GIS Streamlines Asset Management, in the Field and on the Fly

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) is helping mobile workers capture and update information with ease. The public works department in the Village of Glen Ellyn, IL recently purchased Cartegraph OMS, a work order and asset management system. This new web-based system will enhance daily workflow in a number of ways. Now Public Works employees can quickly access inventories for different village assets – such as trees, street signs, and sign supports – and add to or edit them in the field. 

How did GIS assist with the development, quality control, and deployment of these inventories? First, existing GIS inventories were added into the Cartegraph OMS program. Then, users accessed an asset geographically within Cartegraph using the familiar MapOffice™ base map. They can look at it at a desk in the office or on a tablet in the field. In addition to viewing the asset, they can edit information about it add a new asset. 

Let’s say a forester sees a tree and discovers its location and diameter are wrong. Now he or she can correct it in the field using Cartegraph. The forester can also add a new tree based on a physical planting location plus any relevant attributes. Currently, trees, street signs, and sign supports can be edited in Cartegraph. Sewer, water utilities, and streetlights will be added in the next few months.

An employee’s ability to revise and add information right in the field makes a significant difference in asset management. It accelerates and improves the accuracy of inventories and enables data to be updated simultaneously in both Cartegraph and the GIS system. The result is timely information that can be easily accessed for quick fixes to maps and other data analyses.

Using GIS to Delineate Disputed Fire District Boundaries

The Glen Ellyn Volunteer Fire Company provides the fire protection services to the Village of Glen Ellyn, IL as well as its surrounding unincorporated areas. Over the years there has been some dispute and confusion over whose jurisdiction some of the unincorporated parcels actually belong to. This dispute could lead to a potentially life threatening situation if an emergency happens in a disputed area where the dispatch center does not have the correct department information for a property. To assist with resolving some of these jurisdiction issues, the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department was consulted to help with determining the correct jurisdiction that these border parcels belong in.

GIS used a variety of resources in helping to determine the correct jurisdiction for each parcel. Using tax information provided by DuPage County, the borders of the response areas were redrawn to match the taxing body. The county data did have its limitations though. One difficulty with having a volunteer fire department is that residents within the district do not have a fire protection tax on their property tax bill, resulting in the county not being able to confirm that some of these unincorporated areas were in the Glen Ellyn fire district.   To get around this issue, a special service area was created in 2009 for all unincorporated parcels within the Glen Ellyn fire district, so that list was cross-referenced with the county data to provide an accurate picture for the boundary. Once this information was updated in the village GIS data, meetings were held between the Glen Ellyn Fire Company and neighboring fire districts to compare shared borders and work out any other possible indiscretions.

The final GIS data and printed map product were provided to DuPage Public Safety Communications (DU-COMM) where their dispatch system will be updated accordingly. This project helped more than thirty parcels get updated with the correct fire district information, resulting in more reliable fire protection for those properties. Using GIS saved a tremendous amount of time bringing all the taxing resources into one location making it easy to see where changes needed to be made.

GIS Promotes the Village’s Public Art Display

Public art displays are a popular addition to many communities during the summer months. Generally, a particular theme for the overall display is chosen and local artists and businesses craft the artwork that will be publically displayed at select locations throughout the community. For the summer of 2015, the Environmental Commission of the Village of Glen Ellyn, IL presented Bike It!, an outdoor exhibit using bicycles as pieces of art.  To help alert residents of the locations of the bikes, while also showing off the artwork of local residents and businesses, the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department created a story map for display on the village website.

A story map is an interactive map that is viewed online and provides the viewer with the ability to interact with the map elements. When viewing the Bike It! story map, a resident can click on the location of the bike, bring up a picture of the display, and also get information about the artist or artists that created the piece. The resident can also zoom in to a particular bike location by clicking on a picture of the corresponding bike on the bottom ribbon of the map, displaying more information on what other features are around that bike. This provides more information visually than could be gleaned from a traditional, static map product.  Moving forward, this type of interactive story map will be a valuable addition for promoting and providing information for other community events.

Collecting a Sidewalk Trip Hazard Inventory Using Mobile GIS

Sidewalk replacement and maintenance is a routine aspect of every community’s capital improvement plan. Over time, sidewalk squares deteriorate due to a variety of reasons, and communities face the challenge of tracking all locations that may pose a safety hazard to its residents. In the summer of 2014, the Village of Glen Ellyn, IL tried a new method to locate and track these safety hazards, using mobile Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to accomplish this task.

