Tracking Damage Caused by a July Storm Event

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On July 23rd, 2011, the Chicago, IL metropolitan area was hit by a storm
system that resulted in extensive damage across numerous communities.
As a community that received heavy flooding damage and experienced
utility management issues due to the intensity of the storm, the Village
of Winnetka needed to track where flooding was being reported and the
nature of each report to help get a village-wide view of the total
damage. To assist with this effort, the village Geographic Information
Systems (GIS) department was asked to store and manage the flooding
location data and develop a series of maps showing different aspects of
the damage accounts as needed for reporting and analysis.
The
primary sources used to develop the damage assessment database were
field checks by village staff and damage claims submitted to Cook County
by the residents. Using these sources, an extensive list of flooding
locations, and the nature of each flooding event, was compiled and made
available for mapping. Some of the products generated from the data
were a basic map showing flooded properties, a map showing properties
with debris piles stacked on the curb, and a map showing the extent of
the flooding in one of the hardest hit areas of the village.
By
storing and managing this information in GIS, the village now has the
ability to develop powerful visual tools for examining the impacts of
the storm, assisting with the development of future mitigation
strategies, and providing the village council with evidence of how
extensive the damage was in an easy-to-understand format.

Tracking Damage Caused by a July Storm Event

Blog_TrackingDamageCausedaJulyStormEvent.png

On July 23rd, 2011, the Chicago, IL metropolitan area was hit by a storm
system that resulted in extensive damage across numerous communities.
As a community that received heavy flooding damage and experienced
utility management issues due to the intensity of the storm, the Village
of Winnetka needed to track where flooding was being reported and the
nature of each report to help get a village-wide view of the total
damage. To assist with this effort, the village Geographic Information
Systems (GIS) department was asked to store and manage the flooding
location data and develop a series of maps showing different aspects of
the damage accounts as needed for reporting and analysis.
The
primary sources used to develop the damage assessment database were
field checks by village staff and damage claims submitted to Cook County
by the residents. Using these sources, an extensive list of flooding
locations, and the nature of each flooding event, was compiled and made
available for mapping. Some of the products generated from the data
were a basic map showing flooded properties, a map showing properties
with debris piles stacked on the curb, and a map showing the extent of
the flooding in one of the hardest hit areas of the village.
By
storing and managing this information in GIS, the village now has the
ability to develop powerful visual tools for examining the impacts of
the storm, assisting with the development of future mitigation
strategies, and providing the village council with evidence of how
extensive the damage was in an easy-to-understand format.

Basement Electric Meter Monitoring

​During the cleanup from damage caused by emergency events, such as
severe storms or flooding, there are often numerous issues that a local
government needs to deal with in order to successfully recover. After a
recent storm that occurred on July 23rd, 2011, the Village of Winnetka,
IL was hit hard by residential flooding and other water related
problems. This forced the village’s Water and Electric Department to
take an inventory of all properties in the village with electric meters
installed in basements to help identify areas where restoring power
service might be difficult in the future if that same property floods.

Using an existing database containing all the basement electric meter
addresses, and a list of flooded properties collected during the July
23rd storm event, the village GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
Department was able to map out the locations of each meter and spatially
compare that to the flooded property locations. Doing this helped to
identify where homes with both basement electric meters and potential
flooding issues were located, allow the Water and Electric Department to
assess the potential risk for these meters being inaccessible during a
similar storm event.

Without GIS, analysis would have been very time consuming and would
have required significant man-hours to complete. Comparing the
flooding and electric meter locations spatially allowed for a quick and
efficient analysis of the data, which provided the Water and Electric
Department with an easy-to-use tool for assessing future risk.

Basement Electric Meter Monitoring

​During the cleanup from damage caused by emergency events, such as
severe storms or flooding, there are often numerous issues that a local
government needs to deal with in order to successfully recover. After a
recent storm that occurred on July 23rd, 2011, the Village of Winnetka,
IL was hit hard by residential flooding and other water related
problems. This forced the village’s Water and Electric Department to
take an inventory of all properties in the village with electric meters
installed in basements to help identify areas where restoring power
service might be difficult in the future if that same property floods.

Using an existing database containing all the basement electric meter
addresses, and a list of flooded properties collected during the July
23rd storm event, the village GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
Department was able to map out the locations of each meter and spatially
compare that to the flooded property locations. Doing this helped to
identify where homes with both basement electric meters and potential
flooding issues were located, allow the Water and Electric Department to
assess the potential risk for these meters being inaccessible during a
similar storm event.

Without GIS, analysis would have been very time consuming and would
have required significant man-hours to complete. Comparing the
flooding and electric meter locations spatially allowed for a quick and
efficient analysis of the data, which provided the Water and Electric
Department with an easy-to-use tool for assessing future risk.

Emergency incident tracking in GIS

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While it may not occur as part of the day to day operations, an
unfortunate reality for all local governments is the need to coordinate
response and cleanup efforts as the result of an emergency event, such a
severe storm or other natural disaster. To assist with tracking
reported incidents as the result of a recent severe weather event, the
Village of Winnetka, IL used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to
store and display the incident locations during the event, as well map
their locations to assist with the extensive cleanup efforts after the
event took place.

Prior to using GIS to store and display the emergency event data,
village staff would store the incident information in a variety of
different mediums, including paper post-it notes, scarps of notebook
paper, and non-standardized excel sheets, just to name a few. As a
result, trying to coordinate response efforts was difficult, as post-its
would get lost, pieces of paper would get thrown away, etc. In
addition, without having a visual way to organize each incident
location, departments would often duplicate efforts and send multiple
response crews to deal with one incident, instead of distributing the
available resources to maximize efficiency.

