GIS History

On an enterprise level beginning in 1997, Cook County has successfully researched, planned, designed and implemented an enterprise GIS with the intention of delivering data to and improving the services of its constituent agencies and moreover, to enhance and streamline the taxpaying public’s access to vital information.  This established GIS administers and coordinates land-based information across all County agencies utilizing a geography accurately developed from a photogrammetric base, in conjunction with sophisticated information management tools.  The GIS is the vehicle that regulates internal data and work flows as regards spatial information, enables the development of higher-level applications, and provides long-term and stable management.

Cook County, including its seat, the City of Chicago, is the first most populated county in the State of Illinois and the second most populous county in the United States. It has a population of over 5.3 million (2000 Census) within its 956 square miles situated in Northeastern Illinois. There are over 1.7 million parcels and more than 12,000 centerline miles of roadway contained within its boundaries.\

Cook County has a history with GIS dating back to 1987 with the automation of the Cook County Highway Department’s road base.  Other departments such as Cook County Zoning Board of Appeals, Cook County Clerk – Elections, and Cook County Planning were using GIS to accomplish project-specific tasks.

In the mid-1990s an initiative began to automate the Cook County parcel layer in conjunction with an office automation project at the Cook County Assessor’s Office.  For over three years specifications were discussed that emphasized an enterprise wide collaboration among a wide number of agencies that would utilize the GIS.  This activity would culminate in an RFP that was released and awarded in 1998.  By 2004, a comprehensive parcel, planimetric, and imagery data repository was completed along with a parcel maintenance application that mirrored the work flow of the Cook County Clerk and Cook County Assessor’s offices.

In addition, an interagency agreement was established with the City of Chicago that allowed dynamic access and use of the Cook County GIS data assets. The County has also allowed all constituent municipalities the ability to receive, free of charge, all data pertinent to their respective geography.

For the past three years significant upgrades have been made to the infrastructure to allow and promote the use of GIS.  This includes enhanced servers, networking environment, and desktop machines.