Boston Mobility Summit

June 20, 2017

Microsoft New England Research & Development Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts

On June 20, 2017, 129 invited mobility leaders convened in Cambridge, Massachusetts to discuss the future of mobility in the Boston region.

While the Boston region continues to remain globally competitive, the region sits at an altogether unique moment in the history of mobility and transportation. This summit aimed to harness the ingenuity and innovation already underway in the Commonwealth as well as tap into the expertise of invited global thought leaders with best practices directly applicable to Boston’s challenges.

This day-long leadership summit brought together C-suite executives and entrepreneurs, public sector and non-profit leaders, and academics to share local and global best practices applicable to the Boston region. The focus was on transformative new technologies, policies, financing mechanisms, design and collaboration models with a particular focus on low-carbon and equitable solutions.

This was an invitation-only summit, and the application process was extremely competitive. The 129 attendees were selected from over 250 applicants. Registration was free.

Prior to the summit, Meeting of the Minds worked with registrants and the other invited leaders to identify the Boston region’s key mobility pain points and challenges. These were addressed at the summit through a mix of formats: talks, workshops and collaborative work sessions. This summit did not dwell on only the challenges, but rather, focused on the global and regional solutions to the Boston region’s mobility, climate and equity challenges.

This summit was made possible by the generous support of the Barr Foundation.

Many thanks to our host for this event, Microsoft.

Who attended?


  • Public Sector 25% 25%
  • Private Sector 41% 41%
  • Non-profit Sector 19% 19%
  • Philanthropic 6% 6%
  • Academic 9% 9%

Registered Attendees

Chief of Streets
City of Boston Mayor’s Office

Siemens, Intelligent Traffic Systems

Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston

Executive Director
MIT DesignX Accelerator

General Manager, Lyft Boston

Sustainability & Advanced Technology Manager
Ford Motor Company

Chief Technology Officer

Transportation For Massachusetts

Vice President
Barr Foundation

Executive Director
Seaport TMA

Vice President, Strategy
Cubic Transportation Systems

Director, Technology & Civic Engagement
Microsoft New England



June 20, 2017


Networking Breakfast



Gordon Feller, