Open Field Available Parking

The Village of Oak Brook, IL often holds events that exceed the limits of conventional parking lots, forcing them to find parking in alternate locations.  Recently the Oak Brook Park District was holding an event where the expected crowd was projected to exceed the amount of available parking within their lots, which would result in staff needing to direct people to park on soccer fields located north of their main buildings.  Park District staff worked with the Police department to determine how to direct traffic and what the maximum capacity of the soccer fields would be.  In an effort to provide an accurate determination of not only how much available parking there was, but also what a good lot configuration would be, the Police department requested help from the Geographic Information System (GIS) department to analyze and map available parking within the open soccer fields.

Using aerial imagery, property lines, and elevation data, the GIS staff first determined the boundaries available for parking, to insure they stayed on Park District property and to make sure the parking was not on too steep of an incline.  Next, a standard size parking space was created and duplicated across the available parking area, leaving room for consistent driving lanes and entrance/exit locations.  Finally, a total count of parking spaces was calculated from the data, with the bi-product being a map displaying the location of the parking lot and its spaces, entrance and exits, and the lot’s location relative to the Park District property lines. 

By using GIS, the police department received not only an accurate parking space count, but also a map that can be used for coordinating and promoting the parking process.  Using GIS also allowed this process to be completed in the matter of a couple of hours and in a far more accurate format that walking off parking space dimensions and distances in the field.

Tree Asset Ownership Analysis

Throughout the course of the year the Village of Oak Brook, IL receives questions from residents concerning private tree ownership, typically to determine responsibility for maintenance.  Often times these questions can be resolved by a trip to the field by village staff, by referencing building surveys which include tree planting plans, or by utilizing aerial imagery with property lines to see which property the stem of the tree is located on.  If these options don’t yield an acceptable answer to the question, a surveyor needs to be called in to mark property boundaries to determine which property a tree is located.  In an effort to avoid calling in a surveyor for a dead tree removal dispute involving four village properties, village engineers requested that Geographic Information System (GIS) staff use available Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) data to determine the location of a tree centroid to help pinpoint exactly who owns the tree.

GIS staff first determined the general location of the tree, under the direction of the village engineer, using aerial imagery.  After the location within the village was determined, LiDAR bare earth elevation points for that area, which represent solid ground around vegetation, buildings, water, etc, were loaded into the GIS software.  Once the bare earth points were loaded for the area in dispute a location in middle of the bare earth point cluster with no data was discovered, representing the canopy of the tree in dispute.  As shown in the associated image, a centroid was then placed in the middle of the approximate tree canopy indicated by the LiDAR point cloud, representing the trunk location, which allowed village engineers to see which property the trunk of tree landed on.  Without GIS, the resolution to this issue would have involved contacting a surveyor to come out, measure each property, and determine ownership.  This process would have taken longer and cost significantly more than the process that was used, which involved leveraging the existing GIS information.

Fire Inspection Reporting

The Village of Oak Brook, IL routinely inspects commercial properties to insure each building is compliant with local, regional and federal fire safety standards.  This is a standard practice across all municipal and regional fire agencies, performed by fire prevention bureaus and often tracked in paper or digital format.  Oak Brook’s fire department has been using software called Firehouse™ to track the type, location, frequency, and findings of all inspections done throughout the Village.  This information is regularly accessed and reviewed by administrative personnel, but can sometimes provide too much information or be overly complex to access and consolidate into a consumable format.  In order to have a quick reference summary for the previous month’s inspections, the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department was asked to map all inspections and categorize them by the type of inspection that took place.

In order to not duplicate work being done within the Firehouse™ software, the GIS department decided to setup a live connection to the table within Firehouse™ that is tracking inspection information.  This type of live connection allowed the fire department to continue tracking inspections as they always have within Firehouse™, but also provides an automated process that allows staff to map each inspection location and access its pertinent information through the village’s web mapping application, MapOffice™.  The process for retrieving and displaying this information in MapOffice™ allows for weekly, monthly, and annual summaries of the data to be easily generated by staff without having to duplicate any data entry or change their daily inspection tracking process.  By integrating GIS with their already existing operations, administrative personnel now has a tool that summarizes all the information they’re looking for in and easy to use, visual format.

Salt Distribution and Conservation Mapping

​This year’s extremely cold and snowy winter has left the vast majority of municipalities in the Chicago area with a shortage of salt, including the Village of Oak Brook.  In an effort to preserve salt supplies, Village staff was asked to come up with a salt conservation plan that would stretch their current supply as long as possible.  Many communities in the area had it worse and were forced to not salt any residential streets or were forced to use a sand/salt mixture which can have an adverse effect on surround ecosystem.  It was determined that Oak Brook had enough supply left to salt busy and trouble areas, but not enough to salt long stretches of residential subdivisions.  Based on this initial assessment, the next step was to identify the trouble areas that need to have salt and inform the snow plow drivers where they should and should not salt during and after a winter weather event.

