So, Here’s a Story (Map)

Highland Park Launches Community Portal


The City of Highland Park made a recent addition to the main page of the website; Property Search, also known as Community Portal. Highland Park has long been directing the public to MapOffice Public for their information needs but now the public has another site at just the click of a mouse.

Community Portal makes looking up property information quick and easy.  On the front page of the Highland Park webpage is a "Property Search" widget that directs the public to enter an address for more information.  When an address is entered in, Community Portal launches itself with a "Property Summary" landing page. Multiple tabs of information are provided within Community Portal and it is completely customizable based on the community’s needs. The idea behind Community Portal that makes it so different from MapOffice is that not all information needs to be displayed on a map such as garbage pickup day/time, rather just text information is needed which is where Community Portal steps in. It is the simplicity and ease of use that makes Community Portal so beneficial to Highland Park.

As Highland Park begins to understand what information the public is looking for, Community Portal will be developed further around that. As stated earlier, it is completely customizable based on the communities needs and that is how Highland Park will advance itself in providing need to know information to the public. More to come with Community Portal!

GIS Directly Links the Public to Capital Improvements

The City of Highland Park has been using GIS for many years but recently more advances have been made, specifically in the way in which the public can view the capital improvements in the City. Previously, when the public would want information on the capital improvements, they would call into Public Works and be directed to MapOffice Public and then to the custom overlay to locate the information. This method worked for the city but GIS worked at developing an easier way for the public to view the information on their own or through just a click of one button! The solution was MapOffice Public and a direct constructions project link on the City webpage.


Now, when the public calls in for information on capital improvements in the city, staff only needs to direct them to the City webpage and to click on "Construction Projects."  From there, automatically MapOffice Public appears and the capital improvements custom overlay is brought up! No instructions needed to locate the custom overlay because it is already visible at the click of one button! This has drastically improved the way in which staff directs residents to the capital improvements and cuts back on the individual call time.

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

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.

The City of Highland Park Uses GIS to Assist the CIP Budget Meetings


The City of Highland Park, IL has a five-year Capital Improvement
Program (CIP) that is updated annually and brought in as part of the
budget process. The main goal of a CIP is to replace or rehabilitate
existing equipments, infrastructure and facilities. This would include
items such as streets, bridges, sidewalks and paths, storm sewers,
sanitary sewers, ravines and water utilities. For the upcoming 2014
budget meetings, the Geographic Information System (GIS) Department was
asked to assist with displaying the information through maps. This gave
visual meaning behind all the charts, graphs and numbers that are in the
budget presentations.

The City of Highland Park wanted to display not only the 5-year
budget, but also the upcoming 2014 yearly budget. GIS created multiple
maps depicting the areas of improvements for street maintenance,
sidewalks, bike walks, storm sewers, sanitary sewer, ravines and water
utilities. Also, a map was created to show all projects in the 2014
year. These maps were then used in a PowerPoint presentation along with
chart, graphs, numbers and other information to depict the improvement

With GIS, these presentations became more powerful from the visual
aspect and gave meaning behind all the information, making it more
concise. By utilizing GIS, The City of Highland Park has been able to
bring this technology into many different areas and departments and even
into budget meetings.

GIS Begins Bringing in Sewer and Storm Televising Videos into MapOffice


The City of Highland Park has long been tracking the condition of the
Sewer and Sanitary pipes through PipeTech and televising videos. These
videos help to understand the condition of these pipes and if any
repairs or replacements need to be completed. These videos are made
specifically through PipeTech and viewable through their application in a
.ptv file. However, new measures are in place to centralize sewer and
sanitary data in MapOffice. This will give the user the ease of seeing
all the data in MapOffice instead of going to multiple locations. With
that, The City of Highland Park GIS has developed a way to bring these
PipeTech videos into MapOffice.

Currently, this process is underway and is seeing much development
with data. These videos are linked in GIS with unique ID numbers which
will enable the multiple videos to be viewed on one pipe. This will be
viewable in a Custom Overlay and managed through GIS. As new videos are
inputted with PipeTech, GIS will bring these videos in through there
file path and into MapOffice.

Without GIS, Public Works would need to view these videos in a
separate application and would not be able to see any other attributed
data to that pipe. Now, with this new data development, Public Works
will be able to view the videos and data in one centralized location in

Special Event Using GIS: Firecracker 5K Run & 2-Mile Walk


The City of Highland Park hosts many special events throughout the
year, especially in the summer months and holiday weekends. These types
of events require much planning and developing when roads are to be
closed and redirecting traffic is needed. These events require many
departments coordination, such as, Public Works and Police. To assist in
this coordination, GIS creates maps to assist with the set up and
direction of routing.

For the Firecracker 5K Run & 2-Mile Walk, routing was completed
to show the paths of each run or walk. This will be handed out to the
volunteers directing the route and the runners/walkers to get a better
idea of the direction they will be going. Also, police are given these
maps to better understand where to block off roads and monitor the large
group of people. GIS has assisted these special events with becoming
more efficient in the preparation of these large events.

EDENS Update Process is Enhanced by GIS

​The Tyler Edens application is a vital financial and permit
enterprise system that gives the City of Highland Park easy access to
tracking finances and permits. To make this system perform effectively,
it requires accurate and updated base data such as address and owner
information. This data is readily available from Lake County but in its
original form would not work for the Edens System, so GIS is used to
mold this data into one easy to use table. Previously, a simple Model
Builder script was used to transform the County data, clean it up and
put it into an acceptable form for Edens. An export file would then be
sent to the correct Highland Park IT staff for further analysis. This
was done between 1-2 times a year and was being started manually by GIS
staff. Now, a new Python Script has been developed to make this a smooth
and nearly effortless process that can be completed more often.

With the development of a new script, GIS has created a monthly
scheduled task to run that will create an output table of cleaned up
Lake County Data for delivery to the IT Department. This new change will
provide Edens with more up to date data that is more reliable for the
City of Highland Park.

Without GIS, the Edens application would not contain such vital and
valuable data and would not be able to view more up to date information.
GIS gives Edens reliable data in an easy to use and understand table
for users.

Using MapOffice Public to Display Historical Landmark Properties


The Highland Park Community Development Department recently
collaborated with GIS to map the City’s Historical Landmark Properties.
Community Development keeps an active and ongoing database of every
landmark location within the city. The one component absent from the
landmark database is an intuitive method that spatial represents this
information. Community Development enlisted the assistance of GIS to
visually display the City’s landmarks using MapOffice ™.

The Historical Landmark Properties spreadsheet database was given to
GIS personnel and integrated into the City’s GIS data. The database
included landmark addresses with associated information for each
property. Those addresses were geocoded (mapped) and published to
MapOffice ™ as a custom overlay. The custom overlay allows users to
promptly navigate to an area and visualize Historical Landmark
Properties. The Landmark Properties were divided into two categories,
Local Landmarks and National Registry Landmarks. By selecting a
property, a dialog box will appear that displays information associated
with that specified location. This layer was also made available in
MapOffice ™ Public which allows residence the same access landmark
locations and information.

MapOffice ™ enables the Historical Landmark Properties database to be
visualized in one, easy to use application. As Community Development
and GIS continue to collaborate the amount of information available to
staff and residents will increase.