I go to a lot of trade shows and conferences to gather ideas and information for articles that will help you do more with less. My travels uncover all kinds of tips: new products (High pressure wheel washing and road building products), technological developments, innovative construction methods, and pending legislation.
Public Works readers at these events are always happy to answer questions. But I don’t like to monopolize their time and attention. They’re focused—and rightly so—on wringing the most out of their agency’s travel and education budgets.
That’s why one of my new year’s resolutions is to spend more time hanging out with readers at their place of employment. Nothing opens the door wider on understanding your needs than actually being on site with you.
I’ve been fortunate to spend the day (or as many hours as my hosts could spare) with public works departments in California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Minnesota, Virginia, and Wisconsin. I’ve sat in on meetings with staff, FEMA representatives, contractors, and elected officials. I saw a public works director answer parking policy questions on live television. I’ve been to a jobsite where homes were removed for a flood prevention project, been walked to intersections to evaluate Americans with Disabilities Act sidewalk-compliance measures, tried to follow along as traffic engineers explained lighting control technology, and seen how decals are applied to police cars (silly me: I thought they were painted on).
I hope you’ll give me the opportunity to tag along and learn about your team. E-mail email@example.com.
So here’s my idea: I’ll tack a day on to travel plans for the rest of the year to visit a local operation, assuming I’m invited, of course. Here’s what I have scheduled:
May 4–7: American Public Works Association Snow Show, Cincinnati.
June 8–12: American Water Works Association annual conference, Boston.
July 14–18: Esri International User Conference, San Diego.
Aug. 3–7: StormCon Surface Water Quality Conference, Portland, Ore.
Aug. 17–20: American Public Works Association International Congress, Toronto.
Sept. 27–Oct. 1: Water Environment Federation WEFTEC, New Orleans.
Oct. 7–9: National Roadside Vegetation Management Association Annual Conference, Huntsville, Ala.