Fighting COVID-19 with geospatial tech

The City of Elgin, Illinois, is using ArcGIS to help keep citizens informed about local case loads and critical services


Businesses in Downtown Elgin are using the city’s mapping system to keep customers up to date on amended services. Image:

Communities have turned to Esri’s ArcGIS platform for a variety of reasons over the years.

The City of Colorado Springs, for example, created a citizen-facing program called “Cone Zones,” using the mapping functionality to alert citizens of public roadwork in their area.

Even Walgreens turned to the mapping system in its fight against the opioid crisis, creating interactive maps to help communities access safe disposal sites for unused medications.

And now, the City of Elgin, Illinois, is using the technology to help its citizens weather the pandemic.

“As part of the continued response to the coronavirus and its impacts to the community and economy,” wrote Assistant City Manager Karina Nava, “the City of Elgin released a new interactive mapping hub that supports local businesses and organizations, while providing consistent information for its residents.”

In addition to the latest Elgin-area COVID-19 statistics, community members can use the Coronavirus Mapping Resource Center to access a variety of resources, including testing sites, food pantries and school free meal distribution sites, mental health and substance abuse services, legal services and more.


Residents can learn how the virus is impacting individual zip codes as well as access hospitalization information in real time.


Citizens can easily find substance abuse resources and other essential services in the community via the city’s Coronavirus Mapping Resource Center.

Residents can also learn about business closures and altered operation schedules in their area.


ArcGIS makes it easy to document the impact COVID-19 is having on the local business community.

“Any community that is looking to put together a COVID-19 resource map should start with the tools they have,” said City of Elgin GIS Analyst Rich Snyder. “If they are using ArcGIS, then they have everything they need to produce interactive maps and other dynamic tools for their cities and residents.”

Yet, the tools, Snyder points out, are only one part of the equation.

“Another major factor in the success of their maps, dashboards, and hubs is collaboration with other departments. Community outreach is best handled by those who do it daily, and their expertise is critical in forming the questions that appear on the forms so that the local businesses needs and concerns are met, as well as providing the data that the public wants and needs.”


Businesses can submit their information directly into the ArcGIS system.

Visit Elgin’s Coronavirus Mapping Resource Center to learn more.

Sarah is based in North Carolina, where she lives with her son and several rambunctious reptiles. Before taking on her current role with Lexipol, she was the staff writer for the tech website DZone and served as an assistant editor with the rural lifestyle publication GRIT Magazine. Get in touch with her at