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

GIS performs marijuana mapping for Village of Lincolnwood

Due to recent legal updates and changes regarding medical marijuana laws in the State of Illinois, the Village of Lincolnwood’s Community Development department was looking for a way to be very clear about how these regulations would affect businesses in the community.  They approached the villge’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department to create maps that took into consideration all of the regulations used to regulate location of both dispensaries and cultivation centers.  This was done in an effort to get a better understanding of which areas within the village could be potential sites for these businesses to operate. 

GIS was able to use the existing community zoning and school data, in conjunction with data from the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, to create buffers at the varying distances of restricted zones stated in the law for both dispensaries and cultivation centers.  These buffers were then combined and overlaid with village property line data to highlight lots that could conceivably operate a business based on the current regulations.  These maps allowed village staff to be better prepared to deal with and answer questions from potential applicants, as well as present a very clear image to the village board about what areas within the village have the potential for dispensaries and cultivation centers to operate in the future.

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.

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.

GIS Assists in the Creation of a Disc Golf Map


Almost all communities contain parks and open space, but the vast
majority are managed by a local park district. In Lincolnwood, the Parks
and Recreation department is a village department and not a separate
entity. Lincolnwood Centennial Park recently underwent a huge renovation
which, among other things, included the creation of a nine-hole disc
golf course, better known as Frisbee golf. GIS was consulted to create
an overview map of the course, which would then be mounted on a sign at
start of the course to give players an idea of the locations of each
hole, the length between the start and finish of each hole, and any
possible obstacles that may be encountered along the way, such as trees,
bushes, or even cyclists or pedestrians using bike trails that
crisscross parts of the course.

Being that Lincolnwood Centennial Park is approximately one mile long
and less than 200 feet wide, a one foot by four foot map was produced
for this elongated nine-hole course. The map was created from park plans
and field checks. Once the map was completed, it was sent out to an
outside vendor for mounting in the field. There are also plans in the
future to create nine individual maps, one for each hole. Look for this
overview map to be welcoming players to the first tee box in the very
near future!

GIS Contributes to Current Storm Water Study


The April 18th flooding event hit northern Illinois rather hard, and
the Village of Lincolnwood was no exception. Many flooded basements
resulting from backed up sewers and contributed to many headaches
amongst the village’s residents. An existing storm water study was
already being conducted by the village, so it was decided to gather data
during this historic flooding event to help solidify the importance of
implementing this plan to village officials at the next village board
meeting. The data that was gathered was provided to GIS, where maps were
then created for use during the future storm water study presentation.

The data that was gathered for this study are known as freeboard
measurements. A freeboard measurement is the difference in elevation
between the top of the water level inside a manhole and the actual
elevation of the manhole where it sits at street grade. During the
morning of the flood, Public Works employees went to various locations
around the village, lifted up manholes, and recorded the freeboard
measurement. Some manholes were measured multiple times throughout the
morning and the lowest measurement would be used. Any freeboard
measurement that was four feet or less was considered a sewer failure.
Water can backup into basements and flood streets when it gets into this
range. Areas that contained these ranges seemed to support the existing
storm water study. This helps support the village’s conclusion that
these areas cannot withstand large storms of short durations. Without
using GIS, the data gathered from this flood might not be so clearly
understood on how it relates to the current storm water study and how
the flooding could be improved in the future if the findings from this
study are implemented.

GIS Assists in Locating Potential New Sidewalk Locations


Sidewalks are an important part of any neighborhood, especially one
that is heavily urbanized. Residents need to have a safe option of
getting around locally without always relying on something that has four
wheels. At a recent Village Board meeting, the issue of some local
streets not having sidewalks was brought to the village’s attention. A
study was then requested to locate areas of the village that were
missing sidewalks, and GIS was the tool selected in order to locate
these sidewalk gaps.

For this study, only village owned streets were used. Carriage walks
were considered existing sidewalks and treated as such. Using a variety
of spatial queries based on existing GIS data, locations were found that
contained sidewalk gaps on these local streets. The data was then
broken down into three possible categories; The street could have
sidewalks on both sides, a sidewalk on one side, or no sidewalks on
either side. There also was a pattern of sidewalks existing in front of
one house but not the next. Intermittent sidewalks seemed to be common
throughout much of the community. Finally, the total number of linear
feet of sidewalk gaps was calculated and a map was created for use at
the next Committee of the Whole meeting. By using GIS, tedious and time
consuming work by village staff of going block by block looking for
sidewalk gaps and then calculating the total number of linear feet of
those gaps was avoided.

