Public safety response

​Of all the services provided by local municipalities around the
world, public safety is arguably the most recognizable and widely
supported. Everyone wants to feel that they are safe and that someone
will respond to assist them in the case of an emergency. The Village of
Winnetka traditionally has provided fire, EMS, and police protection to
its residences since it was established, however, over the years, these
Village departments have started to provide service to additional areas
immediately outside the village boundaries through a series of public
service contracts. To assist with coordinating response efforts in these
service agreement areas, the fire and police departments asked the
village GIS department for assistance.

While several of these contracts are for police services in
unincorporated areas south of the village limits, the fire department
has the added responsibility of providing service to the Village of
Kenilworth, a small municipality located southeast of Winnetka. For
years, this area has either not been mapped or has been poorly mapped,
making it difficult to plan efficient response routes. To help resolve
these issues, the GIS department created several data layers for
Kenilworth that allow for more effective response mapping.

Since the Village of Kenilworth is not part of the GIS Consortium,
much of the base data for this area was provided by Cook County,
including roads, parcels, and an initial street address range line. The
other information used to develop this data, such as individual
addresses and street names, was provided by a combination of the
Winnetka fire and police departments. Using these two sources, a
Kenilworth street name table and an initial address database were
developed. While these two data layers do not complete the Kenilworth
dataset, they allow for additional information to be developed in the
Village database, such as a more accurate street address range feature
class.

While this service area data is being developed to assist the overall
public safety efforts of the Village of Winnetka, ultimately, the
police and fire department will use it to accomplish different goals.
For the police department, since they provide response assistance to
Kenilworth and, often, travel through the village when responding to
calls in other communities, the street address range data will be
inputted into an existing CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) system to
provide responding officers with both village address ranges and
information on how the streets are aligned to help improve response
times. For the fire department, since they are the primary response
agency for Kenilworth, the individual resident and commercial property
addresses are critical for pinpointing the exact location of an
emergency call. A detailed map of Kenilworth, including streets, parcel
lines, and individual addresses, will be created to provide the
department with accurate property information prior to going out on a
call.

For both departments, the data developed by the GIS system will help
to improve their ability to respond more efficiently and with more
certainty regarding the location of an emergency call. This leads to
better public safety services for the Village of Kenilworth and a more
reliable system for the Village of Winnetka in responding to an
emergency event.

Using GIS to assist with capital improvements

​Capital improvement projects are essential for a local municipality
to maintain a good quality of life for its residents. Resurfacing roads
and replacing aging utility mains provide a more reliable
infrastructure for the community and ensure that residents do not
experience things such as uneven roads and interruptions in utility
services. Recently, the Village of Winnetka used Geographic Information
System (GIS) to help with the coordinating and planning of future
capital projects between various village departments to reduce project
duplication and maximize project overlap.

The first step in coordinating capital project work between
departments is to get the planned project information into the GIS
system. Traditionally, the information for each project was stored in a
“flat” excel worksheet format that provided a lot of information
regarding the projects, but did very little to show their distribution
across the village. To assist with spatially displaying this data, the
GIS department was provided with the Public Works Department’s capital
projects file, which was converted to a GIS compatible format. This
consisted primarily of spatially locating the project area within a GIS
map and creating a line segment feature to represent the proposed extent
of the project work. Once the line segment features were created, each
project could be mapped and visually analyzed against projected capital
improvements planned by other village departments.

The primary department coordinating with Public Works was the Water
and Electric Department. As the village water mains age, numerous
breaks occur along the older lines that cause interruptions in service
for residents and costly repairs for the village. To help mitigate this
issue, the Water and Electric department wanted to replace the mains
that had experienced the most breaks over the last decade. To avoid
tearing up roads after they have been resurfaced as part of the Public
Works capital improvement project plan, Water and Electric asked the GIS
department to compare the existing water main break data in GIS with
the recently developed capital project data layer to see where high
break mains corresponded to planned road repair project areas. The
resulting analysis revealed that 5 high break mains existed along
proposed capital improvement roads. A map was then created that showed
these main locations and included the year that the road improvement
projects are planned. With this information spatially displayed
together, the departments now have a tool to coordinate planning and
budgeting efforts to ensure that project overlap occurs in a given year.

