Entries by Mitch Greenan

Fire Hydrant Flow Rates


Every few years, coinciding with Emergency Management’s ISO Review, The Village of Glencoe contracts out companies to provide Hydrant Flow Rate Testing out in the field.  This past year, M.E. Simpson Co., Inc. did the testing and upon completion provided the Village with a report containing flow rate and other information pertaining to each fire hydrant.  This data was then integrated with the Village’s current water model so it can be used by Emergency Management and other departments.


The Village provided M.E. Simpson Co., Inc. with a scaled down version of its hydrant database, which included a unique Hydrant ID.  By providing a unique ID number, combined with location information, the Village was able to seamlessly integrate the data back into their GIS water model eliminating the ambiguity in hydrant locations.  With the updated data now in the GIS model, village staff can now view it using the in-house GIS Mapping Software, MapOffice™, or in traditional paper maps.  By using the unique ID number, the Village was able to eliminate a lot of issues with trying to integrate data collected out in the field with data currently in the GIS model.

Published: 5/7/2014 1:46 PM
Title: Fire Hydrant Flow Rates

GIS System Integration with Finance Databases


Like all local governments, the Village of Glencoe Finance Department uses software to manage all their accounts.  The department has been looking for ways to analyze and add a visual component to specific sets of data such as vehicle stickers or water billing.  The GIS department uses a feature called Business Intelligence, which is a way for the GIS system to integrate with Village databases and software.  Because the connection is to live data, anytime the Village databases are updated, the changes are reflected in the Village’s in-house mapping software, MapOffice™.   The databases are typically linked via address or PIN Number, which allows the mapping software to plot each data record on the map.  The data records can then be queried by specific attributes that are contained within the data.  This allows the Finance department to see such things as which residents haven’t bought a vehicle sticker, which houses have their water turned off, and which ones have purchased pet licenses, among other things.  By providing a visual aspect to a set of data tables and with the ability to query specific attributes, the Finance department is able to do more complex analysis that wouldn’t normally be possible.

Published: 5/7/2014 1:44 PM
Title: GIS System Integration with Finance Databases

Comcast Address Verification


In order to be compliant with the 65 ILCS 5/11-42-11.05 (Municipal Franchise Fee Review; Request for Information), Comcast is in the process of verifying that that addresses in their database apply to the correct community. The state law requires that Comcast continues to provide franchise fees from annexed properties to the county from which the property was annexed for a period of 5 years from the date of annexation. Comcast provided a set of addresses for Elk Grove Village to verify as being part of the village.


GIS Staff was tasked with determining whether or not any of the provided addresses were located within the municipal boundary of Elk Grove Village. As you can see in the image above, the points were placed according to their address information. By checking the intersection between the address points and the village boundary, GIS staff was able to quickly determine whether or not the information provided was correct. The Village Manager’s Office was provided with both a map symbolizing the distribution of the addresses, and an excel document that listed which addresses were located within the village and those that were not. Without GIS staff would have to rely on a historical or tax database in determining if the addresses were incorporated.

Published: 5/7/2014 1:40 PM
Title: Comcast Address Verification

GIS Assists with Fire Department Dispatch Transition



In September of 2013 the Des Plaines City Council approved allowing the Fire Department to switch dispatch services from the Des Plaines Emergency Communication Center (DPECC) to Regional Emergency Dispatch (RED) Center.  RED Center is a consortium of 14 area fire departments, located in Northbrook, which provides dispatch services. 

Changing dispatch providers is large undertaking which involves many moving parts.  Every detail is of the utmost importance because residents’ lives depend on the response time of emergency services.  One of the biggest components of the transition was providing RED with the address data for the entire city.

In order for the address data to be input into RED’s computer aided dispatch (CAD) system the Fire Department needed to determine the street address ranges of every road segment.  Road segments were determined by splitting roads at intersections.  Intersections include anything that crosses the road such as another road, railroad, trail or river.  The Des Plaines Fire Department utilized GIS and GIS data in order to construct the address information needed by RED.  Using tools within ArcGIS the street address range and intersection data were combined in order to create address ranges on the left and right side for each road segment.  Fire response grid data was also applied to the newly created address ranges in order to determine which response grid they fall within.  By utilizing GIS and its available tools the Fire Department was able rely on a mostly automated process to create the necessary data rather than an entirely manual review which would have taken a lot more time and would have been subject to a greater risk of human error.    

Published: 5/7/2014 1:38 PM
Title: GIS Assists with Fire Department Dispatch Transition

Using GIS to Assist with Fire Hydrant Maintenance


The Des Plaines Public Works & Engineering Department is tasked with maintaining a majority of the fire hydrants found in the city.  It’s important that they are well maintained, so in case of an emergency the Fire Department can count on the equipment to function properly.  Hydrants are cared for every other year; therefore hydrants are checked in either even or odd years. 


Historically, the Public Works department would color, with markers, the hydrants on a citywide water system map based on their maintenance year (even or odd).  If changes were ever made to the maintenance schedule they would color a new map and post it to the wall.  In order to make this process more efficient and with a lot less manually input, the data was digitized and entered into GIS.  The even and odd year maintenance areas were drawn in and when updates are needed the information will simply be changed in the GIS data rather than having to re-do the entire system map.

The newly created hydrant maintenance maps were printed off and given to the maintenance crews to keep in their vehicles while doing inspections.  The secretary who previously was tasked with coloring the maps is very excited to spend her time on more pressing issues.

Published: 5/7/2014 1:35 PM
Title: Using GIS to Assist with Fire Hydrant Maintenance

Story Map Helps Celebrate Earth and Arbor Day


Every year the Village of Northbrook holds an Earth and Arbor Day Celebration open to the public to raise awareness about sustainability and conservation efforts.  The festivities include a recycling drop off area, vendor expo featuring over 50 different vendors showcasing sustainable products and ideas, the chance to volunteer to clean up community areas, and fun activities for the whole family such as live music and pony rides.  To help advertise and inform residents of all the different events and opportunities offered the Village of Northbrook asked GIS to make an Online Story Map. 