Visualizing the impact of state legislation on local communities


One convenience of having GIS is the ability to quickly visualize
different scenarios for planning purposes. The Village of Lincolnshire
recently leveraged its GIS data to do just that in response to a bill
under consideration by the Illinois House of Representatives. HB 30, the
Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, would allow
the sale and possession of small amounts of marijuana to people
“diagnosed by a physician as having a debilitating medical condition.”
Should the bill become law, Lincolnshire officials would be faced with
the possibility of medical marijuana organizations renting or purchasing
commercial space within the Village.

In its current form, the bill states that no medical marijuana
organization may be within 2,500 feet of a “public or private preschool
or elementary or secondary school or day care center, day care home,
group day care home, or part day child care facility.” Decision makers
in the Village were interested in the proximity of Lincolnshire’s three
business districts to child care facilities. To determine this, GIS was
used to identify the property lines for all child care facilities and
then measure out 2,500-foot buffer zones in all directions. These were
added to a map of the three business districts, which highlighted areas
where medical cannabis organizations would not be allowed to set up.

Given the controversial nature of this proposal, Lincolnshire’s
decision makers were eager to get extra lead time to discuss how they
would respond. By providing a quick spatial analysis of two disparate
data sets, the Village has an efficient and powerful tool to aid their
discussion and decision making.

GIS Assists in Developing a Tree Inventory


Every community is faced with the task of tracking and maintaining a
complete tree inventory within its municipal boundaries. There are a
variety of reasons that an accurate inventory is important. With the
emerald ash borer causing mass destruction of the ash tree population
within the Chicago area, it is very vital to have a detailed inventory
in order to monitor the spreading of this disease, or any other disease
for that matter, as well as take the necessary steps to prevent the
disease from spreading even further. Keeping track of the variety of
species is also important not only for disease spreading but also for
replanting purposes. Too many of the same species planted too close
together causes disease to spread rapidly. An accurate inventory also
proves beneficial in budget planning and answering individual resident’s
questions regarding trees on a particular property. The Village of
Lincolnwood has had all this information locked up in databases for
years, but it never had an easy way to access this valuable information.
GIS was chosen to be the most efficient solution to address this

The tree data from the databases were tied into their respective
addresses and then entered into GIS. A new custom layer was created and
added to MapOffice Advanced where any community employee can access the
data instantly. All the relevant attribute information is retrieved by
clicking on a tree on the map. Currently, the inventory is updated
through January 2009 with any additions or removals since then being
updated when that data becomes available. Having this at their disposal,
a village employee can access a variety of information just by
searching by an address, rather than sifting through countless rows of a
database looking for a certain tree. The time saved alone makes this a
valued addition to MapOffice Advanced.

GIS Assists in the Surface Transportation Program Grant Application


There is a constant need for road improvements and upgrades
throughout a transportation network. However, there are usually
insufficient funds available for a community to complete most of these
projects. One potential solution to this problem is the Surface
Transportation Program. The Surface Transportation Program provides
federal funding to state departments of transportation. A portion of
this funding is redistributed by IDOT to various Council of Mayors.
Lincolnwood is a member of the North Shore Council of Mayors, which is
currently accepting project requests for 2013 thru 2017. The one
criterion for use of these grants is that the road must be a federally
eligible road. There are two road improvement projects that the village
is applying for that fall under this realm: adding a dedicated left hand
turn lane on Central Avenue at the intersection with Pratt Avenue, and
resurfacing Pratt Avenue from Lockwood Avenue to Crawford Avenue. It was
determined that GIS would be utilized to prepare the necessary maps for
the application process.

Maps were created for both site locations showing the extent and
scope of the project. Regional maps were also created showing the
location of the project in relation to the surrounding geographic area.
These maps will then be used as part of the packet for the grant
application that will be submitted by September 30th. If the grant
application is approved, then the village will only be on the hook for a
fraction of the construction costs rather than having to fund the
project independently if it undertook these same projects without the