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April 26, 2017

Case Study: GIS Services and the City of Marion, Illinois

The City of Marion, Illinois reached out to Horner & Shifrin to help them on two fronts. First, they needed to enable their staff with real-time mobile access to property data, work order scheduling, email alerts, and invoicing for City code violation and occupancy inspection operations. Second, the City of Marion requested Horner & Shifrin provide a web-based Geographic Information System (GIS) solution for the collection of over 35,000 burial sites through the City and have real-time access to the cemetery map which would be easy to deploy, cost effective, and accessible to the public.

In order to increase the efficiency of the City’s personnel, Horner & Shifrin provided a custom ASP.NET invoicing system application incorporated with current City of Marion data presently hosted on Horner & Shifrin’s cloud GIS services. Cloud hosting provides a Single-Pane-of-Glass secure access for City staff to access this data from any City workstation and/or from cellular enabled mobile devices such as Apple iPads.

Mobile data collection and real-time data insight
Horner & Shifrin’s GIS staff collected digital data from the City to construct a base map of property and existing building structures. Once deployed, City staff were able to locate code violations such as lawn height, garbage, abandoned vehicles, etc. or to inspect rental properties on a triennial basis looking for electrical, mechanical, interior, safety, etc. defects in compliance with code.  In addition, City staff are able to print occupancy certificates or create work orders directly from the vehicle using their iPads.  City Clerk staff are able to invoice the building owner based on a violation or inspection event, after the event had been added to the map, or as a work order has been placed.

Data driven maps and web-based map access
With regards to the request for burial site information collection, Horner & Shifrin provided the city personnel a Trimble GeoXH handheld device with the ability to locate and record burial data within 3-inch accuracy.  Standard forms and drop down menus ensured data integrity by providing preset values.  The standardized menus and ease of use allowed the City to realize further savings by utilizing summer interns for field data collection.

In addition, the project allowed the public to interactively search through Marion burial records on the City’s Website. “Prior to our solution, water or fire could have destroyed all of the cemetery data,” says project manager Jeff Stahlhuth. “Now they have a user-friendly, modernized cemetery record set available to the public. Once all sites have been inventoried, the City of Marion should never have to worry about double burials, losing someone’s information, or even fear of vandalism because headstones got knocked over or damaged.”

Digital photo report and video access
The City has the ability to attach photos to the cemetery burials, sewer inspection reports, and videos of their sewer mains to the cloud GIS services. Once uploaded to the main server, City staff can access the video from any computer allowing them to start, stop, rewind and fast forward through the video. The photos and reports are viewable from the field on a tablet or phone, eliminating the need to go back to a file cabinet in the office and pulling the report or finding the photo in either hard copy or digital folder. This saves time and gas going back and forth to the office and allows for real-time access in case of emergency. In a case of an emergency, a photo taken with a tablet by a field member is then viewable by other staff members.

H&S was chosen by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois (ACEC-IL) to receive a Merit Award for its Cloud GIS (Geographic Information System) solution on their cemetery mapping project.

Innovation. Agility.
Reliability. Horner & Shifrin.