Using GIS to assist with the village capital improvements planning
process has allowed for inter-departmental project coordination that
will help reduce unnecessary and costly project duplication over the
next several years. By viewing the information spatially, each
department is able to see where they have overlapping project work,
which, by planning the projects collectively, ultimately will save the
village money on construction costs into the foreseeable future.

Using GIS to assist with capital improvements

​Capital improvement projects are essential for a local municipality
to maintain a good quality of life for its residents. Resurfacing roads
and replacing aging utility mains provide a more reliable
infrastructure for the community and ensure that residents do not
experience things such as uneven roads and interruptions in utility
services. Recently, the Village of Winnetka used Geographic Information
System (GIS) to help with the coordinating and planning of future
capital projects between various village departments to reduce project
duplication and maximize project overlap.

The first step in coordinating capital project work between
departments is to get the planned project information into the GIS
system. Traditionally, the information for each project was stored in a
“flat” excel worksheet format that provided a lot of information
regarding the projects, but did very little to show their distribution
across the village. To assist with spatially displaying this data, the
GIS department was provided with the Public Works Department’s capital
projects file, which was converted to a GIS compatible format. This
consisted primarily of spatially locating the project area within a GIS
map and creating a line segment feature to represent the proposed extent
of the project work. Once the line segment features were created, each
project could be mapped and visually analyzed against projected capital
improvements planned by other village departments.

The primary department coordinating with Public Works was the Water
and Electric Department. As the village water mains age, numerous
breaks occur along the older lines that cause interruptions in service
for residents and costly repairs for the village. To help mitigate this
issue, the Water and Electric department wanted to replace the mains
that had experienced the most breaks over the last decade. To avoid
tearing up roads after they have been resurfaced as part of the Public
Works capital improvement project plan, Water and Electric asked the GIS
department to compare the existing water main break data in GIS with
the recently developed capital project data layer to see where high
break mains corresponded to planned road repair project areas. The
resulting analysis revealed that 5 high break mains existed along
proposed capital improvement roads. A map was then created that showed
these main locations and included the year that the road improvement
projects are planned. With this information spatially displayed
together, the departments now have a tool to coordinate planning and
budgeting efforts to ensure that project overlap occurs in a given year.

Using GIS to assist with the village capital improvements planning
process has allowed for inter-departmental project coordination that
will help reduce unnecessary and costly project duplication over the
next several years. By viewing the information spatially, each
department is able to see where they have overlapping project work,
which, by planning the projects collectively, ultimately will save the
village money on construction costs into the foreseeable future.

Map products improve department efficiency for fourth of July holiday events

​Special events, such as parades, concerts, and street fairs, require
additional civil services from local government to ensure everything
runs smoothly and efficiently. While all government departments are
involved in the planning and execution of these events, the police
department is responsible for enforcing city/village policies and
ensuring that all participants are safe. To assist with their annual
Fourth of July celebration, the Village of Winnetka Police Department
started to using map products to provide more information to officers
regarding the holiday’s planned events.

The Village plans three primary events for their Fourth of July
holiday celebration. This includes a 5K run, parade, and a fireworks
display. In the past, the Police Department issued special orders to all
department members and other village departments listing the routes of
the parade and 5K run, officer postings for each event, parking
restrictions, etc. While these orders are helpful in providing pertinent
information on police operations, they don’t provide a visual reference
point of the operations to new officers or assisting officers from
other communities. To help improve the transfer of information within
the department and to visiting agencies, the GIS Department was asked to
create a series of maps using the existing special orders documents.
The maps are a supplementary tool that the department can use to improve
the communication of department regulations between officers during the
events.

From the special order documents, three maps were developed for the
department. These maps included a parade route map, a 5K run route map,
and a fireworks display operations map. While these maps are primarily
intended for departmental use, a secondary function is to provide
information to the general public. The maps can be posted on the Village
website or in other public forums to allow residents and visitors to
see parking restriction enforcement zones, road closures, and route
information. Providing this information to the public allows for
visitors to these events to be more informed about temporary event
regulations, which helps to reduce the number of possible violations.
This helps to improve the overall efficiency and operation of each event
by allowing the department to focus on tasks such as traffic and crowd
control rather than regulatory enforcment.

