grid Map Product Development

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The primary responsibility of all local government public safety
agencies is to understand the location and extent of their designated
response coverage areas, especially when it comes to providing mutual
aid support across municipal boundaries. In many cases, knowing this
information before responding to an emergency call can make the
difference between a response ending in success and a response ending in
tragedy. For the Village of Winnetka, IL Fire department a recent
change to their response coverage grid numbering system lead them to
collaborate with the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
department to redesign the department fire grid map that is used both
internally by department staff and provided to surrounding communities
to assist with mutual aid support.

The primary component of the map redesign was to determine the new
grid numbers and to update the grid boundaries to accurately reflect the
established response areas. As part of this review, it was discovered
that the existing map was inaccurately showing that the village was
responsible for an area that had previously been annexed into a
neighboring community, which could have lead to a miscommunication in
who should respond in an emergency situation. Making sure issues like
that were resolved and accurately reflected on the map is critical to
the success of the new grid implementation and, ultimately, the map’s
usefulness to the department. By correcting inaccuracies in the Fire
department’s grid system, and using GIS to create an accurate and easy
to understand map reflecting the corrections, the village has improved
the overall safety of its residents by removing potential confusion
between mutual aid departments regarding who should respond to certain
locations within the village limits.

Winter Operations Support: Snow Removal

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Seasonal operations planning is a process all municipalities, large
and small, must deal with throughout the year. Whether it’s ordering
salt for the winter months or flowers for the spring plantings, all
municipalities are involved with planning out their process for
providing seasonal services. For the Village of Winnetka Public Works
department, snow removal has always been one of the primary services
included in its winter operation plans. In past years, the snow removal
maps used by the plow operators have been maintained in a Computer Aided
Design (CAD) based system, which has proven difficult to update and
maintain. In an effort to improve map maintenance and currency, the
department asked the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
department to assist in recreating them to both update the mapped routes
and make the mapping process more efficient.

In addition to providing an administrative advantage for overall
planning, having “easy-to-update” maps creates an operational advantage
by providing a consistent tool for any truck operator who is not
familiar with his assigned route. Developing the maps in GIS allows for
duplication and redundancy with the mapping, resulting in a much easier
process for printing off new maps as needed. By converting the
village’s snow removal route information to GIS, the Public Works
department has improved its winter operations planning efficiency and
developed a more stable operational resource for the truck operators.
For these reasons, the department has decided to use GIS as its primary
medium for maintaining this information moving forward.

Water Main Break Analysis

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For local governments, updating and replacing components of
publically funded services, such as utility systems and roads, is
critical for maintaining the overall well being of the community and the
happiness of its residents. One example of how a community can
determine which component of a system may need to be replaced is by
tracking breaks that occur within the water system mains. For the
Village of Winnetka, IL Water and Electric Department, tracking this
information is critical when developing a construction budget from year
to year and for highlighting potential problem areas that may require
future improvements. To assist with determining which water mains
should be considered for replacement in the most recent budget year, the
village Geographic Information System (GIS) department was asked to
generate a map highlighting all the mains in the village that had
recorded breaks over the past 25 years.

Using previously mapped water main data and the recorded water main
break locations, the GIS department was able to link individual main
break records to specific water mains. Once the break records were
linked to the main data, the number of breaks per main could be
calculated and used for mapping across the village. An additional
component that needed to be considered as part of the budgeting process
was past water system improvements that were not captured by the raw
main break data. By factoring in system mains that were already
replaced or repaired during previous years, the GIS department was able
to filter out numerous main breaks that would have otherwise been
included in the analysis, thereby providing a more accurate product that
reflected the true number of breaks within the system.

Using GIS to analyze the water main break information tracked by the
Water and Electric department provided a powerful analysis and
visualization tool for viewing this information across the entire
village. Providing a spatial, easy-to-understand final product allowed
department staff to make more informed decisions regarding the next
year’s construction budget, leading to more responsible fiscal spending
and better resource management.

Using GIS for water main break analysis

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For local governments, updating and replacing components of
publically funded services, such as utility systems and roads, is
critical for maintaining the overall well being of the community and the
happiness of its residents. One example of how a community can
determine which component of a system may need to be replaced is by
tracking breaks that occur within the water system mains. For the
Village of Winnetka, IL Water and Electric Department, tracking this
information is critical when developing a construction budget from year
to year and for highlighting potential problem areas that may require
future improvements. To assist with determining which water mains
should be considered for replacement in the most recent budget year, the
village Geographic Information System (GIS) department was asked to
generate a map highlighting all the mains in the village that had
recorded breaks over the past 25 years.

Using previously mapped water main data and the recorded water main
break locations, the GIS department was able to link individual main
break records to specific water mains. Once the break records were
linked to the main data, the number of breaks per main could be
calculated and used for mapping across the village. An additional
component that needed to be considered as part of the budgeting process
was past water system improvements that were not captured by the raw
main break data. By factoring in system mains that were already
replaced or repaired during previous years, the GIS department was able
to filter out numerous main breaks that would have otherwise been
included in the analysis, thereby providing a more accurate product that
reflected the true number of breaks within the system.

Using GIS to analyze the water main break information tracked by the
Water and Electric department provided a powerful analysis and
visualization tool for viewing this information across the entire
village. Providing a spatial, easy-to-understand final product allowed
department staff to make more informed decisions regarding the next
year’s construction budget, leading to more responsible fiscal spending
and better resource management.

Conceptual utility planning using GIS

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Any storm event that disrupts day to day operations can often spur
local government to investigate solutions to help mitigate future
problems. After a major emergency event that occurred on July 23rd 2011
caused significant flood damage to the Village of Winnetka, IL, the
village’s Public Works Department began looking at options for improving
its storm water utility system to help reduce the impacts of future
flooding. As part of the investigative process, department staff is
required to present all options under consideration to the general
public as a way to show progress. To assist with these presentations,
the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department was asked
to create a map showing all project locations to help provide the public
with a tool for visualizing the proposed improvements.

After working with an engineering firm to determine areas of need and
design the new storm water system components, the Public Works staff
provided the GIS department with each project location and requested a
map product that was easy to understand in order provide the public with
a preview of the changes without confusing things with too many
details. Using a basic street map of the community, the project
streets and the surrounding areas impacted by the proposed construction
were highlighted and color coded based on the projected impact they
would have on the village’s flood mitigation plan. Showing the
information this way provides context for how each project will improve
flood control in the village and help to reduce the risk of future flood
damages.