Entries by Pragmatic Applications

Keeping Residents Informed with Sex Offender Mapping



The Village of Northbrook’s Police and Geographic Information Systems
(GIS) departments have teamed up to provide residents with an
interactive map showing the locations and information of sex offenders
within the Village. The process of updating this information for the
residents is easily done with GIS. The Police Department notifies GIS
when a new offender has registered within the Village and GIS then
gathers and downloads offender information from the Illinois State
Police website. A Microsoft Excel macro was created to expedite the
process of cleaning up and formatting data downloaded from the State’s
website, making the process even faster.

A custom layer showing the offender location is created using the
offender data and displayed on the village’s interactive mapping
application on their community website, called MapOffice™. MapOffice™
is an excellent method for displaying offender information by showing,
not only the offender’s location, but also allowing users to interact
with the map. Users can click on the offender location and open a
pop-up window displaying a variety of information that is provided by
the State Police, including a picture. MapOffice™ delivers a
centralized source for this information that is easily kept up to date.

The use of GIS technology has allowed the Police Department to
continue its commitment to serving residents by providing effective
services, such as the sex offender interactive map, to help keep
residents safe and informed.​

Published: 1/13/2014 12:00 AM
Title: Keeping Residents Informed with Sex Offender Mapping

Tax Exempt Property Analysis



The Village of Mundelein, IL needed a more efficient way of
identifying Tax Exempt properties, with the ultimate goal being too
quickly view and query all the tax exempt properties in a given area.
They also wanted to see all tax exempt properties classified into
categories such as public, private, and worship. Knowing the location
of these properties is vital for the Village when developing Tax
Increment Finance (TIF) Districts or Special Service Areas (SSA).

The Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Office used Lake County Tax
Assessor data to locate tax exempt properties and classify them into
categories. The first product created was a paper map of tax exempt
properties used for review. The second product was a custom map layer
created for display in the village’s interactive mapping application,
MapOffice™. This custom layer increased the functionality of the data,
as a user can type in an address in the application and see all the tax
exempt properties in the area around that address.

By having the GIS Office develop a tax exempt property layer in the
village’s GIS applications, the Village of Mundelein is saving employee
time. Employees no longer have to query an area, property by property,
or call the Township office for more information on a property. They
can turn on the custom layer in the MapOffice™ application and
immediately see the location of all the tax exempt properties in the
village limits and use the property classification information to
determine which organization that property belongs to.​

Published: 1/8/2014 12:00 AM
Title: Tax Exempt Property Analysis

GIS Brings Sewer Televising Videos into MapOffice Advanced™



The City of Highland Park, IL contracts with a company to take
televised videos of sanitary pipes in certain areas of the community.
This is essential to making sure these pipes are in good working order
and to identify any issues or obstructions. If there are obstructions
discovered during televising, the sewer foreman is able to have these
problem areas fixed or replaced.

After the televising is complete, the video files are brought to the
Public Works department and loaded onto a local city network drive for
viewing. Each video is placed inside a folder with a unique folder
name that identifies its location and unique pipe number. From there,
the Geographic Information System (GIS) department is able to take those
videos and link them to the sanitary utility pipes that are in the GIS
database. After the videos are linked, the sewer foreman is able to view
all videos through the city’s interactive mapping application,
MapOffice™ Advanced, instead of having to go through a separate program
to open each video individually. Being able to view these videos
through a spatial environment helps to provide context to where each
video was recorded in the city, which saves time and provides efficiency
to the foreman’s video review workflow

Author lroedl
Published: 12/24/2013 12:00 AM
Title: GIS Brings Sewer Televising Videos into MapOffice Advanced™

GIS Assists in Locating Possible Electronic Message Board Sites



Electronic message boards seem to be a common site these days when
traveling down a busy street through a commercial area. These electronic
message boards can convey advertising information pertaining to a
particular business, notifications of a scheduled event on the calendar,
and even public service announcements from the community as a whole.
Currently, the City of Park Ridge contains no electronic message boards
within its borders, but it is looking into the possibility of changing
that. In order to do that, however, some guidelines needed to be
specified in order to limit the possible locations that an electronic
message board could be placed. These guidelines included that a parcel
must be greater than two acres in size, must be located on an arterial
street, and only certain commercial and special use zoning types be

Armed with all this information, it was up to GIS to determine the
possible locations for the electronic message boards. Using the criteria
stated above, a model was created to determine any parcel that matched
all three of the previously stated criteria. Once those parcels were
determined, a map was created to present this information at future city
council meetings where the ultimate decision on whether or not to allow
these electronic message boards will be made. Without GIS, a city
employee would be charged with the unenviable task of manually searching
for parcels that fit all of the stated criteria by hand, adding hours
of time to complete this project.​​​

Published: 12/5/2013 12:00 AM
Title: GIS Assists in Locating Possible Electronic Message Board Sites

Holiday on the Square with GIS



Special event mapping occurs throughout the year in Des Plaines. City sponsored events involve a lot of moving parts and many departments working together for a common goal. It can be a struggle to keep everyone on the same page, but almost all event information and planning is geographically centered. This common features aides in smooth event planning and execution.

The holiday tree lighting ceremony is an annual event that takes in downtown Des Plaines. This year it’s happening on December 6. It’s a family event and the city works closely with the local schools to involve students. This year the event is featuring Christmas trees decorated by students with hand crafted ornaments, musical performances, roasted chestnuts, hot beverages, canned food drive and of course Santa arriving on the Des Plaines Fire Engine.

With all of these activities going on and especially with the large number of students attending the event, safety is a top priority. With maps provided to the emergency management staff and volunteers before the event, they know the exact location activates as well as where the emergency access points are. If an incident were to occur staff will be able to respond swiftly and without delay.