It was determined by public works staff that the best approach to this issue was to work with the Geographic Information System (GIS) department to identify and map all intersections, steep hills, and heavily traveled roads.  As shown in the above image, areas that need to be salted are clearly highlighted in red for drivers to use as a guide while plowing during future storm events.  Using these maps as a guide, this conservation initiative allowed for the Village plow drivers to spread approximately half the salt as they normally would in a typical snow event. 

By using GIS to display this information, the Village not only provided their drivers, administration and emergency services with a clear image of what areas are being salted, but actually conserved salt and developed a plan that can be easily implemented in similar situations in the future.

Using GIS to Assist with Home Sales Analysis

The Village of Oak Brook is currently directing an initiative for residential enhancements to help improve home values, fill vacancies, and attract new families to the Village.  In order to do so, they have created a committee seated by both Village employees and residents, as well as hiring a consultant to formulate and analyze a survey filled out by residents.  In addition to these two initiatives, the Village wanted to analyze sales over the past five years in an effort to discover trends pertaining to location, time, cost, and size of recent residential home and property sales.  This information, in combination with the survey and community input, is going to help steer the Village in the direction of improving its already renowned reputation as a leading community in DuPage County for families to reside in.

In order to perform the home sales analysis, a list of all home/property sales over the past five years was requested from the County Recorder’s office.  Once the list was acquired, Geographic Information System (GIS) staff was able to map out and match all home sales to the existing address data within the Village.  Once everything was in the system, the GIS staff was able to cross reference the data with other GIS information, such as subdivisions, property boundaries (to determine size), and zoning (single or multi-family).  This allowed for the easy creation of multiple themed maps and statistical spreadsheets.  In addition to this analysis, GIS staff was able to create over a dozen maps which display the density of home sale dispersal across the village based off of a given category from the data.  The above image displays the density of sales from 2009 to 2013 that were between 1 and 2 acres of land.  This map, along with the dozens of other maps and statistical spreadsheets, are serving as an instrumental role for decision makers in the Village to be more information as they plan for the future.

Fence Ordinance ComplianceTracking


The Village of Oak Brook has long had ordinances in place to enforce
the type, size, and location of any fences that are constructed within
the Village, specifically residentially zoned areas. Recent discussions
have taken place amongst Village staff and elected officials about
altering the requirements for building new fences within the Village.
In order to get a good handle on what kind, and how many, residential
fences are in the Village, Community Development and Geographic
Information Systems (GIS) staff were assigned the task of locating,
mapping, and summarizing all fences within the Village while dividing
them into 5 categories: Yard Fences, Pool Fences, Pool and Yard Fences,
Court Fences, and Subdivision Perimeter Fences.

The Village requires a permit for all fence construction, which
allowed staff to check records dating back to the 1960’s for any fence
permits that were issued. A potential issue with using this method is
that, because the records date back so far, many of the fences could be
removed due to the demolition and rebuilding of structures over time.
In order to work around this issue, Village staff used GIS to map the
location of all fences, and then confirm the existence of any fence
greater than 10 years old using high resolution aerial imagery captured
in 2012. This method also allowed staff to locate many existing fences
that were not in the permit database. The end result of this research
and analysis can be seen in the image above, which displays the location
and type of all residential fences, as well as a summary of fence
counts in relation to each subdivision within the community.

Without using GIS for this project, Village staff would have spent a
significant amount of time and resources to research, field verify, and
hand map all fences within the Village. Using GIS resulted in a limited
amount of staff hours by using automated processes and aerial imagery, a
cleaner end product, and the creation of a spatial database that can
continue to be built up and analyzed moving forward.

Service valve image linking


The Village of Oak Brook has put forth a lot of time and effort over
the past few years to get its entire water system accurately mapped
through the GIS Consortium’s MapOffice™ web application. Along with the
many planning and financial incentives that come with an accurately
mapped utility infrastructure, it provides unprecedented value to the
water crews having to maintain, upgrade and repair the water system.
Previously, water crews from public works had to reference out of date,
inaccurate, hand drawn maps that did not provide specific enough
information about not only location, but also the attributes that
coincide with each water structure. But over the past few years the
public works and GIS departments have worked side by side to accurately
map where all structures along the water system are located, and which
attributes each structure posses (e.g. diameter, material, installation
date, etc.). By using field notes and as-built drawing, Village staff
is confident in the overall condition and accuracy of the main water
system structures at this point in time. The next step to inventorying
the water system is to identify and note all hidden or hard to reach
structures, beginning with service valves and valve vaults.

The idea behind this portion of our water system mapping program is
to locate and take pictures of the hidden, buried, and hard to reach
structures. Seeing that we’ve already put so much effort it mapping
where the structures are generally located, it seemed fitting to link
the images of each structure to its point in MapOffice™. The end goal
of this project is to allow field crews to pull up a certain area of the
water system in MapOffice™ while in the field, reference the structure
and its attributes, and then view an image of the structure by simply
clicking on the point on the map. The attached image is an example of
what public works staff are able to view from their vehicles while doing
repairs at the actual location of the structure. Without GIS the
amount of time, effort, and money that is continuously put into these
hard to reach and problem areas would persist in an inefficient manner.
But by tracking all of this information in GIS, field crews are able
provide our customers a quicker and higher level of service, all while
saving time and ultimately money.

