An Address is to a Location as a Social Security Number is to a Person

So, Here’s a Story (Map)

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.

Updated Photogrammetric Mapping History for GIS Consortium Members

​A proactive approach is taken every year to update GIS Consortium members on how current their spatial data is. The GIS Consortium photogra​mmetric vendor is a nationwide engineering, mapping and survey firm that provides high-accuracy geospatial data that the counties cannot. All available orthophoto (aerial imagery similar to what one might see on Google), planimetric (roads, buildings, rivers) and topographic (elevation) data is visualized by the year it was purchased. Aerial LiDAR coverage is also shown with the topography data. This technology produces surface models from laser pulses emitted from a helicopter or plane. The color-coded maps allow communities to budget for updated data by seeing which areas have been updated in the past and if those areas have seen any significant construction or demolition over the years.

Collecting and maintaining accurate data for a Geographic Information System (GIS) program assures the base map is complete and allows GIS users, municipal employees, and decision makers to consume precise data and make decisions based on accurate, complete data. Commercial mapping companies​s might provide good data from a regional perspective, but their price and low precision are not ideal for local governments. Up-to-date photogrammetric and topographic data is beneficial to both MGP, Inc. employees as well as their clients.

Accessing Laserfiche through MapOffice(TM)


Over the years, the Village of Northbrook has scanned paper documents including, engineering drawings and plat maps in the effort of going paperless using software called Laserfiche. Laserfiche provides a framework for storing, organizing, and searching scanned documents. There are many benefits to having paper documents digitized including the ability to create backups and reducing staff’s time that went towards manually searching through boxed historical records.
The GIS Consortium created an easy way to find these documents using MapOffice. Staff can save time by locating the address they are interested in on MapOffice and turning on a Custom Overlay of the Village Subdivisions. Staff can click on the subdivision and bring up a hyperlink of the folder containing the associated documents and drawings for the subdivision the address falls into. The integration of Northbrook’s GIS data and Laserfiche will provide an invaluable tool for staff members when they need to access information.

Fence Ordinance ComplianceTracking


The Village of Oak Brook has long had ordinances in place to enforce
the type, size, and location of any fences that are constructed within
the Village, specifically residentially zoned areas. Recent discussions
have taken place amongst Village staff and elected officials about
altering the requirements for building new fences within the Village.
In order to get a good handle on what kind, and how many, residential
fences are in the Village, Community Development and Geographic
Information Systems (GIS) staff were assigned the task of locating,
mapping, and summarizing all fences within the Village while dividing
them into 5 categories: Yard Fences, Pool Fences, Pool and Yard Fences,
Court Fences, and Subdivision Perimeter Fences.

The Village requires a permit for all fence construction, which
allowed staff to check records dating back to the 1960’s for any fence
permits that were issued. A potential issue with using this method is
that, because the records date back so far, many of the fences could be
removed due to the demolition and rebuilding of structures over time.
In order to work around this issue, Village staff used GIS to map the
location of all fences, and then confirm the existence of any fence
greater than 10 years old using high resolution aerial imagery captured
in 2012. This method also allowed staff to locate many existing fences
that were not in the permit database. The end result of this research
and analysis can be seen in the image above, which displays the location
and type of all residential fences, as well as a summary of fence
counts in relation to each subdivision within the community.

Without using GIS for this project, Village staff would have spent a
significant amount of time and resources to research, field verify, and
hand map all fences within the Village. Using GIS resulted in a limited
amount of staff hours by using automated processes and aerial imagery, a
cleaner end product, and the creation of a spatial database that can
continue to be built up and analyzed moving forward.

Land Change Analysis


The Village of Oak Brook has ordinances in place to ensure that no
significant change in land use or elevation is done without having to go
through an approval and permit process. Recently there has been a
discrepancy between a resident and their neighbor because of alleged
land change. A resident believes that water accumulation in their
backyard is the result of a neighbor increasing the slope of land where
the two yards meet. As a result of the discrepancy, Village engineers
had to come up with a way to determine whether or not there was a change
in land by reviewing elevation data spanning from 2002 to 2011.

The Village only has 1 foot elevation data that was captured in 2011
and needed a source of similar quality dating back at least 8 years. By
searching through various plat books the engineer was able to locate a
survey that included 1 foot contours, dating back to 2002. In order to
compare the two sets of elevation data, the GIS specialist was able to
scan and trace the elevation data from the plat dating back to 2002.
Once the data was converted into a GIS format, the specialist created a
map displaying both the 2011 and the 2002 elevation data layered over
each other. The engineer was then able to review any significant
changes in elevation that would cause a drainage problem in the
neighboring yard. By using GIS, the Village was able to determine and
display the fact that the elevation between the two yards has not
significantly changed over the past 9 year, and any further
discrepancies would have to be held privately between the two neighbors.