Improving Census Boundary Information with Digital Mapping

Each year the U.S. Census Bureau asks local governments to participate in the Boundary Annexation Survey (BAS).  This survey gives the U.S. Census Bureau the most current geographic boundaries of the area the municipality serves. For many, like the Village of Woodridge, IL, it is an excellent opportunity to improve population estimates.

In previous years, this review process was manual, and municipalities used paper and colored pencils to demarcate their boundaries and neighboring borders. They had to note down any annexations, de-annexations, or boundary changes that occurred since the last BAS was conducted. 

Today, the Census Bureau encourages digital submissions of BAS materials using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Instead of listing and drawing modifications by hand, GIS tools are used to quickly identify changes between village boundaries and census boundaries.  Using GIS for BAS submissions has benefitted the village in meaningful ways. It’s saved a great deal of staff time and effort, provided richer detail in identifying changes, and ultimately improved the population estimates provided by the Census Bureau.

Using GIS to Audit Franchise Fee Addresses

The Village of Woodridge, IL is asked periodically by Comcast Corporation to verify customer addresses. This is done in accordance with the Municipal Franchise Fee Review, which helps municipalities confirm that they are receiving the proper franchise fees from Comcast. 

Working with Geographic Information Systems (GIS), the Village of Woodridge quickly audited the address lists provided by Comcast rather than manually comparing each address to their enterprise management system. GIS compared the village’s address database against two customer address lists provided by Comcast, saving village staff numerous hours of manual review. 

Even though the first address list from Comcast included customers who live in Woodridge, annexation dates were missing. The second list of customers could not be identified as being in the village or not. Using GIS, these addresses were mapped and compared against existing locations and annexation information stored in the GIS environment. The results gave Comcast the accurate information they need and provided the village with greater certainty about the franchise fees they receive from Comcast.

GIS Assists in Available Property Tour

The Village of Woodridge, IL encourages economic development in a variety of ways, but one of their most direct methods is hosting a tour of the village for real estate brokers and those interested in investing in property.  The tour is held each year, and begins at the Village Hall where attendees are greeted by members of the village.  The attendees then get on a bus that drives around the village, and Community Development staff work as guides to point out available properties and answer any questions.  To help give those attending a better idea of what a recent tour would entail, the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department was asked to create a map showing the proposed tour route and the planned stops.

Before utilizing GIS for the tour, staff relied on notes to determine the order of properties visited on the tour and information associated with them.  The Village now uses GIS to assist in this event by creating a map book.  This map book is distributed to attendees and it highlights the route of the tour in addition to displaying the properties they will be visiting.  This was also a great help to the staff so they could better manage their time when travelling from property to property, as well as to better relate answers that involved highlighting nearby amenities or other available properties. 

Improving Accessibility to Data with Business Intelligence

To better understand why certain types of crime are concentrated in different parts of the village, the Village of Woodridge, IL Police Department was looking for a way to show the locations of the current calls for service, as well as information from their police database, in a spatial environment. While creating a static map product periodically would have been one option, a more dynamic option would be to integrate this data into the village’s web-based mapping application, MapOffice™, using Business Intelligence. Business Intelligence allows the police department to view these different data sources dynamically, side-by-side on a map and visualize trends that may not be readily apparent when looking at the data in a spreadsheet or other tabular format. 

Business Intelligence is a technology that allows connections to be made to a variety of data sources that include spreadsheets, databases, dispatch systems, and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. The Woodridge police department benefits from this type of connection since their service call data and police database are stored in different places. Now, when police staff use MapOffice™, they can see multiple data sources together, including call data, locations where illegal property trespasses have occurred, and where patrolling location of interest are located. Officers can also access this information in the field using laptops in their patrol cars.

Business Intelligence connections in MapOffice™ is a powerful technology that allows multiple sources of data to be integrated into a single location, which can provide deeper insight into common questions.

Revealing Detailed Property Tax information with MapOffice™

The Village of Woodridge, IL regularly receives questions from residents related to property taxes.   Whether this is related to understanding their tax bill or where their money is going, these questions can be answered more effectively with a visualization that residents can understand and that staff can easily explain.  It was this need that initiated the development of a custom layer for the village’s online mapping application, MapOffice™, which would allow a resident to see a full breakdown of their property tax information.

This custom layer was developed by the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department using tax information provided by DuPage County and Will County that consists of the tax rate owed to each taxing body by tax code.  This information was combined with parcel data that was also provided by the county and charted.  The end result is a custom layer that allows a resident to click on a parcel and see their total tax rate, as well as a chart that shows the composition of this total tax rate by the tax rate of each taxing body.  This allows users to easily find differences in taxing from one property to the next, and to understand how these differences are attributed to taxing districts.  This custom layer can also be used as a tool for village staff to reference when answering questions related to property taxes.

