Private Community Sign Ordinance Support

Enforcing a sign ordinance in a community can be taxing for any local government, but with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a single staff member can implement a policy for an entire municipality. The Village of Lincolnshire, IL recently began reviewing and classifying signs in the village as “compliant” or “non-compliant”, which allows them to be tracked and symbolized in a map environment so the status is easily viewed. 

A sign ordinance in a community promotes public health, safety, and welfare while also establishing aesthetics that distinguish it from other communities. Sign ordinances benefit the private sector and help them be more successful by ensuring their messages are clearly communicated to the public. 

The Village adopted these principles in their sign ordinance. In the image below, dots represent the exact location of signs in question, and are symbolized by their compliancy status. GIS built on past work by the village and integrated new information, such as their compliancy status.   Within the village’s interactive, browser-based map application, MapOffice™, each sign is represented by a dot, with the option to navigate the user to a Microsoft® Word document that tracks every private sign in the village. Whether to check compliance or update information, this efficient practice can be applied to many other environmental or zoning ordinances, thereby making the process of checking the status of these items easier for village staff to accomplish. 

GIS Assists in Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Planning


The Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act has outlined where medical marijuana dispensaries and cultivation centers cannot be located. Yet the burden is left up to the communities on where these facilities are to be located. The Pilot Program requires a cultivation center cannot be located within 2,500 feet of a school, daycare facility or within a residentially zoned area.  A dispensary cannot be located within 1000 feet of a school, daycare facility or within a residentially zoned area. Utilizing GIS, the Village of Lincolnshire was able to determine what areas of the Village were restricted by applying a 1,000 foot and 2,500 foot buffer around the daycare facilities.

The analysis provided a clear picture that a cultivation center cannot exist within the Village, but a number of areas within the Village could develop a dispensary. The 1,000 foot buffer had little impact on the main commercial district of the Village. Once this analysis was given to the Zoning Board they concluded a dispensary could only be located in the main commercial district (O/Id).  Displaying which parcels were vacant or available in that commercial district would present exactly which properties could be developed into a medical marijuana dispensary. GIS allows a community to confidently and efficiently plan for one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country, and recognize they are entirely within the law.

Supporting Economic Growth with GIS

 The Department of Economic Development requested resources they could hand out to potential clients in a recruitment effort to bring new businesses to Lincolnshire.  The end product would be a simple document that could call out areas of Lincolnshire that would benefit from economic growth.  The GIS Department created a document that showcased development sites, available for purchase, overlayed with aerial imagery that accurately represents the landscape.  This allowed potential candidates to see right off the bat if the available space was suitable for development or if the terrain fit their needs.  The map document also called out traffic counts for neighboring roads and business logos for clients that have already set up shop in Lincolnshire.  This allows potential businesses to evaluate if competitors are in the area and if their services fit the local economy and area.


With GIS, Lincolnshire is able to create effective resources that will give them a leg up over competing municipalities who are also looking to attracted new business.

Integrating a tree inventory into GIS to streamline daily workflows


In 2013, the Village of Lincolnshire, IL hired The Davey Tree Expert
Company to collect an inventory of all Village-owned trees. This
inventory included trees not only in public rights-of-way, but also in
all nine public parks managed by the Public Works Department. When
completed, the Geographic Information System (GIS)-compatible database
held a total of 6,180 trees, stumps, and planting locations, all with
varying maintenance needs. Since the end product was GIS-compatible,
the on-site specialist was able to generate a number of products quickly
that support the daily workflows of both the Village arborist and the
Village Parks manager.

The biggest impact on daily workflow was the addition of custom
layers for display in the village’s interactive, browser-based mapping
application, MapOffice™ Advanced. Working with the Village arborist, the
GIS specialist created two layers: one that shows all Village-owned
trees, and one that highlights ash trees by their surveyed condition.
The arborist uses these layers daily in place of making multiple field
checks to confirm existing conditions. The ash tree layer also assists
the arborist in prioritizing the removal of trees that have become
hazards as a result of damage from the emerald ash borer.

While Davey Tree offers a software package for managing its tree
inventories, Lincolnshire made the decision to manage its inventory with
the GIS software it already owned. Not only does this save money on
additional product licenses, but it also shifts the workload of data
maintenance from part-time employees to the GIS specialist with
expertise in data management. Instead of maintaining a separate
database, Village staff reports updates to the specialist, who manages
the data as a normal part of the GIS program’s workflow.

Celebrating National Night Out in style


Now in its 30th year, National Night Out is a widespread event
designed to promote crime-prevention efforts and neighborhood
cohesiveness. Lincolnshire is one of more than 15,000 communities that
participate in the event, hosting a public open house at North Park on
an annual basis. As the event has grown to include more exhibitors and
activities, the Police Department thought it would be nice to have a map
of the grounds for public reference. GIS was perfectly suited to
provide this for them quickly, using up-to-date aerial photography and
existing data as a base.

While this project can be completed using a number of different
software products, Lincolnshire does not need to invest in these
products. GIS has a number of graphic-design features that can be used
to create attractive, professional looking displays without going to the
extra effort of contracting out the work. This saved the community both
time and money, and created an easy-to-use map of the event that can be
updated and reused for years to come.

