A Rising Interest in Emergency Event Support

Business Intelligence Launches in Northbrook


The Village of Northbrook has recently launched the MapOffice Web Access tool called Business Intelligence.  Business Intelligence is a tool that allows users to filter and display live data from community or custom databases. 

Three attributes of Business Intelligence, filtering, visualization, and live data, make it a very powerful tool.  Business Intelligence allows users to visualize data on a map by plotting that data by address or XY coordinates.  Many times, community databases or software do not have great ways to display the wealth of data they hold.  Business Intelligence helps solve this problem by connecting to those databases and displaying the data on MapOffice so users can gain further incite about the data or look for trends.

When looking for trends it is sometimes necessary to manipulate how you view the data.  Business Intelligence permits the user to filter the data by date and/or a field within the data.  For example, Northbrook has set up a connection to a custom home foreclosure database that allows users to filter foreclosures by date and the foreclosure status.  Now the user can narrow the data that is displayed to show only what they are interested in.

Finally, Business Intelligence offers live connections to the databases.  This can be extremely powerful as users can view and analyze data held in the database as it is updated without having to wait for data to be uploaded to MapOffice.

The Village of Northbrook looks forward to taking advantage of this useful and powerful tool by connecting to community databases and software such as FireHouse, an ERP system, and many others to come.

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 Consortium 3D Mapping Potential


A recent objective of the technical staff in the GIS Consortium (GISC) has been to investigate the potential for 3D mapping and to be sure the GISC’s data model continues to advance and support these new technologies easily.  3D mapping in GIS has been possible for some time now, but it has always been a matter of the ease of doing so.  The value of the 3D products must provide a benefit greater than the time and software costs required to create them.


The GISC’s software provider, ESRI, has an extension called 3D Analyst which provides the 3D mapping opportunities by rendering GIS data that has elevation, height, or level information assigned to it.  A new addition to their suite, called CityEngine, provides for texturing of data to make it appear even more real if needed, but much more time is required to add those components to the map.  These zoning and tree infestation images highlight the kind of maps that can be created and analysis that can be performed using 3D Analyst.  It is quite clear how valuable the third dimension of information is to communicate the volume of infrastructure, natural or manmade, that exists in an area and the impact they have on their surroundings.  GIS is a decision support tool and 3D obviously has a part to play for the GIS Consortium member communities.

ArcGIS Online Finder Application


ArcGIS Online provides many downloadable applications that can be used on smartphones, tablets, and desktops.  This includes web application templates, which are specifically designed to take a web map and then apply graphics, charts, and other related information.  The templates are easy to use and require minimal coding and configuration to get them up and running.  One of these templates is the Finder Application, which is a configurable application template that allows the user to use an attribute search on various feature layers.  This is similar to the Find and Go feature on MapOffice™, but it can be configured to search for any feature attribute, not just address information.

Currently, the GIS Consortium and communities are using the ArcGIS Online Finder Application to create small web based maps that can’t be currently created in MapOffice™.  The Village of Deerfield has put together a web map that allows residents to search a cemetery for specific graves based on the deceased name, and The Village of Lake Forest has an application that allows a user to search for local landmarks.  By using the ArcGIS Online Finder Application, the communities of the GIS Consortium are using new technology to make data querying easier and more efficient.

Analyzing Ambulance Response Using GIS

Improving emergency response times in a community requires knowledge of areas that receive a large volume of dispatch calls, as well as past trends that may help in forecasting future response needs.  To assist with conducting this type of analysis, the Village of Tinley Park, IL EMS department leveraged their local Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department to acquire this knowledge for consideration when determining whether to renew an existing ambulance contract or move on to explore other options. 

To analyze past call pattern trends, GIS was used to spatially display ambulance call locations from 2012 through 2014 to help visualize areas of high volume, both overall and for several different scenarios.  A series of maps were created that displayed the count of calls by address, as well as a "hot spot" map that compares localized call densities to determine areas of high activity and areas of low activity.  When these maps are compared side-by-side, the user can determine call trends over the last few years and how these trends could impact the village residents based on the chosen service provider.

In addition to identifying trends in call volume, call density mapping can also be used as a data exploration tool for public safety department staff when determining what may be the cause for areas that have experienced increased or decreased call activity. Once these areas of interest have been determined, future analysis can be done to determine if department response initiatives, socioeconomic factors, or other influences may be the cause.

Vulnerable Resident Locations


Natural disaster events are unavoidable and unpredictable. The best
thing a community can do is prepare for any situation that may arise as
best they can. This means being proactive and creative in visualizing
scenarios and thinking of ways to handle those situations effectively.
It was through this process that the Village’s Human Services Department
decided to contact its geographic information system (GIS) department
to assist them in the event of an emergency.

The Village’s Human Services Department provides a plethora of services
to all Skokie residents from short-term counseling to social services.
One of those services includes assisting senior residents. In the event
of an emergency event, like a flood, being able to quickly identify
those residents who are affected and contacting them to ensure their
safety is important. To accomplish this GIS was given access to a
database of the Village’s vulnerable resident addresses and phone
numbers. These individuals were mapped out and added as a custom layer
in the Village’s mapping application MapOfficeTM Advanced. This allows
the Human Services Department employee to interactively pan the map,
quickly identify the resident, and get that resident’s location and
phone information at the click of a mouse.  

GIS Supports Recent Flood Emergency Response Efforts

​We contributed an article on page six of the Illinois City/County
Managers Association (ILCMA) June 2013 newsletter.The article discusses
the vital role of GIS when it comes to emergency response. It
illustrates that a GIS program is a powerful asset for a community’s
emergency response infrastructure and provides some recommendations to
local governments on how to utilize GIS more effectively. The full
article is available on the ILCMA website.