A story map was ideal for this because it is customizable, eye catching, and user friendly.  In the case of the Earth and Arbor Day Celebration, tabs for each activity complimented the map window to show the details and locations of the different events.  Bookmarks were also used to allow users to easily zoom to the different clean up areas that were located further from the main festivities.  Another reason the story map was a great solution for Northbrook was that it allowed the event organizers to continuously update the web map to reflect vendor additions and changes as they occurred, and the view tracking feature made it easy to monitor the map usage leading up to the event.  Overall the map helped to promote the event and gave Village residents the ability to dynamically explore everything the celebration had to offer in advance so they did not miss out on any of the fun.

Published: 5/7/2014 1:22 PM
Title: Story Map Helps Celebrate Earth and Arbor Day

Utilizing Water Main Break Data


​The Village of Northbrook Public Works Department has collected water main break data for decades.  Public Works approached GIS to find a way to better utilize the large amounts of data collected over the years as well as track new water main breaks. 


Water main break data was originally stored in tabular format.  The first step to better utilize this data was to visually display it on a map so Public Works could see the data.  This provided Public Works the ability to look for historical patterns and perform analysis to aid in water main replacement decisions.  A custom overlay was created on MapOffice, an interactive web mapping application, which allows all Public Works staff to view water main break locations and the associated data.

After the creation of the custom overlay on MapOffice, Public Works staff requested a method to retrieve reports and photographs that pertain to individual water main break events.  These documents and photographs were placed in Laserfiche, a document storage system, and can be retrieved using the custom overlay in MapOffice through hyperlinks.  Now Public Works has the ability to easily retrieve documents and review data from past water main breaks to expedite the repair on new main breaks in the same vicinity.  

The utilization of the tools provided by GIS has saved time and energy for staff with a single source for viewing, analyzing, and preparing for water main breaks. 

Published: 5/7/2014 1:02 PM
Title: Utilizing Water Main Break Data

Updating GIS information with Sewer Televising Software


The Village of Mundelein, IL recently updated their sewer televising equipment to software called Granite XP.  This software is designed to integrate with Geographic Information Systems (GIS) so that updates can be transferred from Granite XP to the GIS database and vice versa.  This allows data to be simultaneously updated in the field and the office and then synchronized so both sets of changes can be integrated together.

Granite XP uses GIS information to track where a pipe is currently being televised as the camera moves along.   The camera operator logs the location of service laterals, cracks, roots and other types of events that are discovered in the pipe, using the pipe length and diameter information from GIS to determine where within the pipe these events occur.   The village GIS department can use the event information collected in the field using Granite XP, such as the location of service connections, to add missing information to the GIS data.  Conversely, the operators can use Granite XP to update existing GIS data based on their observations in the field.  For example, they can update pipe diameter, material or even add missing pipes and structure.

Granite XP is a great example of how an application can tie into GIS to enhance existing data and provide a more robust resource for making infrastructure decisions.  By accessing existing data in the field, an operator can quickly and accurately locate the project area that needs to be televised and update the project area utilities as needed without the need for printed maps or other supplemental resources.

Published: 4/9/2014 4:00 PM
Title: Updating GIS information with Sewer Televising Software

Using GIS for City Tours


​This spring, The City of Lake Forest, IL is set to host their first annual Tree Walk. The Tree Walk Event will guide participants throughout the Central Business District highlighting different species of trees. GIS staff is assisting with developing an intuitive application that will allow residents to view tree locations and related information all while using their cell phones.

The first step is for GIS staff to acquire the tree information from the Forestry Department that will discussed throughout the tour. The tree locations will then be mapped and the related information will be populated. The tree locations and data will be loaded into an online map environment, called Story Maps, which is powered by ESRI’s ArcGIS Online application. The Story Maps interface provides a user the ability to host an inactive map showing localized data, in this instance tree locations and information. The end result of this project will be a URL web link that will be provided to the Tree Walk participants.


Creating an interactive map rather than using paper maps will provide residents with a streamlined method of participating in the Tree Walk. Users will be able to browse through the stops of the tour, view related tree species information.  Having this information in an intuitive format on a mobile application allows residents a unique and innovative experience.

Published: 4/1/2014 7:07 AM
Title: Using GIS for City Tours

Fire Incident Live Mapping Using Business Intelligence


In the past, the Elk Grove Village Fire Department has only been able to view its Fire Incident data in a map view, using the Firehouse software application. GIS has successfully connected directly to Firehouse data to create a live mapping view of Fire Incidents for Fire Department staff. Not only can Fire Department Staff now view Fire Incidents within the village by date, but they can also select by type of incident at the same time!


The Fire Incident Business Intelligence view in MapOffice will not only provide staff with a simple, easy to use mapping tool for Incident location lookup, but it can be used to identify patterns in incident location or incident type. For example, if there have been numerous fires occurring within a certain area, Fire Department staff could identify the pattern using the Fire Incident view in Business Intelligence to help determine the cause. Another benefit is that this is a live data connection, which saves time by removing an update procedure to be performed by GIS staff. The live data connection is just one of many great benefits of a Business Intelligence Connection. Lastly, by demonstrating this incident mapping technology, Fire Department staff will take more care and quality assurance as to the address or incident location put into Firehouse database. By doing this, there will be an increase in the quality of incident data in addition to the knowledge of the countless possibilities of analysis that may be performed.

Published: 4/1/2014 7:04 AM
Title: Fire Incident Live Mapping Using Business Intelligence