Village of Glenview Police taking advantage of GIS

The use of Geographic Information System (GIS) to understand spatial
patterns of crime and criminal behavior has become more prevalent in
recent years. The recent introduction of GIS and reporting software has
made this type of analysis increasingly easier. Every several months the
Police Department for the Village of Glenview receives updated maps
showing the location and time of residential and automotive burglaries
along with summary statistics. Looking at the addresses spatially allows
for the detectives to put together possible patterns in criminal

It is important to note that because the village uses New World
Systems for its dispatch and records keeping software. The GIS and New
World Systems is integrated making mapping quick and efficient. The
software uses the GIS data to show squad cars where an emergency is as
well as logging that emergency into a records database. Using these
records the GIS Department and Police Department add the data to a map
providing a spatial context not always readily apparent when responding
to burglaries. By mapping and cataloging incidences, patrol adjustment
may be modified to ensure that problematic areas are receiving increased
resources (i.e. more patrols, increased frequency of patrols). The
inclusion of graphs and charts also gave other police department staff
personnel such as detectives a historical understanding of where crime
has happened as well whether the burglary was categorized as either
residential and/or automotive.

In the past this type of analysis was done on large village wide maps
with push pins where the data could not be easily shared or emailed.
Now with an integrated records/dispatch system and a proper GIS quick
analysis of historical and current data displayed on a fully
customizable and accurate map becomes much easier.

Using free GIS technology to aide local government staff


Information captured in a Geographic Information System (GIS) can be
distributed in many different ways including, but not limited to, hard
copy map prints, electronic image files, Google EarthTM and as an
ArcReaderTM (PMF) project. Of these methods of distribution, ArcReaderTM
has been found to work quite well in Elk Grove Village.

ArcReader is a free data viewing application provided by ESRI, the
leading GIS software development and services provider. This software
allows for the development of customized interactive maps by the
community’s GIS Department that provide for map viewing, printing and
querying of GIS data. ArcReaderTM can be downloaded from the ESRI
website at

So far, ArcReader Projects have been created for the 2009 Alexian
Brothers Bike Race, the Public Works Department, the Clerks Office and
most recently the Fire Department. Each ArcReader project contains basic
community information like addresses, street names, parcels, water
features and roadways as well as more specific information pertaining to
the specific event or department. Some examples of how ArcReader
projects have been used within Elk Grove Village are as follows:

  • The Bike Race ArcReader project provides a shared resource of
    information for all geographical locations pertaining to the race event
    and will continue to evolve as more information is mapped.
  • The Public Works ArcReaderTM project provides information for
    utilities throughout the village as well as department specific
    information that has been mapped such as snow plow routes and tree
    trimming areas.
  • The Clerks ArcReaderTM project includes the zoning, subdivision and annexation layers.
  • The Fire Department ArcReader project incorporates fire districts,
    automatic aide areas, response analysis layers, geographical information
    for the trails, groves, and water depths and hydrant flow information.

Deploying geographic information in this way has provided for a
common location for related information and the ability to view where
these events, infrastructure, services and regulations exist throughout
the community. Once the data is mapped in the GIS it can continue to
expand in accuracy of geographic representation and by capturing
additional attribute information. Often, analysis is requested after
realizing the relationships that exists between all of this information
and the results can bring a significant benefit to a staff, department
or the entire community.

English Language Learners

Using the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS), tabular data
can be visualized and placed into geographically correct places. The
Recreation Department, in conjunction with school districts 74 and 219,
has created a free service for new residents who do not use English as
their primary language to familiarize themselves with the community and
its resources. This service includes a bus tour of important places in
and around Lincolnwood.

The GIS department was asked to assist the Recreation Department by
creating a map. Using GIS, the village was able to create a map for
this event depicting useful resource centers as well as other important
places such as the Post Office and grocery stores throughout the
village. While GIS can be used for detailed geographic analysis, its
roots as a mapping application can also be very beneficial. By placing
and labeling points on a street map of Lincolnwood, residents can easily
navigate and return to places of interest located on the map. Also,
using this map can give the residents and village staff an overview of
the sites not included on the bus tour just as much as the ones the ones
that are. Included in the margin of this map was a list of sites
outside of Lincolnwood’s boundary that are beneficial to new residents,
thus providing one more additional and valuable resource.

By working together it is easy to note that GIS Department in
conjunction with the Recreation Department have come together to help
the residents of Lincolnwood find their way to resource centers located
both inside and outside of the village.