Using GIS to help develop map products for each event provides the
department with a visual reference tool for conveying department
regulations and policies. This helps to improve communication within the
department and with the general public, which helps to ensure that each
event runs more efficiently.

Map products improve department efficiency for fourth of July holiday events

​Special events, such as parades, concerts, and street fairs, require
additional civil services from local government to ensure everything
runs smoothly and efficiently. While all government departments are
involved in the planning and execution of these events, the police
department is responsible for enforcing city/village policies and
ensuring that all participants are safe. To assist with their annual
Fourth of July celebration, the Village of Winnetka Police Department
started to using map products to provide more information to officers
regarding the holiday’s planned events.

The Village plans three primary events for their Fourth of July
holiday celebration. This includes a 5K run, parade, and a fireworks
display. In the past, the Police Department issued special orders to all
department members and other village departments listing the routes of
the parade and 5K run, officer postings for each event, parking
restrictions, etc. While these orders are helpful in providing pertinent
information on police operations, they don’t provide a visual reference
point of the operations to new officers or assisting officers from
other communities. To help improve the transfer of information within
the department and to visiting agencies, the GIS Department was asked to
create a series of maps using the existing special orders documents.
The maps are a supplementary tool that the department can use to improve
the communication of department regulations between officers during the
events.

From the special order documents, three maps were developed for the
department. These maps included a parade route map, a 5K run route map,
and a fireworks display operations map. While these maps are primarily
intended for departmental use, a secondary function is to provide
information to the general public. The maps can be posted on the Village
website or in other public forums to allow residents and visitors to
see parking restriction enforcement zones, road closures, and route
information. Providing this information to the public allows for
visitors to these events to be more informed about temporary event
regulations, which helps to reduce the number of possible violations.
This helps to improve the overall efficiency and operation of each event
by allowing the department to focus on tasks such as traffic and crowd
control rather than regulatory enforcment.

Using GIS to help develop map products for each event provides the
department with a visual reference tool for conveying department
regulations and policies. This helps to improve communication within the
department and with the general public, which helps to ensure that each
event runs more efficiently.

Targeting utility infrastructure improvements

​As the country’s utility infrastructure continues to age, many local
governments will be faced with the task of updating or replacing
deteriorating structures. Since this process can result in high costs
for a community, many municipalities prefer to develop an infrastructure
improvement plan to make sure the areas most in need get updated first.
As part of the Village of Winnetka’s utility improvement plan, the
water and electric department recently analyzed the structural integrity
of village water mains by reviewing water main break incidents from the
last 20 years.

Main break records help to identify mains that are weak or have
become unreliable over time and, therefore, are in need of repair.
While several department members were aware of numerous water main
breaks that have occurred over the years, without a comprehensive view
of the entire village, it was difficult to determine which mains should
be considered high priority updates. To assist with identifying
priority update areas, the GIS department used address and location
information associated with each main break incident record to create a
spatial layer for the water main breaks that could be mapped and
analyzed in the GIS software.

While being able to spatially review the main break locations was
useful in identifying general problem areas across the village, it did
not help to highlight the individual water main features in the GIS that
the breaks occurred along. To help accomplish this task, the GIS
software allows for multiple features to be linked together using a
common attribute, which can allow for information from one feature to be
applied to another. For this project, both the water mains and the
main break records contained a water main numbering system used by
department staff to track and identify individual records. Using this
numbering scheme, the break records were successfully linked to the
water mains, thereby allowing each main feature to be visually
identified by the number of break records associated with it.

With the main breaks both spatially referenced and linked to the
existing water main features in the GIS system, the water and electric
department now has an efficient tool for reviewing mains where multiple
breaks have occurred. Being able to locate these high priority areas
without performing time-consuming field checks has also provided a
cost-savings to the department by improving staff efficiency and
allowing them to focus on other tasks. Using GIS to assist with this
project has improved the department’s ability to develop a more
efficient water main improvement plan and provides a visual reference
tool to assist with planning future improvement projects.

