So, Here’s a Story (Map)

GIS helps plan for next Turkey Trot race

Every November the Village of Lincolnwood, IL Parks and Recreation Department hosts a Turkey Trot 5K and 10K race for residents.  This year the village’s normal route needed to be recertified, which provided an opportunity for staff to re-evaluate their options and look into changing the route from previous years.  To do so, the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department was contacted to help in this process to try and find viable alternative options for routes that maintained the same start and end points, but avoided certain roads to try and reduce the amount of traffic congestion caused by closures. 

Using desktop GIS software, as well as an internet based mapping application called MapOffice™ Web Access, GIS was able to provide multiple examples of available routes that were clear and easily consumable, giving the Parks and Recreation staff a simple way of making this decision leading up to race day.  After the route decision was made, GIS was then able to aid in creating updated route maps that included the new logo for the current year that was used to help plan and promote the event.  These maps were also made available on the village website leading up to Thanksgiving as a resource for participants to view the route, as well as location of water stations, and the start and finish line.

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.

GIS supports Village Commission in goal to make Northbrook more ‘bicycle-friendly”


There are a number of Boards and Commissions within the Village of Northbrook that allow for residential leadership and input on various community topics.  One such group is the Northbrook Bicycle Task Force who works "…to coordinate all bicycle-related initiatives within the community and to review the need for access to bicycle transportation on behalf of the Village…to determine the existing needs, and to make recommendations to make the Village of Northbrook more ‘bicycle-friendly"

The Northbrook Bicycle Task Force approached GIS to help create an online map that residents could use to easily view the recommended and available routes throughout the Village.  GIS was able to digitize the majority of the routes from a paper map that was created for the Task Force by the League of Illinois Bicyclists which ranked the routes by comfort level.  Next, additional trails and information were added based on review by the Task Force members before the map was added to the Village’s online interactive mapping application, MapOffice, for public viewing as a custom overlay.  Also included on the map are difficult intersections, trails, bike rack locations, emergency service buildings, schools, Metra stations, and public facilities for reference.  Now residents are able to easily access and learn more about biking in the Village of Northbrook at their convenience.  Additionally, GIS was able to create a letter sized paper map for the Bicycle Task Force to distribute at various community events they participate in such as the Earth and Arbor Day Celebration.

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.

GIS Helps Map Library Cardholders


                The Village of Lincolnwood partnered with the Lincolnwood Public Library District to work on a GIS project to map the locations of library cardholders within the Village.  This project has allowed the library to better visualize how much of the Village they are currently serving, and the location of any underserved areas.  To complete this project GIS worked to geocode a list of over 5,000 cardholder addresses provided by the Library.  From these points, the corresponding buildings were then selected to better highlight the residences of cardholders in comparison with the other buildings.  

                By highlighting the residences of cardholders on a map the library is now better prepared to serve and aid the Village residents, especially when applying for library cards.  This project has also allowed them to gain a better understanding of the geographic layout of their card holders across the Village.  In this instance the Village of Lincolnwood was able to leverage their GIS capabilities to bridge organizational boundaries and aid the Lincolnwood Public Library District in their efforts.  This project also represents a great base effort and foundation for possible future analysis such as card holder density mapping, or address investigation.

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.

Using GIS to Display City Parks and Amenities


The City of Lake Forest, IL is developing an intuitive application
that will allow residents to view city park locations and related
information. Currently, residents retrieve parks information from the
City’s Parks and Recreation webpage that lists information without a map
or photo component. With the assistance of staff from the Geographic
Information Systems (GIS) department, the Parks and Recreation
department will create a map application that will display the location
of all city parks. Each park will have a unique photo, as well as a
comprehensive list of available amenities and information for each park.

The first step is for GIS staff to acquire all of the parks
information from the Parks Department. The park locations will then be
mapped and the related information will be populated. The parks 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 case park locations and information. The end result of
this project will be a URL web link that is embedded on the city’s

Creating an interactive map showing the city’s parks will provide
residents with a streamlined source of information. Users will be able
to browse city parks, view available amenities (i.e. number of grills,
shelters and baseball fields), and view general park information.
Having this information in an intuitive format and in accessible
location may reduce the amount of resident calls to city staff to obtain
this information.