Displaying local parking information in Google


The City of Highland Park Manager’s office has recently required the
need to visually display each city owned parking lot in a map format and
publish these maps to the city’s website. Although their original
methodology of publishing PDF maps of these parking lots would initially
work, the city believed that the organization of these maps could
become confusing when combined with all of the other content on the
city’s webpage. After multiple meetings with the Geographic Information
System (GIS) Department the city decided the best way to organize the
information was to create a Google Map containing a point location for
each city owned parking lot. From there, the parking lot data points
would then contain all of the necessary space designation counts for
each parking lot as well as a link to a corresponding PDF maps. The
benefit of doing it this way was to keep all parking lot information
centrally located and easy to find.

The first phase of the project involved the creation of PDF maps for
each parking lot using existing parking data that was created within the
GIS. The maps were then field checked and marked for errors by the
local city staff. Once all of field checks were completed the data
within the GIS was then edited to reflect what was current in the field
and PDF maps of each parking lot were created.

After the PDF maps were finalized, the next step was to create a KML
(Key Markup Language) file that could be used to integrate with Google
Maps or Google Earth products. The creation of this KML file involved
building a model in ESRI’s Arc Catalog application which took existing
GIS data and converted it to a usable KML file format. The most
important function of this conversion was to ensure that the labels that
were used to display the parking lot information in Google Maps were
readable in a clear and concise manner.

The first KML point file that was created was tested for
functionality within the Google Earth application. Users of this product
could click on a desired point and gather information about the total
amount of parking spaces in a selected parking lot and what designation
was assigned for each parking space. In addition, the Google Earth
application allowed for an accessible link to a PDF map for the specific
parking lot that was selected as well as the ability to print these
PDFs for individual purposes or meeting presentations.

Because Google Earth required each city employee to download an
application to their computer it was decided that Google Maps was a
better alternative since it worked from any internet browser and allowed
the same functionality. The last step was then performed that entailed
placing the Google Map link for the parking lots on the city’s web
server in order to make it easily accessible to all city employees and

In conclusion, the end result of this project created a more
centralized approach to representing the city’s parking structure on the
internet allowing it to be an important decision making tool for the
Intra-City Parking Commission and the residents of the City of Highland
Park. It can also be noted that interdepartmental collaboration between
city departments and GIS allowed this project to be a success.

Link: Highland Park Public Parking Map

Integration of FEMA flood data into community maps

Every year FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) provides
communities with updated maps and flood information to be used to help
determine insurance rates and resident location flood hazards. Included
in this delivery is Geographic Information System (GIS) specific
information that can be integrated into existing community maps. This
combination of information allows the user to recognize trends that may
not be noticeable when looking at separate sources.

In previous FEMA deliveries to the Village of Wheeling, flood maps
were provided showing the different flood zones and the floodway along
the Des Plaines River and the various creeks and streams that flowed
into it. When a resident called to find out if a property was within a
specific flood zone to determine if flood insurance needed to be
purchased, a village employee would have to compare the flood map with a
map displaying addresses and lot lines. By combining the flood map
with the address map with GIS, you get a map clearly showing where the
flood zones overlap lots lines with the respective address. This
process saves time and can provide a more accurate estimate of a
resident’s location to a flood zone.

The flood information provided by FEMA could also be combined with
other data accessible by the village’s GIS. Combining the flood data
with village Zoning and TIF district information can help a prospective
builder make a more informed decision on a building location.

Although all data provided by FEMA and the village of Wheeling
existed prior to GIS, it was never combined in such a way to provide
more accurate information and a map that is easier to use.

Spray location planning

​Through the years, technology has played an important role in the way
we conduct business by increasing productivity, saving time and in the
end saving money. Public Works has recently discussed an idea to
incorporate Geographic Information System (GIS) as a tool to aide
contractors who provide service to turf areas within the village. The
reasoning behind this project is evident; every year a Public Works
employee has to take approximately three days to show the contractor all
areas in town that are required to be sprayed. In order to alleviate
the task of driving through the Village to monitor these spraying
assignments a map was created to depict all designated locations to be
sprayed, thus eliminating the time necessary to escort the contractor
from spray site to spray site.

For this project the first order of business was to locate all spray
areas. Using aerial photography as a base and other GIS layers,
including sidewalks, roads, parking lots and buildings, the GIS was able
to create spray areas very accurately. From here, initial areas were
created by referencing addresses and further revised in subsequent
meetings with employees having institutional knowledge. After the area
boundaries had been finalized, each area was designated a classification
based on when it would be sprayed. This allowed for each
classification to be represented by a different symbol when the map was
produced, permitting the viewer to easily depict which areas need to be
sprayed at certain times.

