Trends Spring 2015 | Page 8

Supportive solutions GIS Consortium provides cutting-edge data to impacted communities By Bob Brown Life is good in the Village of Tinley Park. Located along the Interstate 80 corridor about 25 miles southwest of downtown Chicago, Tinley Park has a population of about 57,000 and recently was named “The Best Place to Raise Your Kids in Illinois” by BusinessWeek magazine and the ninth-best “small” city in America by the real estate research blog Movoto. Many factors go into maintaining a thriving community, and Steve Tilton, Tinley Park’s assistant village manager, says a key factor for his community is its membership in the GIS Consortium (GISC). Sharing assets Formed in 1999 by four suburban communities, today the GISC is an organization of 27 Chicago-area cities and villages covering more than 206 square miles, with a combined population of more than 756,000. Through the GISC these municipalities work cooperatively to find cost- effective solutions to shared urban planning challenges using advanced geographic information systems and related technologies. Since its inception, the GISC has relied on Ayres Associates to provide its member communities with detailed, three-dimensional mapping that allows them to more capably and efficiently deal with challenges facing virtually every 8│ TRENDS department of municipal government. These maps allow communities to create cost-effective plans for everything from stormwater/utility maintenance and road building to providing public safety and managing urban forestry. Joining the GISC in 2009 wasn’t an easy decision for Tinley Park officials. “We had to do our homework to ensure the $250,000 annual expenditure for the Village would be money well spent,” Tilton said. But, he adds, today it’s clear Tinley Park residents are getting their money’s worth for that investment. “It’s been fantastic,” Tilton said of the GISC. “The expertise they bring to all their communities, how to collect and sort that data and distribute it to our residents, has worked out very well.” Efficiencies appreciated GISC data allows Tinley Park to provide on its website a map on which residents can click on their property to receive a wealth of individualized information – everything from their polling place and tax assessments to garbage pickup dates and scheduled street maintenance. “More than anything, it’s a great way to link a lot of information in one place,” Tilton said. “It makes it very