To begin using this technology, the village needed a tablet, or some other type of mobile device, along with the downloaded mobile GIS application.  This GIS application, commonly known as Collector, was installed onto a village tablet.   Using this application, the village staff member would collect the geographic location of a damaged sidewalk square either using the GPS functionality of the device or manually identifying the location of the damaged square.  Once the location is captured, certain attributes about the damage are noted and stored with the location.   The staff member also has the option to add a picture of the damaged square, which was attached to each location along with the attribute information.   These pictures will be used by staff moving forward to determine the severity of the damage once this initial data collection is over. These pictures are critical as only a certain amount of dollars are allocated annually that can be spent fixing or replacing sidewalks.  These pictures will be used to establish which sidewalk locations get repaired during the current budget year and which ones get pushed off to future years.

Having a mobile method of locating and tracking all the damaged sidewalks squares in the field replaces the former method of going to each known or reported damage location, marking locations on a map by hand, and returning to the office to fill out a spreadsheet that contained the master list of replacement areas. The level of ease and the time saved makes this project a blueprint for the village when conducting future asset inventories.

GIS Assists in Planning for Future Village Annexations

Expanding community boundaries to increase population and tax base area is something local governments deal with from time to time.  Recently, the Village of Glen Ellyn, IL began to look at unincorporated areas to the north and south of the village as potential areas to incorporate into the village limits via annexation.  These areas were identified for this as they fall within the Glen Ellyn planning jurisdiction, which gives the village the ability to annex parcels within this area if certain conditions are met. In order to accurately plan for these future annexations, the village Geographic Information System (GIS) department was consulted to produce a series of maps and area calculations to assist the Planning and Development department in preparing for what most likely will be a large addition to the village in the near future.

To assist with these annexation efforts, multiple maps were created showing parcels in these areas that have existing annexation agreements in place with the village, along with the road right of way that would be annexed along with them. Once these areas were visible on the map, Planning and Development staff could better determine which additional parcels would be most beneficial to begin the process of getting annexation agreements setup for future annexations. Statistics were also generated for the amount of acres being annexed and, most importantly, the amount of miles of additional road right of way the village would have to maintain if the annexations occurred.  Using GIS, all information regarding the parcels being considered for annexation was clearly illustrated for department staff and elected officials, providing them with critical resources for making the appropriate decisions regarding village expansion.

GIS Assists in Determining Potential Locations for Medical Marijuana Facilities

The state of Illinois recently enacted a law that legalizes medical marijuana. This highly controversial law has forced communities around the state to scramble to determine where potential areas are located where it’s permissible for an individual to open a dispensary or a cultivation center. State law requires that a cultivation center cannot be located within 2500 feet of a school, daycare center, or any residential zoned property. A dispensary cannot be located within 1000 feet of a school or a daycare center, or within a residential zoned property. In order to determine these locations, the Village of Glen Ellyn utilized its Geographic Information System (GIS) to determine where permissible areas for these locations might be allowed in the city under the new law.

Using multiple tools provided by the GIS software, a number of maps were created for this project. The first map showed potential locations for the creation of cultivation centers.  Due to the law’s heavy restrictions on cultivation centers, the entire village is a restricted area for this type of development, which was easy shown by the final map product.  The second map showed potential locations for the creation of dispensaries.  Since the dispensary restrictions are not as limiting as the cultivation center restrictions, this map displayed a number of locations around the village that were permissible for this type of development under the law. Taking that into account, individual maps for areas within the proper commercial zoning district that were permissible for a dispensary were created to highlight each possible location. This was done not only to show the affected areas in greater detail but also to show how these restrictions could potentially divide parcels between being permissible or not permissible for development.  Currently, if part of the parcel is restricted, the entire parcel is restricted, even the portion outside the 1000 foot buffer.  

A custom overlay was added to the village’s web mapping application, MapOffice™, which displays all the prohibited areas and is available for use by all village departments.  This allows for staff to quickly search for an address to see whether or not it is a potential dispensary location.   Having all this information available in an easy-to-use, spatial application can assist in potential dispensary permit planning down the road.

Interactive Mapping Available in Glen Ellyn


After joining the GIS Consortium in May 2013, a primary goal of the
Village of Glen Ellyn, IL was to provide their residents with an online
solution for increasing local government transparency. Based on a
combination of existing information and a quickly implemented data
development initiative, the village was able to rapidly and successfully
deploy the GIS Consortium’s interactive mapping application, MapOffice
™, on their community website. MapOffice ™ allows users to view
information related to properties, which includes zoning, voting,
assessed property value, and services provided by the Village in an easy
and intuitive way.

MapOffice ™ provides a resource to residents that can be accessed
easily by visiting the Village website ( It
also increases transparency between local government and its residents,
leading to increased staff efficiency as community departments are now
spending less time answering calls from the public and more time on
their daily workflows.

Glen Ellyn joins the GIS Consortium

​We are excited to announce the newest member of the GIS Consortium, the
Village of Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  Glen Ellyn becomes the 23rd member of
the GIS Consortium and the fourth member to join this year! The
Consortium and MGP are looking forward to the beginning of another
successful partnership.​