Defining School Boundaries Using GIS

One of the most common questions that staff at the Village of Woodridge, IL receive from new residents is "What school will my children attend?"  The majority of the village’s residential areas are within Woodridge School District 68, which includes seven different elementary schools.  Previously, village staff would forward questions like this to the school district offices to get answered or, depending on where the resident lived, to the individual schools themselves.  However, through the capabilities of the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department, the locations of each of these school boundaries within the district were mapped out and provided as part of the village’s web-based mapping application, MapOffice™, allowing village staff and residents to find the information they’re looking for in a fraction of the time.

Mapping the attendance boundaries of each of the seven schools required collaboration between the village, the school district, and each of the schools.  Traditionally, school district staff relied on memory and street name lists to determine which school a student would attend.  In order to transfer this knowledge to a map environment, the village GIS staff had multiple conversations with staff at the district and each school and several iterations of a boundary map were created for them to review to determine the existing attendance boundary for each school.  Once these boundaries were determined and finalized with input from the schools, they were exposed as a custom map layer in MapOffice™ for use by the public, school district personnel, and village staff.  Now staff and residents can access this information easily by searching for an address and activating the boundary layer.  This project demonstrates how GIS can be used as a collaborative tool for optimizing a workflow between multiple organizations.

Using ArcGIS Online to Reveal Available Properties

An important step in attracting new businesses and industry to a community is promoting the commercial properties that are available for purchase or development.  The Village of Woodridge, IL previously had a web-based mapping application that displayed the locations of available sites in the village, but the Community Development department was interested in upgrading this application and making it easier for interested businesses to search and easier for village planners to upgrade the data being displayed in the application.  To fulfill this need the department asked the Geographic Information System (GIS) department to develop a more customized application that fit the needs of what the department was looking for.

In response to this request, the GIS staff decided to use an ArcGIS Online Story Map template, which can be customized from what’s provided out-of-the-box to provide the additional functionality the Community Development department was looking for.   Based on input from the department, the story map created displays available or vacant office, retail, and industrial property opportunities and is branded so the design is consistent with other parts of the village website.  A revised process for updating the data has also been established, so planners can quickly update the application with new property locations and information as it becomes available.    This revised available property application design and update process provides the Community Development department with a more robust process for advertising vacant space and a more efficient method for updating the application with new content.

Visualizing Reported Water Leaks Using GIS

A number of factors can contribute to a water leak occurring in a community’s water utility system.  In order to better understand how these factors interact, the Village of Woodridge, IL set out to visualize the locations of reported leaks with the help of the village’s Geographic Information Systems (GIS) department in order to better understand their spatial and temporal distribution throughout the community.

The process of tracking water leaks involves Public Works employees filling out a form that tracks the time and location of the leak, who was assigned the work order, and any information related to how the leak was fixed.  Previously, the only way Public Works employees could identify any trends in leaks reported was by relying on memory or viewing each report one by one and organizing them based on location. Using GIS, the Woodridge Public Works Department can now view the locations of each water leak incidents spatially using the village’s interactive mapping application, MapOffice™ Advanced.  This was accomplished by mapping the leak locations tracked in the water leak report and, once these locations were mapped out, linking that location to a scanned copy of the associated leak report in case the user wants to see all the information associated with a specific leak.

Mapping water leaks with GIS and viewing them spatially in relation to each now allows Woodridge Public Works to see water leak trends in the community.  Being able to identify these trends without having to review each leak report one by one will allow the department to make more informed decisions related to budgeting and response, thereby providing better service to village residents.

Using GIS to Compare Regional Sales Tax

​The Illinois Department of Revenue provides municipalities with sales tax data they can use to compare tax rates by municipality, county, or special commercial area.  To better understand how the Village of Woodridge’s general merchandise and telecommunications sales taxes compare to surrounding communities, the village’s Finance department asked the village’s Geographic Information System (GIS) department to create a custom data layers that shows the regional distributions of these taxes.  These custom layers were able to display this information visually in the village’s interactive mapping application, MapOffice™, in a readily available way, as opposed to making comparisons line by line using a spreadsheet.

These custom layers were created by dividing the tax information up by municipality and special commercial area boundaries based the county in which they exist, which in turn defines the sales tax for that community.  Once these boundaries had been created, they were symbolized based on their total sales tax rate. To visualize the makeup of each areas total sales tax rate, a Microsoft Excel Macro was used to generate a pie chart for each area.  Each of these charts was then embedded in the GIS attribute information for each area, so, when the user clicks on an area in MapOffice™, the chart is displayed.  By embedding chart-based analytics within a custom map layer, users can easily make visual comparisons of sales tax between communities, helping the village Finance department staff to be more efficient and productive with the time they spend working on requests related to this information.