The high accuracy of data created the opportunity to generate
estimates based on square footage for each area. With this data, the
ability to check the contractor’s estimate in depth is now available.
Having this product available to assist in the location of spray areas
alleviates the necessity to escort the contractor and depicts how GIS
was able to work with the Public Works Department to make a project more


Celebrating 50 Years map

​In 2007 the Village of Lincolnshire celebrated their 50th
Anniversary. To mark this occasion the Village planned multiple events
to occur around the 4th of the July holiday. As part of the planning
phase the Village requested the Geographic Information System (GIS)
Department to review the possibility of creating a custom banner to
celebrate this occasion. The requirements of the banner were two fold,
one, to show and illustrate important village information and two, be
large enough to promote public interaction. The project included the
interaction of multiple village departments contributing valuable input
including content, history and statistical data. The total project can
be broken down into three simple project phases which are listed below:

Phase 1: Planning Phase

Phase 2: Banner Research and Banner Content Development Phase

Phase 3: Banner production and delivery Phase

Phase 1: The Planning Phase lasted one month and was completed four
months prior to the planned 4th of July and 50th Anniversary
celebrations. Based on the information provided to the GIS Department
organization and outlines of the banner’s template began to take shape.
After multiple reviews and adjustments the banner template the overall
concept was completed. The final banner layout was set to be eight-one
inches wide by thirty-six inches tall in order to meet requirements of
the village’s color plotter and the content was to set to include six
separate categories.

Phase 2: The banner research and banner content development phase
finalized the following six categories formulated around a graphic
timeline. The categories included:

  • Graphic maps depicting annexation and corporate limits by decade as the village grew over time
  • Chart timeline showing all past and current village board members and mayors
  • Population growth and statistical timeline
  • Unique village milestones and their respective dates shown along a timeline
  • General village statistics
  • Aerial imagery overviews provided by outside sources for 1939, 1974, and 2006

This phase included multiple reviews, research and update cycles
based on valuable village staff feedback. This phase also included
researching outside sources to finalize banner content.

Phase 3: The third and final phase of this project was production.
From here, the GIS Departments took on the responsibility to take all
the information provided, finalize the banner and use available
resources plot and mount the banner. The banner was completed using
ArcView and exported to PDF format for reproduction. The banner was
then printed in-house using the village’s plotter saving reproduction
costs. The banner was reviewed one final time and then printed on high
quality heavy gloss paper, sprayed with a fixer to avoid any smearing
and mounted on multiple backboards

The final project outcome was well received by both village staff and
the general public. By deploying the proper planning methods and
conducting multiple review cycles all parties involved in the project
were able to provide and take ownership on the overall banner product.
The final banner was completed and proudly displayed at the village’s
50th Anniversary Celebration, a great example of how the village staff
and the GIS Department could work together to accomplish an important
and specific task.

Address Database use within the village

Addresses play an important role in the day to day activities of the
Village of Oak Brook whether it is for water billing information,
permits or locating a resident in case of an emergency. In addition, a
physical address can serve as a link to answering such questions what
school district do I belong to or what zoning district am I in?
However, obtaining information for a specific address often requires
searching through multiple spreadsheets, databases and paper documents.

In order to create a centralized location for the address information
in Oak Brook, a master address database was created in the Geographic
Information System (GIS). This database contains address information
from several sources including water billing, community development and
the official address map produced by the village. In the database, each
address follows the United States Postal standard with a pre direction,
address number, street, pre modifier (such as street or avenue) and a
post direction. The database also stores the status of each address.
This can be set to active if the address currently exists or retired if
the address in no longer valid.

Every address in the database is represented by a point feature known
as an address pin point. This point has specific x and y coordinates
that allow it to be placed in a known location on the earth. This point
is linked to a table containing information about that particular
address including a PIN number, parcel information and assessor

The address pin point is typically placed in the center of the
corresponding parcel. Using aerial imagery and building information,
this point can be placed at the entrance of the main building to better
depict the location of the address. Moreover, this address is stored as a
primary address pin point. A secondary pin point is established for
buildings and parking lots that have the same address as the main
building, but are located on another parcel.

