Information kiosk for development building and zoning questions

The Village of Glenview has recently installed a kiosk in the
Development Department to answer questions by contractors, residents and
realtors. The kiosk gives individuals the ability to quickly find out
information about Village property from a single source. Questions such
as what school district is a property in? What residential services are
available? What day is garbage pickup? What is the approximate age
square footage of my home? What is the Village zoning classification?
All these questions can be answered using the kiosk.

Prior to using GIS as the central repository for Village data,
finding and navigating the maze of data sources was difficult and time
consuming. A Geographic Information System (GIS) fits this very need. It
captures, stores, analyzes, manages and presents data that is linked to
a geographic location (in most cases a street address). Prior to using
GIS the school data would need to be retrieved from the school district,
property information such as assessed value or square footage would
need to be taken from the Cook County Assessor and zoning data would
have to be requested from the Village. This process was far from instant
and certainly without the ease of using a graphic interface to make it
intuitive. Today using a single graphical interface, a realtor for
example can get all this data in under a minute.

The efficiency of GIS makes it a powerful marketing tool for village
property. It allows a user to retrieve available residential services,
improves data accuracy and increases the amount of data a contractor,
resident or a realtor has access to. With all the data in one central
location the ability to make changes and updates is easier than ever
before. The GIS is a dynamic system that continues to grow as the
Village moves forward with its Strategic Technology Plan and we
encourage you to come and try it out.

Tree inventory

A recent addition to the Village of Riverside has been the Geographic
Information System (GIS) services. Although GIS is being used in the
village to inventory multiple data items the tree inventory has gained
popularity. A few years ago the village used Davey Consultants to
locate the trees in the village parks using GPS equipment. They also
identified trees existing in the parkways and associated that
information to the nearest address. This information was incorporated
into the GIS by downloading the GPS data which was already in a
geographic data format because of the original collection tools that
were utilized. The tabular data was then matched to an address in the
GIS system and from there it was incorporated into a geographic database
with location context.

Village Forester, Mike Collins, had also maintained records of new
tree plantings and removals since the initial data collection. These
records were considered as valuable information to be updated to the
inventory as well as many other attributes such as tree widths, trimming
schedules and overall tree condition. Moreover, the versatility of the
database was made so that it can be expanded at any time to capture
more related information that may assist in making more informative
decisions when needed. The GIS was recently leveraged to determine the
overall distribution of trees in the community with a specialized
interest in clusters of specific tree types, particularly the Ash and
Elm tree species that have potential to be affected by invasive diseases
such as the Emerald Ash Borer or Dutch Elm Disease. This kind of
geographic analysis allows for a much faster response to reports of
these invasive species and targets the efforts necessary to contain
their spread not only within the Village of Riverside, but from
traversing to other neighboring communities.

Specific interest was given to Ash trees within the community and a
series of maps were created to identify where these trees were located
in Riverside. Together the maps were then used to form an index of the
entire community where each page displayed information at a legible
extent. Thus communicating the scope of the analysis in a more
effective manner by combining the Ash tree data in both the parks and
parkways. Lastly, the Public Works Assistant Director, Nathan Thiel,
posted these maps on the village website making it available to all
village residents. Its format allows a resident to choose an area on a
village map and quickly analyze the distribution of Ash Trees in a
specific area. The link to this resource is available at
http://riverside.il.us/ under the Village Quick Links and is titled
“Public Ash Tree Inventory.”​

Utility map books to maintain community infrastructure

The Village of Glencoe relies on accurate utility information in
order to assist the community staff with their daily activities. For
example, the Engineering Department utilizes storm sewer information to
assess and resolve drainage issues as well as general pipe replacement.
The Public Works Department needs accurate utility information to
identify water main size, type and location to respond to water main
breaks. This information has been stored in multiple locations
including engineering plans, record drawings, as-built drawings,
departmental files, and in the minds of seasoned staff members. The
ultimate goal is to organize all this information in one centralized
location that can be easily accessed by village staff for aiding in
their daily workflows.

Using a Geographic Information System (GIS) is most certainly one of
the better options on the market today for achieving this goal. Storing
utility information from resources like as-built drawings, hand drawn
maps and other sources can easily be filed into three specific databases
based on whether it is a storm, sanitary, or water utility system.
These individual databases contain information on the type, size and
location of features including some basics as pipes and manholes for the
sewer system as well as hydrants and valves for the water system.
Also, over time the databases can evolve to not only store accurate
asset location information but also very important engineering
information including rims and inverts of various structures.
Furthermore, these databases are excellent information storing devices
that have the ability to link to external databases as long as a proper
structure identification system is maintained.

In order to easily maintain the utility databases, field note map
books are created. A field note map book is usually an atlas of pages
sized as 17 x 22 inches, where the full community is broken down into
multiple pages by a grid in order to present the map at a 1’=100’ scale.
By using a grid based on the Professional Land Survey township system,
the community can be subdivided into equalized quarter-sections
(northeast, southwest). Once the community is properly split up into
quarter-sections the grid number is placed on its respective field note
map book page.