Using GIS to link addresses to PDF documents

Many local gvernments face the challenge of organizing decades worth
of permit, building plan and zoning variance documents in a way that
will allow employees to locate them if needed. Most municipalities
have these paper documents stored in boxes, filing cabinets or in some
other storage container that can be a burden to search through. The
Village of Winnetka Community Development Department has recently
attempted to reduce their amount of paper documents by scanning new
zoning variance requests into a digital, PDF format.

The ultimate goal for the department is to convert all their
documents, both current and historical, to a digital format that allows
for a more efficient workflow. While there are several document
management solutions available for managing digital files, many are
expensive and do not provide a spatial component to show the location
that each document applies to. To avoid purchasing new software, the
Geographic Information System (GIS) Department was asked to produce a
sample project linking the existing digital zoning variance documents to
the village address data and would allow for employees to retrieve
documents spatially.

GIS software is not a document management tool, but it does allow for
external files to be linked to spatial data using a common attribute,
such as address or Parcel Identification Number (PIN) information. For
this project, a data table containing all the network path information
for each variance document was created and stored in a geodatabase. To
create the link between the documents and their corresponding spatial
features, the address information and PIN number for the parcel
associated with each document was also included in the table. An
existing address point feature class for the village acts as the spatial
component for this project and also contains its corresponding PIN
information. Thus allowing for the use of these common attributes to
link these sensitive documents to their respective geographic location.

Accessing the documents from the GIS system requires a basic
knowledge of the tools available in the software. Using a database
relationship between the document path data table and the address point
feature class, a user can query an address and open the PDF using basic
GIS tools. When accessed, the software reads the network path of the
document from the data table and opens the file in the standard PDF
viewer software loaded on the computer. This allows for village
employees to retrieve document information using a basic map interface
instead of searching through numerous network folders and deciphering
file naming conventions hoping to find what they’re looking for.

While PDF document retrieval and viewing can be done without GIS,
integrating the functionality of accessing digital zoning variance files
and linking them to GIS has helped the Village of Winnetka streamline
their document retrieval workflow and help improve their time
efficiency. All in all, demonstrating the effectiveness of using GIS
within local government to centralize documentation and to make
searching for it more efficient.

Comprehensive fire hydrant flow rate review

The Village of Winnetka Fire Department recently utilized the
Village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) to complete a
community-wide fire hydrant flow rate review. Accurate flow rate
information is critical to the department for knowing how much water
pressure is available from a hydrant at a given location in the village.

By assigning flow rate information to all the hydrants in GIS, this
information can be easily mapped and used for reference. While the
department flow rate inventory continues to be maintained using other
methods in addition to GIS, such as a hydrant inventory list, being able
to visualize the data spatially reduces the amount of time necessary to
retrieve this valuable hydrant attribute.

To assist in the initial stages of this inventory development
process, the GIS department provided a Village-wide map of fire hydrant
locations with each hydrant color coded by its existing flow rate
information. This preliminary flow rate data was inputted into the GIS
system several years ago from multiple sources, including as-builts and
CAD-drawings. Using this data as a base to work from, the Fire
Department began reviewing the flow rates using a variety of methods
including field checks, existing inventory lists and personal knowledge
of the fire hydrants from the department’s hydrant officer.

While the main focus of the review was to update the hydrant flow
rate information, the Fire Department also used this opportunity to mark
up the map with new hydrants that were missing from the village’s GIS
mapped water system. This information allowed the GIS department to
not only update the existing hydrants but also to improve the accuracy
of the water system as a whole. This system improvement not only
benefits the Fire Department but also the Public Works and Water and
Electric departments, which in turn reference the Village utility
information in their day to day business processes.

With the review complete, the Fire Department now has a quick
reference map for checking both the location and flow rate information
for each hydrant in the village. It also provides the department with
an easy-to-use, effective device for providing additional updates to the
GIS Department in the event of future changes to the system.

By combining the existing Village hydrant inventory resources with
the spatial components of GIS, the village now has a more robust flow
rate reference tool. Improving the capability of the department to
determine water pressure information for a given hydrant improves its
ability to assist the village residents when responding to a fire
emergency. Overall, it is easy to see how the GIS Department and Fire
Department were able to work side by side to improve the accuracy of the
water utility infrastructure that they had mapped in the GIS and what
the village staff accesses on a daily basis.