GIS Introduces Collector App for the Light Pole Painting Schedule


The Village of Winnetka has maintained data for some time on the condition of light poles within the Village, however, no clear light pole painting schedule was created. Previously, light pole inventory would be mapped out and printed on a large map and marked in the field when they are painted. This is quite the cumbersome task. Using new technology, GIS was able to come up with a more efficient way of collecting data.

Now, GIS has introduced the Collector App, a free application that staff can use to view all lights that need to be painted and mark them done as they go. No longer will large paper maps be needed! This application is downloaded onto a mobile device and can easily be used to edit existing features or create new features. With the Collector, users create a point at a desired location and define attributes associated to that point. Once that data is collected it can be brought back into the main frame of the GIS databases.

Using a smartphone to collect data is a more convenient platform to use in the field. This easy to use application is reducing the time it would have taken to mark information on a paper map and bring it back to GIS to record. 

GIS Completes an Impervious Surface Analysis for the Stormwater Management Program

Since 2008, Winnetka has seen more than average flooding in the community that has affected financial losses and destruction. Winnetka has brought it upon itself to alleviate the struggle with flooding by implementing a Stormwater Management Program. This program uses expert advisors to assess the land and systems to determine the best way to pay for a permanent solution. In the massive flooding of 2011, it caused approximately $7.6 million in uninsured damages! Winnetka’s goal is to substantially reduce structural flooding by 2017 with the implementation of the stormwater fee to pay for the system improvements. These fees are based on the impervious surfaces on each parcel of land. GIS was able to step in to complete a full analysis!


An Impervious Surface Analysis takes into account all impervious GIS data, Cook Co. data and Winnetka billing data and merges it all together based on PINs.  The list of impervious data that was merged is:

  • Building

  • Driveway

  • Miscellaneous Features (such as patios)

  • Parking Areas

  • Paths

  • Paved Areas

  • Private Roads

  • Sidewalks

The impervious surfaces were created from a fly-over of the Village by Ayers (contracted out by the Village). This was then brought together with Zoning Information, Cook Co. Assessor Data (Taxpayer information), Water Billing Data, Parcel Data and GIS Addresses. Checks and balances on the data were completed throughout the analysis to assure data and information accuracy. With this data, it can now be brought into the financial system, New World, and out to the residents of Winnetka. 

Without GIS, this analysis could not be completed with these accuracy levels and in the time that it was done. More is still to come with the Impervious Surface Analysis!

GIS Uses MapOffice Advanced to Display the Impervious Surface Analysis

After the previously reported article on the implementation of the Impervious Surface Analysis and how GIS was in the development stages, GIS has taken it one step further and displayed all information for Village staff to view using MapOffice Advanced! It was clear that Village staff needed a way to view the data fast and easy – MapOffice Advanced!


In addition to using the MapOffice Advanced custom overlays, HTML code inserted into the GIS data to create defined groupings of information. Since the Impervious Surface Analysis takes into account many sources of data, it was necessary to have them grouped by category of data. No longer is there just a list of information in a pop-up window. The HTML code was simple to use to create a great output! 

GIS Integrates Sign Inventory into Business Intelligence

The Village of Winnetka Public Works Department has long been heavily involved with the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department to create new project ideas. One such idea was to take a newly updated sign inventory and bring it into Business Intelligence for staff viewing. Previously, Village staff would refer to paper maps to view the all of the signs. This was functional but could be much improved with the help of GIS and MapOffice™. 

Using Business Intelligence, staff is able to view the sign inventory by category, making it easier to view and understand. This limits what is seen based on the request of the staff member.  It was decided to break down the sign inventory into these types and condition categories:

  •  All Type

  •  Ornamental – OK Condition

  •  Ornamental – Poor Condition

  •  Regulatory – Fair Condition  

  •  Regulatory – OK Condition

  •  Regulatory – Poor Condition

  •  School Area – Fair Condition

  •  School Area – OK Condition

  •  School Area – Poor Condition

  •  Service – Fair Condition

  •  Service – OK Condition

  •  Street Name – OK Condition

  •  Street Name – Poor Condition

  •  Unknown – Fair Condition

  •  Unknown – OK Condition

  •  Unknown – Poor Condition

  •  Warning – Fair Condition

  •  Warning – OK Condition

  •  Warning – Poor Condition


Now staff can view data based on the criteria selected. This gives staff an ease of viewing and accessing data. 

GIS Integrates Hydrant Painting Schedules into MapOffice™

The Village of Winnetka Public Works and Water and Electric Departments has long been heavily involved with the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department to create new project ideas. One such idea was to take an existing project for the hydrant painting schedule and incorporate it further into GIS and MapOffice™. Previously, Winnetka GIS was creating paper maps on request for the hydrant schedules. This was well maintained but the process could be improved for easy access.

Due to the need to view the hydrant maps on a more regular basis when GIS may not be onsite, it was decided to create a custom overlay for staff to reference at any time. No longer does GIS need to continuously print hydrant maps, rather staff can refer to the custom overlay and print directly from MapOffice™. Also, when updated schedules are created, the data can be updated by GIS which is then updated in MapOffice™ as well. 