For more information about National Night Out, visit or the Village of Lincolnshire’s website at

Flood Response and the Value of GIS in Decision Making


On April 18, 2013, a series of severe thunderstorms resulted in a
significant flood event for much of Chicagoland. Thirty-eight counties
were declared disaster areas by the state because of the significant
damage that occurred. Communities along the Des Plaines River, including
Lincolnshire, were hard-hit by rapidly rising water that took more than
one week to recede back to normal levels. The Village activated its
Emergency Operations Center that morning to organize its response.

GIS played an important role throughout this event. First, resident
calls and field crew observations were mapped with different symbols to
represent the flood-related problem so that incident command could
visualize where the hot spots were. This map was posted in the Emergency
Operations Center as well as updated in real time through a custom
overlay in MapOffice™ Advanced. This constant flow of data supported
decision making so that response crews and resources were used wisely
and efficiently.

Once the river crested, GIS was used to visualize the extent of the
flooding. Using existing contour line data, the on-site specialist
estimated the path of the high-water line along the Des Plaines River.
This area was used to generate a list of affected addresses, which a
Village inspector used as a basis for collecting damage reports. This
data will also be provided to Lake County to support its request for
federal support. In the future, if the Village faces a similar flood
event, the high-water line can be reused to estimate the impact before
it actually happens and take steps to protect property and people before
the water rushes in.

GIS supports a holistic approach to infrastructure management


All municipal governments face the challenge of how to prioritize
infrastructure maintenance work. Everything from road repairs to sewer
lining to water main upgrades have to be itemized in the annual budget,
and as such tend to be managed as unrelated projects. Unfortunately,
this method can result in inefficient project planning because a
particular component might be repaired in one year, only to be dug up
again the next year to complete a different project.

GIS is well-suited to assist local governments with this challenge,
as the Village of Lincolnshire can illustrate. First, the Village paid
outside contractors to collect data on its road infrastructure and a
portion of its sanitary sewer. Next, it used GIS to conduct an in-house
analysis of the spatial distribution of water main breaks. Finally, GIS
was used to combine all of the findings to pinpoint locations where
multiple problems are occurring. Some clear patterns emerged, which made
it easy for the Village engineers to prioritize their project plans for
the coming year.

This analysis led to a larger discussion with the Village board about
infrastructure management. Using maps and statistics, Village staff
members were able to demonstrate to the trustees how the road and
sanitary surveys augmented their decision-making abilities. Further, the
presentation justified the planned studies on storm water retention and
more of the sanitary system. Once all of the studies are completed, GIS
will be used to aggregate the data and look for spatial patterns
throughout the Village. The findings allow for a holistic approach to
infrastructure management, avoiding needless waste of time and resources
in areas that have multiple issues to address.

Using GIS in Emergency Scenarios


​In October, the Village of Lincolnshire staff held a table-top
discussion on its emergency management plan. To test how well everyone
knew local procedures as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of the
existing plan, selected supervisors were given a practice scenario and
had to explain how they would respond. GIS was enlisted to assist with
this by creating a map showing the extent of the damage from a
hypothetical tornado strike. On the day of the drill, the supervisors
received a copy of the map and discussed the challenges that this
situation would present to the various responding departments. 

was also asked to briefly present on how this technology could be used
to support response and recovery operations for the Village. As a member
of the GIS Consortium, Lincolnshire has access to a 24-hour hotline
number to request GIS support on an emergency basis. When an after-hours
issue arises, a GIS specialist can be paged to come on site and help
with information collecting, tracking, and sharing. Having a central
source of information will allow the various departments to communicate
more effectively in the hours and days after the disaster; maps can be
quickly generated and distributed to share findings from different
sources as they come in. Additionally, as internet access becomes
available, GIS can be used to provide information to the public about
the recovery efforts, the location of resources such as food, water, and
shelter, and other critical spatial information that would help those
affected by the emergency.

GIS used to encourage biking and walking in Lincolnshire


Lincolnshire is a picturesque village in Lake County, well known for
its mature trees, numerous parks, and attractively landscaped open
spaces. One of the best ways to enjoy the scenery is to walk or bike
around town using the wide local streets and recreational paths that
connect them. To encourage non-motorized traffic in the Village, GIS was
asked to update the hiking and biking trail map to highlight existing
routes as well as key points of interest. In addition to showcasing area
parks and retail shopping, visitors to Lincolnshire can also quickly
identify free parking and public drinking fountain locations. Local
schools are also marked so that parents can identify safe routes for
their children to use.

The end product is provided to the public in two formats, print
and interactive. The printable version is an 11-by-17 inch map that
visitors and residents can print out and keep as a general reference.
Anyone looking for greater detail can access the interactive version
online to determine precise locations of particular attractions or the
proximity of their homes to existing facilities. Both products can be
viewed on the Village’s website at

Lincolnshire gets a fresh look and new GIS functionality on its website


​The Village of Lincolnshire recently unveiled its newly redesigned
website with improved organization of information. New features include a
bolder color scheme, a citizen support center, and a revamped Village
Maps page. One of the key improvements to the maps page was the addition
of “My Lincolnshire Property Search,” an easy-to-use property search
tool that improves accessibility to MapOffice™ Public. Rather than going
directly to the MapOffice™ interface, residents can simply type their
address into a text search box. The search function opens a new window
that zooms to the property and provides a summary of relevant
information to that location. My Lincolnshire Property Search takes away
the “intimidation factor” for novice computer users by bypassing the
map interface and offering an easy-to-understand interface as an

In the future, Lincolnshire envisions using the Village Maps page as a
central location for a variety of maps that are designed for use by the
public. Additions will include maps of recreational trails, school
district boundaries, and more.