To help reduce these inefficiencies, the village GIS department
provided a Structured Query Language (SQL) database with a Microsoft
Access form front end that allowed staff to enter the information for
each incident location as it was received in a standard format that
could be easily accessed and reviewed by everyone involved in the
response efforts. From the SQL database, each incident could be
extracted and mapped in the village’s internet browser-based GIS
application for all staff to see. Using this visual platform, the
nature of the incident and its current status could be shared quickly
across all departments, reducing redundancy and maximizing the
effectiveness of each response crew.

Emergency incident tracking in GIS

Blog_EmergencincidenttrackinginGIS.jpg

While it may not occur as part of the day to day operations, an
unfortunate reality for all local governments is the need to coordinate
response and cleanup efforts as the result of an emergency event, such a
severe storm or other natural disaster. To assist with tracking
reported incidents as the result of a recent severe weather event, the
Village of Winnetka, IL used Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to
store and display the incident locations during the event, as well map
their locations to assist with the extensive cleanup efforts after the
event took place.

Prior to using GIS to store and display the emergency event data,
village staff would store the incident information in a variety of
different mediums, including paper post-it notes, scarps of notebook
paper, and non-standardized excel sheets, just to name a few. As a
result, trying to coordinate response efforts was difficult, as post-its
would get lost, pieces of paper would get thrown away, etc. In
addition, without having a visual way to organize each incident
location, departments would often duplicate efforts and send multiple
response crews to deal with one incident, instead of distributing the
available resources to maximize efficiency.

To help reduce these inefficiencies, the village GIS department
provided a Structured Query Language (SQL) database with a Microsoft
Access form front end that allowed staff to enter the information for
each incident location as it was received in a standard format that
could be easily accessed and reviewed by everyone involved in the
response efforts. From the SQL database, each incident could be
extracted and mapped in the village’s internet browser-based GIS
application for all staff to see. Using this visual platform, the
nature of the incident and its current status could be shared quickly
across all departments, reducing redundancy and maximizing the
effectiveness of each response crew.

4th of July Fireworks planning

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The Village of Winnetka, IL hosts numerous special events throughout
the year, including a fireworks display during the Fourth of July
holiday weekend. These types of events require the involvement and
coordination of several village departments, including Public Works and
the Police Department, and, often, outside agencies, such as the
Winnetka Park District. To help improve the coordination and planning
efforts between each group, the GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
department developed several map products to assist with transferring
event information more efficiently.

There were two maps that were developed for the firework display: one
for the Police Department that highlighted the officer posting
locations for the event, along with various traffic control policies
that were implemented to assist with crowd control, and one for the
Public Works Department that displays temporary “no parking” sign
placements used to support traffic control efforts. Using these map
products provided all those involved with the same, geographically-based
template for planning the event, which allowed for a more efficient
distribution of resources and transfer of information between agencies
during fireworks display.

4th of July Fireworks planning

Blog_4thofJulyFireworksplanning.jpg

The Village of Winnetka, IL hosts numerous special events throughout
the year, including a fireworks display during the Fourth of July
holiday weekend. These types of events require the involvement and
coordination of several village departments, including Public Works and
the Police Department, and, often, outside agencies, such as the
Winnetka Park District. To help improve the coordination and planning
efforts between each group, the GIS (Geographic Information Systems)
department developed several map products to assist with transferring
event information more efficiently.

There were two maps that were developed for the firework display: one
for the Police Department that highlighted the officer posting
locations for the event, along with various traffic control policies
that were implemented to assist with crowd control, and one for the
Public Works Department that displays temporary “no parking” sign
placements used to support traffic control efforts. Using these map
products provided all those involved with the same, geographically-based
template for planning the event, which allowed for a more efficient
distribution of resources and transfer of information between agencies
during fireworks display.

GIS providing information to elected officials

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Most local governments have a council of elected community residents
that help manage and vote on the policies that govern how the community
operates. For the Village of Winnetka, as with any government, there is
regular turnover in who is elected to sit on the acting council. After a
recent election, village staff decided to use maps to help explain the
operational role of each department to the new council members.

The Village GIS (Geographic Information System) department was asked
to create these maps, which included a water main diameter size map, a
public works facilities map, and an electric circuit map, as a tool to
visually highlight the extent of individual department operations. The
maps were shown to the new trustees during a tour they received of the
Village facilities and helped to enhance their understanding of the
services each department is responsible for managing. Having more
knowledge of the services provided by the Village staff can lead to
better, more informed decisions by the council in the future on the best
policies to effectively manage village operations.

GIS providing information to elected officials

Blog_GISprovidinginformationtoelectedofficials.jpg

Most local governments have a council of elected community residents
that help manage and vote on the policies that govern how the community
operates. For the Village of Winnetka, as with any government, there is
regular turnover in who is elected to sit on the acting council. After a
recent election, village staff decided to use maps to help explain the
operational role of each department to the new council members.

The Village GIS (Geographic Information System) department was asked
to create these maps, which included a water main diameter size map, a
public works facilities map, and an electric circuit map, as a tool to
visually highlight the extent of individual department operations. The
maps were shown to the new trustees during a tour they received of the
Village facilities and helped to enhance their understanding of the
services each department is responsible for managing. Having more
knowledge of the services provided by the Village staff can lead to
better, more informed decisions by the council in the future on the best
policies to effectively manage village operations.