Ready, Aim, Scan with QR Codes

The City of Lake Forest, IL is harnessing the power of maps and mapping applications to share information with city staff and residents. Often maps refer users to another source for additional information. For example, a zoning map might direct people to the city’s Community Development website or a summer festival guide might feature website links of participating food vendors.

The downside is that referencing a website on a printed map forces the user to manually type a web address to access more information. An easy solution is to implement Quick Response (QR) codes on published maps. A QR code acts as a barcode that links to a specific website.  When the code is scanned with a smartphone or tablet, it takes the user directly to the site.

The first step is to determine the associated website. Then Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff creates a QR code using a QR code generator website. Creating a QR code has no cost, is saved as a JPEG and can be added to any publication or map. Once finalized, the user simply scans the QR code with a smart device to instantly access associated content.

QR codes are an intuitive and time-saving way to share content. They give Lake Forest residents a convenient source of information without the extra step of typing in web addresses.

Making Community Events More Interactive

The Village of Mundelein, IL holds a variety of activities throughout the year, which are promoted through traditional outlets, such as newsletters and online calendars.   While these outlets work to inform residents, the village sought a better way to increase public awareness and civic engagement. 

The village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department recommended an interactive, online map to showcase all the events.  This type of environment offers many benefits and is also very customizable to specific requirements and easy to update.  Most importantly, the map lists all the events so viewers can click on any one and instantly see more information.  As a viewer zooms into an area of Mundelein, the list shrinks to only include events which occur in that part of the map. The map can tell the whole story or a very specific story for a neighborhood.

By creating an interactive map, Mundelein gives residents and visitors an online tool to explore events. It represents the village’s continuing commitment to provide the community with easy access to timely information and increase public awareness and engagement.

A Bright Idea for Managing Streetlights

The City of Lake Forest, IL is replacing all its streetlight bulbs with energy-efficient LEDs. With thousands of lights, data management can be challenging. Each location must be marked complete along with information related to wattage and voltage.

Historically, Streets department staff would capture maintenance information on paper or a laptop. Field notes were then transcribed to spreadsheets for future use. To streamline the process, staff is using a mobile asset collection application, Collector, to handle LED bulb management.

With the free Collector application, staff can perform streetlight maintenance using a tablet or smartphone. Streetlight locations are loaded into the app with predetermined fields that the user populates. These include bulb type, voltage, wattage and inventory number. Once a bulb is changed to LED, the location point changes color, indicating the action is complete. Data is extracted as a spreadsheet, eliminating the need for post-processing.

This process can be replicated to capture any inventory in the field on a tablet or smartphone. The mobile app is so intuitive, training time is reduced compared to advanced Geographic Information Systems (GIS) software. Capturing inventory without desktop GIS software saves money on licensing fees and gives the city the flexibility to reproduce the process for other assets.

Mapping the Way to Easy Dining

Communities are hungry for revenue and one of the many venues that attract visitors and dollars are restaurants. Because restaurants regularly change in communities, guides must be modified. The Village of Morton Grove, IL has over 50 restaurants within its boundaries. To help them update their restaurant guide this spring, the Morton Grove Community Development department called upon Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to create a restaurant map.  

Community Development gave GIS staff a list of restaurants in a sequential order that follows how they will be listed in the hand-out. Staff used those addresses to generate a map of each restaurant based on the numbering system that was provided.  By utilizing GIS, Community Development staff offered the public an easy, visual way to see the location of any restaurant in Morton Grove and better understand their dining options.

Branching Out with a Better Tree Planting Route

Trees are one of the many assets that local municipalities manage on an annual or semi-annual basis. One of the ways to promote their vigor and longevity is to schedule plantings to replace damaged, diseased and dying trees. Often the Public Works or Forestry Department hires an outside contractor to handle the plantings. This spring, the Village of Schiller Park, IL called upon Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to create a map of planting locations and an optimal route for their third party contractor.

Public Works provided GIS with a list of addresses adjacent to each tree planting location. After mapping trees to the closest address, staff created an optimized route using GIS software to generate a sequential numbering system. This sequence was used to mark tree plantings, in order, from start to finish. The map was given to Public Works to distribute to the contractor.

By coordinating efforts and generating a map for both the village and third party contractor, staff saved valuable time that can be put towards other projects.

GIS Flushes Out Imperfect Water Quality

Hydrant flushing is an annual task that usually takes place in early spring and lasts approximately one month. Many may view this as a wasteful act or an inconvenience for commuters. However, it ensures the quality of water in village homes is free of discoloration, unpleasant taste and odor.

The build-up of sediment and deposits in the water distribution system causes these negative aspects. The most effective way to purge debris is through unidirectional flushing. This can be very taxing on Public Works departments because the locations of system valves, hydrants and pressurized mains must be identified prior to flushing. The Village of Wheeling, IL relies on unidirectional flushing and maps their entire water distribution system in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The GIS department in Wheeling created hydrant flushing map books to streamline the process for Public Works. (The image below shows a page in the map book.) Each page displays a specific flow boundary that isolates hydrants to their associated water main. Flushing empties the entire water main.

GIS also included the exact order each hydrant should be opened to maximize efficiency. (The red letters in the image below are the sequence for opening hydrants.) Utility map books are not uncommon in Public Works, but GIS provides the necessary customization so local government can more effectively serve the community.

Special thanks to Dustin Chernoff and Jeff Wolfgram in the Village of Wheeling Public Works for providing the necessary information.

GIS Keeps Water and Revenue Flowing

Aging infrastructure affects not only water delivery, but the revenue stream in municipalities. When water mains leak or break, the Village of Tinley Park, IL responds quickly to assess the damage and fix the problem.

Over time, sections of the water main leak or break repeatedly, prompting replacement. To be more proactive in determining which pipes to replace, the village’s Public Works department turned to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) staff to analyze incidents over location and time and determine which sections are high priority.

The analysis compared the age, location, and number of incidents on each pipe section throughout the village. By comparing the density of leaks and breaks within a 33-year period and a more recent 10-year period, those sections with the most incidents were identified and highlighted in maps.

Using these maps, Public Works easily prioritized which ones to replace in the upcoming year. The GIS analysis also gave staff insight into areas of town where leaks and breaks would likely occur in the future.