Without GIS, Winnetka would still be referring to paper maps on request. This worked well for Winnetka but as technology advances, so does the way in which it is accessed. With having a custom overlay of the hydrant painting schedules, it is easy for staff to view at any given time.

GIS Attributes All Light Poles!

The Village of Winnetka Public Works Department is in the process of creating painting schedules for all light poles in the Village. GIS was able to help accomplish this with staff assistance and MapOffice™! Previously, Midwest GIS was contracted out by Winnetka to inventory all of the signs in the Village. However, the attributes of each pole were not populated such as height and color. With the help of village staff, GIS was able to update each light pole and attribute all the necessary fields correctly. 

Having the attributes populated allowed for developing basic maps for developing painting schedules. Additionally, for ease of viewing, the light pole data was brought into MapOffice™ as a custom overlay. Staff is now able to easily view the light pole data by pole type and painting schedule. 

GIS Finishes Integrating Lateral Lines in the Water System


The Village of Winnetka Water and Electric Department has long been
heavily involved with the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
department and creating new project ideas. One such idea involved
integrating the department’s water lateral lines to all buildings so
that field crews would be able to view the information in a map outside
of an office environment. Through GIS this has been accomplished and is
starting to produce more analysis ideas based on the lateral line data.

This project had many steps to completion that heavily involved the
collaboration between the Water and Electric Department and GIS. Water
lateral index cards gave in-depth descriptions of the location of
lateral lines and from that, Winnetka staff was able to use the village
map application, MapOffice™, to draw in the correct locations of these
lines and provide those drawings to the GIS staff. Additionally, any
corrections to the distribution system were made at the same time to
further improve the system and its accuracy. From these maps, GIS was
able to edit the water system to match the marked up maps. This was a
long process that has had a high ending result for staff members.

Without GIS, these lateral lines would still be located on index
cards and not spatially located in a map that could be accessed by field
workers. GIS is giving The Village of Winnetka more in depth viewable
data in an advanced mapping application.

Emergency Event Tool is activated in Business Intelligence


The Village of Winnetka has been hard at work developing and
fine-tuning its Emergency Event Tool for emergencies as flooding,
tornadoes, blizzards and more. This tool was brought to the test on
April 18th, 2013 after a major flooding event in the Chicagoland area.
Winnetka was experiencing large amounts of downpour rain in a small
amount of time and required the assistance of GIS and Business
Intelligence to track flooding patterns and areas of concern. Through
the Emergency Event Tool, the flooding was able to be further analyzed
by staff.

Having an overall visual of where the emergency is happening and any
patterns can lead to more efficient response times. The Emergency Event
Tool is staff-controlled through an Access Database and implemented in
real time mapping through Business Intelligence. With just a click of
the mouse, Winnetka staff is able to view where the emergency is
occurring at any moment with the most up to date information. This was
proven to be essential in tracking the April 18th event. Staff was
trained on how to use the Access Data Entry Form and how to report
calls. Once a staff member entered an event, the Emergency Event Tool in
Business Intelligence would immediately update its data. In an
emergency event, having up to date information is crucial and the
Emergency Event Tool does just that!

Real-time emergencies are inevitable but can be better controlled and
tracked with the Emergency Event Tool. Through the analysis of events
such as April 18th, the Village of Winnetka is able to develop and
execute efficient policies and standards for future events.

Using GIS to Support Sidewalk Snow Removal


Winter operations for local government Public Works departments
involve many different tasks, from snow and ice removal to decorating
for the holiday season. Often times these operations can require a
significant amount of resources and man hours from department staff to
complete, which can be further complicated by personnel turnover,
illness, or some other event that impacts staff availability. To
assist with better documenting their sidewalk snow removal routes for an
easier transfer of information between staff members, the Village of
Winnetka, IL Public Works department asked the village’s Geographic
Information Systems (GIS) department to help develop a series of maps
showing the different routes and highlighting certain areas that may
require additional attention during a snow event.

In addition to information provided by department personnel on the
location of each snow removal route, the GIS department was also
provided with a series of old Computer-Aided Design (CAD) drawings to
use as a starting point for developing the requested series of maps.
Using both these sources, and existing sidewalk data that was already
available, the GIS department staff was able to extract out the
necessary sidewalk features that are associated with each removal route
and develop a series of color coded maps that highlight each removal
area as well as areas of additional concern (i.e. areas of steep
incline, etc). After a thorough review of the maps, the Public Works
staff approved the new products and implemented them into a snow removal
map book that is now available in every department plow truck and snow
removal vehicle.

Having this resource moving forward will make it easier and less time
consuming to communicate removal routes to new staff or existing staff
that needs to fill in on a route they are unfamiliar with. By
transferring the sidewalk snow removal information to a visual medium,
the Village of Winnetka Public Works Department now has a more efficient
and standardized resource for communicating information between
department personnel.