Fast Forward to Better Service, Delivery, and Performance!

In October 2015, the city and village managers in the GIS Consortium approved a recommendation made by leaders from their communities, to negotiate with Accela for the purchase of their Customer Relationship Management solution (formerly PublicStuff). Prior to this recommendation, the communities engaged in this project were using a variety of methods to track requests for service. The common challenge was that they were unable to easily share the information with each other or with the public, and this wasted valuable staff time. This is a short explanation of key accomplishments the Citizen Service Request Workgroup made in just 1 years’ time, which is really something to celebrate! 


Negotiating a Win-Win Agreement with Accela 

By the end of January 2016, the communities approached Accela as a group to create a one-of-a-kind agreement. This agreement assists communities with receiving discounts on the annual subscription cost of the software, the cost per integration, the cost for add-on features, and a reduction in the percentage for future price increases. As a result of creating this unique agreementAccela benefits by onboarding many new clients at once, establishing stronger presence in Illinois, and lowering their cost of sales. 


Standards and Governance 

By the end of February 2016, the communities standardized a list of service request types and definitions. The group that spearheaded this effort worked diligently to ensure the standards mirrored what a typical resident would requestSome examples of these include: Fallen Tree Limb, Construction Concern, Graffiti, Tall Grass and Weeds, Street Light Out, and Water Quality Concern.  The solution offers communities the best of both worlds: structure and flexibility with the administration of the system  


8 Communities Launch Initiative in the First Year! 

A short six months into the initiative, four communities have already gone live with the system: Lincolnwood, Downers Grove, Riverside, and Des Plaines!  Elk Grove Village, Mount Prospect, Buffalo Grove, and Norridge are set to launch before the end of 2016Here is what a couple of them have to say since their implementation: 


Doug Petroshius, Assistant Village Manager in Lincolnwood says, “In Lincolnwood the CRM is enhancing communication by providing residents updates on service requests, by making it easy to access the village staff directory, and by receiving priority information from the village through push notifications. The Village of Lincolnwood app has also been well received by the Board members and other community leaders.” 


Megan Miles, Downers Grove Management Analyst says, Our staff found the system easy to learn and use, and that benefits our residents because we have a good tool that allows us to quickly find and relay information to them.” 


Planning for the Future 

Only a year ago, this project collaboration was merely an idea to solve two prevalent pain points: to enhance communication and service to residents, and to provide a more robust, user friendly tool for community staff. The leaders of this GIS Consortium initiative made these outcomes possible and we congratulate all of them for this tremendous accomplishment. The year 2016 produced robust advancementsand we can’t wait to see what 2017 brings!  

Take the Lead 

Discover, innovate, and collaborate with the GIS Consortium today! Contact your community’s GIS Specialist to discuss project opportunities, Consortium services, and GIS.  

If you would like to learn more about this initiative or if you have questions, please contact 


Author: Maria Storm, MGP Client Experience Manager

Publicly Available Tree Inventory


The emergence of the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has become one of the most costly events to affect the Village of Buffalo Grove in recent years. The EAB is an exotic beetle, whose larvae feed on the inner bark of Ash Trees, which prevent the tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Eventually, every Ash Tree needs to be removed in the village. Some residents are requesting to treat the Ash Trees on their property, but the success rate of that treatment is not very high.

One of the common questions residents have is, "Is my tree an Ash tree?" Using the newly available Public Tree Inventory, residents can now view every tree in the village using MapOffice. As you can see in the map above, residents have the ability to view Ash Trees, Other Trees, Removals, and EAB Resident Treatment locations. If the user clicks on any of the trees, a table will appear that explains the last maintenance work that was completed for that tree location, as well as the details of the tree itself. Without the help of GIS, residents would have to rely on their own knowledge of the various tree species to learn about the trees adjacent to their property.


Streetlight Utility Conversion Progress


In the past, the Village of Buffalo Grove’s Public Works department creates and updates the Streetlight Utility Data for completing utility locates using CAD software. Being able to convert this dataset into GIS, allows staff to maintain even more information about each feature. In GIS, detailed attribute information, labels, and easy map creation allow for advanced use and maintenance of the data moving forward.

Currently, all attribute information (including Community ID, Ownership, ect.) has been transferred to the new features in GIS. GIS staffing are working to move the features to the correct location using parcel features to reference where the utilities are located. Once complete, this data will be shared with consultants and all departments within the village to improve the ability to access utility information, as well as plan for future planning and development.

Buffalo Grove Launches Community Portal

Simplicity is extremely important when helping village residents access property information as quickly and efficiently as possible. Community Portal makes property information lookup just that. On the village’s home page, there is now a widget where users can enter the address they seek to lookup information about. Once the search button is clicked, the user is taken to a landing page where they can see all of the information they seek in a text based format. Also, the user can see a ribbon at the top of the page that identifies the address using a map, where they can click a button to view the address in a mapping application if they chose to do so. The simplicity and efficiency of using this page for looking up property information is what makes this tool more advantageous to a user that might prefer not seeing a map view altogether, or wants the fastest way to seek the information to desire.

Find and Go – The Address Range Search Tool


The Find and Go Search Tool in the MapOffice Application is one of
the most useful tools that the program offers. This tool allows the user
to put in a specific address, and after clicking the search icon the
map will then navigate to that specific address. The location where the
map will navigate to is called the Address Pin Point. The Address Pin
Points are based on county information, where they link to their Parcel
Identification Number, which is then linked to a specific address.

A problem that many users make is that they type in the address
incorrectly. By using a Street Address Range for every road, the entire
100 block (ex. 1300-1399) is included. Each street is built in the
database as having a 100 block of every address, with the odd and even
addresses defined as either being to the left or right of the centerline
of the road. If a user spells the street correctly with an incorrect
address that is within a 100 block of an existing address when searching
for an address, the user will be navigated to an estimated location.
The second problem a user may come across is typing the correct street,
but with a different name (Route 83 vs. McHenry Rd). The GIS Specialist
has the ability to list all of the possible alternative names for each
of the streets in the Alias table, which is used to direct the user to
the street name that is used in the address database.

The advanced address search capabilities allow this tool to be the
most commonly used tool by both the community staff and public. The
Public Works Department in Elk Grove Village has a tree inventory that
has all of the residential ash trees that are located for removal, with
each tree having a specific address to help the staff identify it. So
when someone in the forestry department wants to confirm the location of
an ash tree for removal, all they need to do is put in the approximate
address to navigate to the location. The alternative would be to
manually zoom in and navigate to the approximate location based on
memory or another reference. This tool is not only extremely useful, but
also saves a great deal of time and resources for the public and
community staff.

Buffalo Grove joins the GIS Consortium

​We are very pleased to announce our newest GIS Consortium member, the
Village of Buffalo Grove, Illinois. Buffalo Grove becomes the 21st
member of the GIS Consortium and the 7th Lake County community. The
program was kicked off last week and we want to welcome the entire
Village of Buffalo Grove staff to the GIS Consortium.​