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 Assists in Reporting Street Light Outages

Street light outages are among the most common calls made to the Village of Norridge by residents.  Many times these calls, which can occur up to 20 times in one day, are repeats from different residents reporting the same street light outage.  The village decided that it needed a better system of tracking and responding back to resident calls in order to reduce this redundancy in outage tracking and free up village staff time spent documenting and responding to each call. To accomplish this goal, the village Administration asked the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department to develop a method for tracking and displaying these outages spatially on the village website. 

By leveraging the power and simplicity of user friendly templates in ESRI’s ArcMap and the village’s browser based mapping application, MapOffice™, the village is now able to track street light outage locations spatially and relay that information to residents on a daily basis. The street light outage information is also available to all staff in the village, which allows for resident inquires to be answered quickly no matter who receives the call.  Having reported street light outage locations available to all staff is important because it prevents multiple work orders from being generated for the same location, thereby eliminating duplication of work and a creating a more efficient allocation of field crew resources.

GIS Provides the Foundation for New Dispatch System

​The Village of Norridge, IL has recently invested in modernizing their village Computer Aided Dispatch System (CAD). Part of this modernization was building the foundation of the new CAD upon data that is created, updated and managed by the village Geographic Information Systems (GIS) program.  This data includes residential and commercial addresses and address ranges to allow for vehicle routing to calls made from homes or from cell phones throughout the village.  Important information such as fire hydrant locations, building characteristics, and building entry points were also built in GIS to allow first responders a chance to create an operational plan prior to arriving at the scene of an emergency.

Arriving on scene with a plan allows for quick action in a situation where minutes can be critical to the outcome of an emergency. GIS also can help track data that will allow the village map and report on reoccurring incidents in the village, such as auto accidents or burglaries.  Having a GIS program helped to save the village tens of thousands of dollars in data implementation costs for the CAD system, as well as provide local authoritative data and more robust product for emergency responders.

Water System Operator Magazine Recognizes Quality Leaders in the Village of Norridge

​Water System Operator Magazine recently published an article on the Village of Norridge, showing its success with technology improvements and service.  It reviews the work of Doug Strempek, the IT and GIS Coordinator for the Village, in the updating of core technologies and services. Read the full article at Water Systems Operator.  Congratulations Doug!

GIS helps hidden treasures find a new home


The village of Norridge approves numerous garage sales every year.
Along with permitting the garage sales, the village also receives a
great deal of calls pertaining to the location, date and times of garage
sales. Using MapOffice™, the village’s online Geographic Information
System (GIS) map viewer, village staff is able to easily manage and
disseminate information to the public about past, present and future
garage sale locations.

Through the use of automated scripting, village staff is able to
update the GIS information on the public website without needing a GIS
specialist and without changing the daily work processes. The process,
for staff, is as easy as choosing an address from a drop list in a
Microsoft Excel spread sheet staff is currently using to log the garage
sales. At the end of the day, automated computer scripting takes over.
The automated process maps the garage sale information and displays the
layers and associated information on the web using MapOffice™. The
automated process is essential for this mapping application because a
GIS specialist may not always available to manually update the data,
which is updated daily.

This automated mapping process, along with the spatial medium
provided by MapOffice™, gives the power of displaying important
information to all village staff, where previously the responsibility
relied on one individual.

Remote Water Meter Missed Reading Custom Overlay

​In 2001, the Village of Norridge switched from manual water meter
readers to an automatic meter reading system that sends usage
information through a secure, long range wireless network. Each meter
has a module called a Meter Transmission Unit (MTU) that reads each
water meter and forwards the meter usage data to the Data Collector
Units (DCU). The DCUs receive, process, and store all the information
from the MTUs, then forward the information to a Network Control
Computer at Village Hall. This allows the Village staff to run reports
and create water bills using the information gathered. Eventually, the
MTUs have to be replaced and one of the indicators is if the unit had
not read for prolonged period of time. The Village of Norridge wanted a
way to map out which MTU units had not read for a period longer than
five days, so that they could start to keep an eye on them to see if
they would eventually re-sync, or would have to be replaced.