Address pin points allow for quick and simple retrieval of data at a
particular location. Additional data layers including utilities,
subdivisions and library districts can be overlaid onto the address pin
point to quickly determine the location of the nearest fire hydrant to a
property or the number of homes within a particular library district.
This eliminates the need for village staff to check multiple sources for
information which essentially can save both time and money.

Since the address pin points are directly tied to a database, any
additions or deletions can be quickly made and stored as a saved edit.
Addresses can also be labeled and set to a defined scale. Prior to the
creation of the database the village had to manually update every
address on a paper map annually with any changes to the community
boundary, parcels and streets. This took a significant amount of time
depending on the amount of changes in a particular year. Also due to the
large scale of the map, reading addresses in highly dense areas such as
apartment complexes or townhomes proved to be difficult. In GIS, these
addresses can be viewed electronically and maps can be created at any
scale in order to easily view and locate addresses.

Overall, it is easy to see how the creation of a centralized address
database will assist every department throughout the village. For
example, the Community Development Department can quickly locate an
address and determine which zoning district it is apart of without
having to search a zoning map or permits. The Public Works Department
will be able to identify and notify all of the residents that will be
impacted when a water main break occurs and the Police and Fire
Departments will be able to locate and respond to an emergency call at a
particular address. All in all it is safe to say that the enhancements a
village will receive by having an accurate address database will become
known as the GIS programs continues to evolve and relationships with
other departments continue to strengthen.​

Village of Norridge GIS web page

​With a desire to promote the village’s technology profile, the IT Department went forward and created a section of the village website dedicated to the Geographic Information System (GIS) program.
This would allow village residents to access information from their own
computers as well as at their own convenience rather than having to
acquire information from a person in village hall such as they had done
previously done in the past.

The GIS section of the village website consists of two pages. The
first page explains the village’s involvement with the GIS Consortium
and gives a detailed description of GIS aimed at anyone not familiar
with the technology or program. Within this description are a few
examples of how GIS may affect a resident or the community.

The second page gives a list of all available maps in the community
as well as relevant links to outside sources for anyone who wants to
further their understanding of the GIS technology. Each map consists of a
title, date last updated, map size and a link to a PDF to print out
each map. A few examples of some of the maps available are: Bus Routes,
School Districts and Zoning. The inclusion of these maps provides the
village residents with information that wasn’t readily available in the
past. Because the maps are provided in an electronic format, they can be
updated on a regular basis and can be passed on to the resident with
minimal effort.

The maps provided on the website are just a small portion of what can
be created using GIS and information provided by the village.

KML technology to enhance the City’s “Great Eats and More” webpage

In June 2008, the City of Des Plaines Community and Economic
Development Dep
artment started a webpage on the city’s website called
“Great Eats and More”. The idea of the webpage was to highlight various
city restaurants and attractions in an effort to help generate
additional business, thus accentuating some of the things that set Des
Plaines apart from their surrounding communities.

While the list provided on the webpage allows a visitor to see what
is available in the city, it alone does not provide a good frame of
reference as to where each attraction is physically located. To help
enhance the functionality of the webpage, a Google Map feature was
introduced to allow users the option of viewing the list spatially in a
familiar, user-friendly mapping interface.

To assist with this project, the Geographic Information System (GIS)
Department developed a KML (Keyhole Markup Language) file that contains
geographic and attribute information for the businesses listed on the
“Great Eats and More” webpage. KMLs are web files that can be viewed in
many online mapping applications and can be developed for numerous
geographic feature types. The KML developed for the city consists of
point features representing the location of each business.

To customize the Google Map with local city information, an excel
spreadsheet of addresses was provided by the Community and Economic
Development Department and inputted into the GIS software application.
Once spatial features were created for each location, attribute
information was then added. This included the address, website, phone
number and all other necessary information that a visitor would need to
locate or contact each establishment. The attributes included in a KML
are what appear on-screen when a location is selected within Google
Maps. Keeping the KML updated both spatially and with correct
attribute information is critical. As businesses are added and removed
from the Great Eats and More listing, the KML is updated to reflect the
changes. Furthermore, having the map application current with the
webpage listing ensures that visitors can use both options to find a
location, which helps to maximize the website’s functionality and

Introducing a Google Maps application to the city’s “Great Eats and
More” webpage has helped to enhance the ability of visitors searching
for local attractions. Since KML file structures can be used with free
mapping websites, this enhancement was also made at no additional cost
to the city. By providing this mapping application, the city has added
an additional service that helps to make visits to the "Great Eats and
More" webpage more user-friendly.

Link: "Great Eats and More" map