In June 2008, the City of Des Plaines Community and Economic
Development Department started a webpage on the city’s website called
“Great Eats and More”. The idea of the webpage was to highlight various
city restaurants and attractions in an effort to help generate
additional business, thus accentuating some of the things that set Des
Plaines apart from their surrounding communities.
While the list provided on the webpage allows a visitor to see what
is available in the city, it alone does not provide a good frame of
reference as to where each attraction is physically located. To help
enhance the functionality of the webpage, a Google Map feature was
introduced to allow users the option of viewing the list spatially in a
familiar, user-friendly mapping interface.
To assist with this project, the Geographic Information System (GIS)
Department developed a KML (Keyhole Markup Language) file that contains
geographic and attribute information for the businesses listed on the
“Great Eats and More” webpage. KMLs are web files that can be viewed in
many online mapping applications and can be developed for numerous
geographic feature types. The KML developed for the city consists of
point features representing the location of each business.
To customize the Google Map with local city information, an excel
spreadsheet of addresses was provided by the Community and Economic
Development Department and inputted into the GIS software application.
Once spatial features were created for each location, attribute
information was then added. This included the address, website, phone
number and all other necessary information that a visitor would need to
locate or contact each establishment. The attributes included in a KML
are what appear on-screen when a location is selected within Google
Maps. Keeping the KML updated both spatially and with correct
attribute information is critical. As businesses are added and removed
from the Great Eats and More listing, the KML is updated to reflect the
changes. Furthermore, having the map application current with the
webpage listing ensures that visitors can use both options to find a
location, which helps to maximize the website’s functionality and
Introducing a Google Maps application to the city’s “Great Eats and
More” webpage has helped to enhance the ability of visitors searching
for local attractions. Since KML file structures can be used with free
mapping websites, this enhancement was also made at no additional cost
to the city. By providing this mapping application, the city has added
an additional service that helps to make visits to the "Great Eats and
More" webpage more user-friendly.