Police analysis using cell tower triangulation


The Village of Oak Brook’s Police Department recently closed a case
involving an armed robbery at a local McDonald’s and requested the
assistance of GIS to help display some of the evidence used to convict
the suspects. Following the incident the Police Department was able to
identify and arrest 3 suspects in the robbery. In an effort to build
the best possible case, Oak Brook Detectives acquired the cell phone
records of one of the perpetrators in an effort to pinpoint him in the
area of the robbery, at the time in which it occurred. The actual phone
records were a key piece of evidence because they were able to identify
usage of the suspect’s cell phone within about a quarter mile of the
McDonald’s, both before and after the robbery took place, even though
the suspect is not from the immediate area. But the Detective wanted
more than just a spreadsheet with addresses and call times proving the
suspect was in the area, he wanted a map displaying the location of the
cell towers, the time of the phone calls, and the direction from which
the calls were made.

Using the cell phone usage information provided by the detective, the
GIS staff was able to locate and map the location of all the cell
towers the suspect used during a period of time before and after the
robbery. The next step was to use the azimuth sectors pertaining to
each call made to determine the direction in which the call was coming
from. As shown in the image, the McDonald’s that was robbed is located
almost exactly in between the two cell towers used by the suspect’s cell
phone. Additionally, the map displays that the suspect was indeed
using their cell phone near the McDonald’s both before and after the
robbery occurred. To coincide with the map displayed with this article,
a second map was produced showing the cell towers that were used while
the suspect was on their way to the Village, as well as departing to
their final destination. These maps and phone records, along with other
pieces evidence obtained by the detective were ultimately used to
convict the three suspects of armed robbery. Without using GIS to
display the information, the jury would have relied on non-graphic
spreadsheets displaying the cell phone information, which doesn’t
provide the direction in which the calls were made along with the
overall perspective of the night’s incident.

Water Detention Analysis using GIS


The Village of Oak Brook and the local Butler School District have
been diligently working over the past few months to determine the
feasibility of adding a new school on Oak Brook Sports Core property.
In order to determine whether or not it would be possible, there was a
considerable amount of analysis pertaining to the amount of available
property, ease of access, available detention, and determining the
general layout of the actual school grounds. The majority of the
preliminary analysis was done in house between Village Engineers and GIS
staff in order to keep cost down before entering the actual planning
phase. As a result there were multitudes of general site layout maps
generated. But as the planning process moved further along, the
required maps and statistics became more advanced because the property
was determined feasible for development. One of the final phases of
analysis that was done internally, prior to the hiring of an
architecture company, was the determination of required detention for
new development.

At this point in the project a general site plan had been proposed,
which included the calculation for approximate impervious surface area.
By taking the calculation of impervious surface area, Village Engineers
and GIS staff were able to determine the amount of detention area that
will be required for new development, based off of the elevation
statistics from an already existing detention area. Once the
approximate required detention area was determined, the GIS specialist
was able to use lidar elevation data to determine an already existing
area, which would require the minimum amount of earth being moved to
support the required detention. As shown in the image, the blue area is
the required detention area, which is surrounded by a red line
representing the total amount of area including the surrounding
retention burm. By using GIS we were able to complete this analysis in
less than two hours at the cost of day to day staffing. Had a
consultant been used, it would have required them to spend extended time
in the field, which would then require additional time to process the
data and development maps and statistics.

Vacant and Rental Property Tracking


During the recent housing market collapse the Village of Oak Brook,
like many municipalities, has been faced with a rising number of
available properties within their corporate limit. One of the main
goals for the Village is to attract and maintain tenants in both
commercial and residential areas in an effort to generate revenue and
promote Oak Brook as a place of success. This means tracking vacant and
rental opportunities throughout the Village so that they can not only
be promoted to potential buyers, but also to make sure proper
maintenance and security measures are being taken. Because there is no
easy way of maintaining the status of these properties, the Village has
taken up the task to track vacant and rental properties to the best of
their knowledge through sources such as water billing, inspections, and
various other property records. Although the Village had previously
been tracking all of the information through a spreadsheet, Village
Trustee’s asked that maps be created in order to give better visual
representation of the available properties.

Although there was not a wealth of information tied to each property,
it’s considered very important just to know the location of all
available properties, as well as contact and owner information. By
geocoding the existing spreadsheet the GIS specialist was able to
quickly produce a map and custom overlay in MapOffice™ Advanced. This
allows Village Staff and Trustees to have valid sources of information
available to them at their desktop and in meetings at the click of a
button. By putting the data onto a map and adding spatial context, the
information is much more consumable by decision makers and allows them
to see any developing trends in location a types of available
properties. Without GIS this data would’ve been tracked solely through a
single spreadsheet or word document, but by putting the data in GIS it
is now distributed throughout the Village and is maintained in a central
database that is updated and distributed via MapOffice™ to all Village