Published: 12/9/2013 12:00 AM
Title: Holiday on the Square with GIS

GIS Supports Community Resource Center



The Village of Woodridge provides services to residents in need of education and support through their Community Resource Center. This center, which is supported mainly by the Woodridge Police Department, provides after school and summer programs for students, parenting support, ESL classes, and computer learning classes to residents. To assess the effectiveness of the Community Resource Center’s youth after school and summer programs, GIS was used to provide supporting materials for Village Board review.

GIS was used to create a map showing the distribution of student residences. Since many of the students live in multi-family buildings, the locations were color-graded to identify places where multiple students live. In addition, graphs were created using GIS data that displayed the socioeconomic characteristics for the students enrolled in the programs, which will be used to review the Center’s current service levels. This map and the associated graphs were included in a memo to the Village Board that details the attendance, programming, and staffing for the after school and summer programs. Maps and visual aids that are created using GIS provide a clear and concise view of data that may be difficult to interpret otherwise.

Published: 11/26/2013 12:00 AM
Title: GIS Supports Community Resource Center

Village in the Forest Uses GIS to Conduct a Public Tree Census



The Village of Riverside is known as the Village in the Forest and is a National Landmark known for its natural conservation design boasting more parks per capita than any community in America and is nicknamed the Village in the Forest. Tree and tree management are an integral part of the natural landscape design of the village. With the infestation of the Emerald Ash Borer; tree inventory management has become more important than ever for the village. In the summer of 2013, the village forestry department conducted a census of village managed trees. With the assistance of GIS this census was able to be completed using village forestry staff as opposed to having to hire a contractor at an additional cost to the village. GIS was able to provide staff in the field with mapping data of already inventoried trees as well as other base data such as buildings for locating new trees. Along with assisting with the collection process, GIS also is being used to store and manage changes to the inventory. Having the tree inventory managed by staff helps to save the village money and it also allows the village to take ownership over one of its most important assets, it’s trees.

Published: 11/22/2013 12:00 AM
Title: Village in the Forest Uses GIS to Conduct a Public Tree Census

Using GIS to Support Community Development Block Grants


Blog_UsingGIStoSupportCommunityDevelopmentBlockGrants.pngThe Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) is a federal block grant, a grant with only general provisions, which can be used to fund a variety of local community development projects. Des Plaines qualifies as an Entitlement Community meaning they are a larger city and they receive their own funding rather than having it administered at the state or county level. All program activities aim to benefit low and moderate income persons, prevent or eliminate blight, meet a need having particular urgency.

In order for CDBG funds to benefit low to moderate income persons the funds must be spent in census tracts where at least 51% of the beneficiaries must be low and moderate income. These census tracts are determined by HUD. There are instances when funds can be spent outside of the designated census tracts, but you much support your case and justify why the funds will serve their intended purpose.

Des Plaines has invested lots of CDBG funding in the South Central area of the city. A blighted area in the South Central area was identified as a priority to improve. The site was just outside of two low to moderate income tracts. Therefore the CDBG administrator needed to provide evidence to gain approval to use the funds. By utilizing GIS the administrator was able to provide HUD a map showing the location of past CDBG projects, qualifying census tracts, and housing density and their proximity to the potential project location. The map helped strengthen the City’s proposal and provided a clearer image of the project’s goals.

Published: 11/10/2013 12:00 AM
Title: Using GIS to Support Community Development Block Grants

Digital Terrain Modeling


Blog_DigitalTerrainModeling.pngThe Village of Northbrook, IL has recently contracted an engineering consultant to perform a hydraulic analysis of the Village’s water system. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) was called upon to provide the consultant with all data pertaining to the water system including mains, hydrants, laterals, and valves. In order to provide the Village with highest quality analysis, the consultant required a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) in order to calculate pressures within the water system. A DTM is a digital model or representation of the Earth’s surface which provides elevation information.

The Village of Northbrook did not have a DTM to provide the consultant, nor the time or money to have one created by conventional means, which involves having an airplane fly over an area and record elevation points using lasers. GIS was able to use contour (elevation) data that the Village had previously gathered to create a DTM with acceptable accuracy for the project. The model depicts the higher elevations in red and lower elevations in green. The extreme high and low elevation values in the village, including roadways, bodies of water, and hills, can easily be viewed in the DTM.

Using GIS technology, the Village was able to provide the engineering consultant with the best available data. In return, the Village will get the best available results of the hydraulic analysis to help improve the overall performance of the water system.

Published: 11/7/2013 12:00 AM
Title: Digital Terrain Modeling

GIS Incorporates Recapture Agreements into MapOffice


Blog_GISIncorporatesRecaptureAgreementsintoMapOffice.pngThe City of Highland Park previously kept all recapture agreements on file and in EDENS with no real spatial association. This meant that a city employee could look up an agreement through EDENS but to view the paper copy would need to locate it in a file drawer from Engineering. This system becomes cumbersome and is where GIS can the solution. The City came up with a plan to incorporate all recapture agreement documents in GIS and ultimately in MapOffice™ to be viewed by staff. This would include all of the information for the agreements that are in EDENS as well as links to the scanned agreements themselves.

Using GIS, all information from EDENS was documented in attribute data and spatially located based on PIN’s. From there, all documents were scanned in and documented in GIS to create a link in MapOffice™. Now, City staff has the ability to view all recapture agreements and the scanned document in one location, MapOffice™.

Without the use of GIS, staff would still be looking up information in two locations without a spatially identified location. By placing this information in GIS, staff reduces the amount of time spent retrieving information.

Published: 11/4/2013 12:00 AM
Title: GIS Incorporates Recapture Agreements into MapOffice