Articles by Joseph Barr

About Joseph Barr

Joseph Barr is the Director of Traffic, Parking, and Transportation for the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and is also a member of the Board of Directors of the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Organizational Development for Public Agencies

Not long after I started in my current role, I was venting to a friend about a particularly difficult personnel issue and about how I felt that it was distracting me from other work. After listening to my complaints for a little while, her response was simple: “isn’t that your job?” At that moment, I was just looking for a sympathetic ear and confirmation that this was a distraction from more “important” work. But the more I thought about her question, the more I realized she was making a crucial point: dealing with these kinds of personnel and organizational issues is the job—and in many cases, the most important part of what I do.

Transportation Communications: No One Told Me It Would Be This Hard

As the leader of a transportation agency, there is no shortage of people ready to tell me how technology is going to revolutionize the way we do business. Autonomous vehicles, on-demand sensors, drone-based package delivery, solar-powered roads, road-straddling super-buses (that one turned out to a bust); it’s a veritable cornucopia of real and not-so-real revolutions. And within that world of technophiles, there’s a subset waiting to tell me (and you) about how wireless communications will underlie and enable all of those revolutions to our transportation systems. As with so many things in life, they’re totally right, and yet it’s so much more complicated.

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