A link was created between the water meter database and the database
used for the Village’s in-house mapping software, MapOffice™ Advanced.
This link allows the mapping software to display data from the water
meter system in real time, removing the need to clean up and post the
data each time there is an update. Because the data is shown in real
time, the water department can use MapOffice™ Advanced to see what
meters have not read in the past five days, which allows them to make
decisions on replacing the meters. By seeing the locations on the map,
the can see if there are any patterns to the outages. By using GIS, the
water department is able to monitor MTU readings to make sure they are
all working correctly.

JULIE Boundary Update


Joint Utility Locating Information for Excavators (JULIE) is a
not-for-profit corporation that provides homeowners and professional
excavators with one place to call for safe digging. JULIE serves as a
message handling notification service for underground facility owners,
taking information about planned excavations and distributing this
information to its membership. It is then the responsibility of each
facility owner to mark the location of their underground facilities at
the excavation site. In Norridge, this means that every time JULIE
receives a call, the Public Works department has to go out and do all
the locating. JULIE bases the calls (and the facility owner) off of a
series of boundaries that are based off of Township Quarter sections.
If an underground facility is just barely within a quarter section
boundary, the facility owner receives a phone call every time utilities
need to be located within that quarter section, even if the location is
not near the owned facilities. JULIE allows communities and other
facility owners to submit their own boundaries to reduce the amount of
calls each facility owner receives.

To create a new JULIE boundary, the GIS department took all the
village utility data and created a 300 FT buffer around the utility
dataset and the village boundary. This made sure that all the utility
information within the village boundaries was included, and allowed for
any unaccounted utility information just outside the village limits.
The new boundary was then approved by both the Engineering and Public
Works Departments, and then uploaded onto the JULIE website. It was
then approved by JULIE and implemented into their call system. Now,
whenever the Public Works department gets a call to locate utilities,
they know that the location will be within or very close to their

GIS and Earth day in Norridge


In April 2012, the Village of Norridge decided, in honor of Earth
Day, to hold a village wide clean up of all village parkways. The idea
was for residents to volunteer their time and pick up trash and garbage
along roads in the village and then drop it off at designated locations.
The Public Works department would then pick up all the trash left at
each drop off. The Village asked the GIS department to put together a
series of maps to inform the residents where they could drop off any
trash they collected.

All of the volunteers were given a map book to be referenced in the
clean up process. The map book consisted of the village streets broken
down into specific zones, allowing the volunteers to work in sections
rather than just wandering each street at their leisure. This would
ensure that all sections of the village were cleaned. Then each
previously designated drop off point was added to the maps so that the
volunteers could see where they had to drop off the trash collected in
their specific zone. By using GIS, the Village was able to provide
better information for their volunteers.

Reverse 911 system support


The Village of Norridge has a reverse 911 system called Blackboard
Connect. The system sends out messages to residents registered in the
system about events happening in the village. Registration is optional
and the village is trying to persuade residents to complete applications
to join the service. To find out which residents are not registered,
the Village is using its in-house GIS mapping program, MapOffice™
Advanced to find the addresses of people who do not receive a phone

When the Village of Norridge sends out a call, the village
receives a report of the addresses that received the call. By using
MapOffice™ Advanced, village staff is able to map out those locations,
which then allows them to see what addresses are not returning calls.
These addresses are then sent letters urging them to register for the
system. On average, about a quarter of the residents receiving letters
end up signing up for the program. This benefits the Village and the
residents because in the event of an emergency, the Village can send out
timely notifications to as many residents as possible.

GIS supporting the 2012 paving program


Every year, the Village of Norridge has a set amount of money, based
on different sources, which they can use for repaving streets. For
2012, the Village has determined a list of what streets they would like
to pave with the option to modify the list based on actual costs. The
list was based off of a variety of factors such as age, pavement
condition, and location. The Village of Norridge used maps created by
the GIS department to help with their decision.

In the past, the GIS department has created a series of maps
showing which streets in the Village have been paved, and in which year.
The map has each year, from 1993 onward, as a different color
highlight. This allows any user to quickly determine when a street was
last paved. By using this map, in conjunction with field checks, the
Village was able to determine a list of the ideal streets to repave. A
new map was created showing the previously paved streets, as well as the
proposed streets for 2012. This map allows the village board to see
what is planned and if any changes need to be made. By using GIS, the
Village of Norridge was able to visualize pavement projects from the
past and use it to help determine future pavement projects.