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.