Using the 1’ = 100’ scale, structures such as manholes and valves can
be easily distinguished and field crews can easily markup the pages for
edits that need to be made to the utility system by the GIS Department.
The notes section on the right of the field note map book page provide
an area where field crews and engineering staff can provide comments on
discrepancies between what is in the GIS and what is said to be true in
the field. Utility lines and structures are labeled with their location
as well as the length and other asset information. Also included on
each page is a site map of the village. This allows field crews and
engineering staff to quickly determine their location relative to the
village.

Field note map books allow the village to collect field updates and
update the utility data within the GIS system. Once changes are
received, the data is input into the GIS system and new field note map
book pages are created. By using field note map books, community staff
can quickly see their updates added to the GIS and gain trust in the
utility data they are using.

Using GIS to realign utility infrastructure

The ways in which waste is removed from our home and how water makes
it into our glasses are often overlooked as processes that just happen
on their own. This is simply not true. In fact, these services provided
by the Village of Morton Grove are looked after very carefully and
thought of as serious village operations. Moreover, it is safe to say
that having an up-to-date inventory of where these utilities are
precisely located is a necessity as well; this is where GIS can help.

The Geographic Information System (GIS) Department routinely utilizes
its valuable resources to analyze the layout of its current utility
infrastructures. By using the aerial photography that the village paid
for in 2006, the GIS Specialist is able to review utility lines and
structures in their current location and compare them to where they are
located on the aerial photography. Since the utility infrastructure data
was originally created at a time when good aerial photography was hard
to come by, many of this data is not one hundred percent accurate.

Although going to the field to identify the locations of utility
lines and structures is a good method, the ability to quickly access
accurate aerial photography and use it in-house allows for a large
percentage of the data to be verified without leaving the desk. This
allows the village to save time and money for a good portion of the
review process.

It is important to note that using GIS not only can enhance the
integrity of the village’s utility data, but it is also key to recognize
that having this accurate data allows for trustworthy calculations.
For example, when the village conducts a water distribution study, they
rely on the most up-to-date data to submit to an outside consultant so
they can obtain the most accurate results. Moreover, when the Sewer
Department wants to inventory what supplies might be needed for an
upcoming project; they can easily look at the current utility
infrastructure in GIS to get some ideas. Without an accurate
foundation, most analyses cannot provide much value but by using
available assets, it is easy to see how GIS can improve the reliability
of utility data and make it a more trustworthy resource.

The aerial photography and utility infrastructure review process, in
conjunction with the help of GIS technology, helps to answer valuable
questions related to the services that the village provides. As times
go on, the village continues to successfully update their utility data
in order to better understand what they currently own and are in control
of, which helps the village to provide a service that on average is not
always recognized.

Village street map approval process

Each year the Village of Deerfield creates an official Street Guide
of the village. This product is developed and consumed by both village
staff and the general pubic. Each year the GIS Department and other
village departments go through a two month review and update cycle of
this product. During the 2009 review and update cycle it was determined
that the village would move this historically black and white product
into a color format. In addition to the color format it was also
decided that a black and white version of the map would still be
maintained for map reproduction using outside sources.

This annual project cycle can be broken down in four phases which
include: Phase 1: Review Phase Phase 2: Pre-Final Review Phase
Phase 3: Final Review Phase 4: Map production and reproduction

Phase 1: The review phase starts with the updating the previous years
map with all known changes collected throughout the year. Secondly, a
memorandum is delivered via e-mail or manually to all of proper village
recipients along a map for review purposes and checklist as what to look
for when conducting the review process. Community staff members that
are typically involved with the map update process include department
heads or managers, GIS Coordinators and GIS ​Consortium board members.
During this phase the village staff will review and provide comments to
the GIS office by a date that is outlined in the title of the
memorandum.

Phase 2: Pre-Final review phase begins after the GIS Department makes
the appropriate changes to the street guide map from the initial review
process and then redistributes new packets with an updated memorandum.
These packets are then sent out a second time to the same village
recipients with comments form previous responses. This is done so that
all village staff employees are able to confirm the changes that were
updated in the initial review. Any additional comments are again
provided to the GIS office by a date that was included in the second
delivered memorandum.

Phase 3: The final review phase is completed when all updates have
been completed and all comments from the village staff have been
addressed. The GIS Department then reviews the map product one final
time for overall map layout clarity and data content accuracy. At this
time, a PDF versions or printed maps are provided to the selected
village staff employees for one final review and authorization. If
there are no further comments at that time the map product becomes
official and moves into the final phase of production.

Phase 4: The map production and reproduction phase begins immediately
after approval is received in Phase 3. The first sets of maps are
printed in-house using the village plotter and distributed to the
village’s staff. After initial distribution, additional maps are
printed and delivered to the Community Development Department and
Village Hall staff for distribution to the public. The final
distribution cycle is then delivered to an outside vendor for product
reproduction and map folding. These maps are then made available to the
public through multiple outlets.

Overall the annual review process ensures the street guide product is
reviewed and updated to reflect the community at the time of
publication. The product involves multiple village departments and
staff members to ensure the end result meets the needs of those who will
eventually be using it. Moreover, community collaboration between the
village employees and the GIS Department help to make a successful end
product good for internal use as well as public distribution.

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.

Checking water meters in GIS

The recent collection of planimetric data or improved features such
as buildings, roadways, parking lots, driveways, etc. in Elk Grove
Village has provided for some new analysis possibilities through its GIS
(Geographic Information System). One of the evaluations conducted was
the distance between primary building structures and also a count of the
number of addresses that exist within each building structure.

The results of this assessment will be shared with the village’s Fire
Department and used to update such information in their database that
inventories the businesses throughout the community. There is additional
potential for use in dispatch to residential buildings for example that
are not currently tracked to understand the number of families affected
in a multiunit event or to realize the close proximity of adjacent
homes on all sides of a building in the event of a house fire.

Local government and mapping

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Local government and mapping have a long history together. The creation of a city or village requires a geographic expression of its corporate limits. Although this textual expression may be useful for the legal profession, the more common presentation of this boundary is a map. Most Americans can visually identify the border of the United States of America. This boundary is made up of thousands of legal documents describing its geometry. A simple map however can easily depict its geography.

Local government is made up of many of these same types of expressions. Property subdivision, parcel ownership, rights-of-way, easements, zoning districts, TIF districts, sanitary districts, school districts, garbage pickup days and many more. In addition, cities and villages provide dozens of services to its customers, residents and businesses. The customer, infrastructure and system that deliver the service have geographic expressions as well. The customer is an address, the infrastructure are the roads, sidewalks, pipes, manholes, bridges, and the system is the routes, service areas and work management. Everything that local government does is related to a location.

Local government understands the correlation between its mission and mapping. A visit to any city or village department will uncover maps of varied size, content, and accuracy. Maps are the tools of local government and without them very little could be accomplished efficiently. These paper, mylar and vellum records document not only what exists but in many cases what came before them. They provide in many cases a history of the community as it grew as well as a consumable visual form for the users.

Although maps are important to local government, they also have an Achilles heal. They are typically not well organized. Departments often create their own maps for their own purposes. It is not uncommon to find multiple address maps throughout an organization. In addition, keeping these manual records up to date is very difficult. Many organizations, not just local government, were struggling with this map dilemma. The first computerized mapping system in the world was created by Roger F. Tomlinson in the 1960s. Dr. Tomlinson initiated, planned and directed the development of the Canada Geographic Information System. This project created the foundation for much of the innovation that makes up a modern geographic information system (GIS). Today this technology is prolific in nearly all government agencies.

Local government has benefitted directly by this technology. Not only can they continue their traditional mapping to support their customers and services, they can do it more efficiently now. By automating mapping, departments can easily share information without duplication. In addition, many public mandates including NPDES, GASB34 and Phase II E-9-1-1 require automated mapping. Without a coordinated GIS, communities again run the risk of having multiple mapping programs by department.

It appears that the long history of local government and mapping will continue. The difference is we are no longer doing it on paper. It is done with advanced computers and technology.

Home rule sales tax

​​​​Home rule is the ability of a Municipal government to facilitate
greater loca
l control over the government decision making process. Home
rule charters, or local constitutions that establish such status, are
voted on by the residents. This article looks at the case to increase
Glenview’s Home Rule Sales Tax (HRST) from 0.5% to 0.75%.​​

The levying of a home rule sales tax is a means to generate village
income. All cities that have a population over 25,000; have a home rule
option in Illinois, municipalities however are optional. A majority of
the communities surrounding Glenview have HRST that greatly exceeded
Glenview’s 0.5%. As of July 1st 2007; Northbrook to the north had a HRST
of 0.75%, Morton Grove to the south was 1.00% and Des Plaines to the
west was levying a 1.00% HRST. The increase in HRST tax was requested so
that the Village could continue to meet the needs of capital
improvement projects which were currently running at a deficient. An
increase would help assure that the quality of infrastructure that
Village residents had come to expect would be maintained.

By providing a map of neighboring communities and their current rates
it gave context to a 0.25% raise. According to the spatial analysis
Glenview’s updated 0.75% rate was not out of line with other North Shore
communities. In all the map depicted 23 comparable communities to
Glenview, 13 of which had HRST of 1.00% and three with 0.75%. Effective
July 1, 2008 the HRST for Glenview was increased from one-half of one
percent (.50%) to three-fourth of one percent (.75%).​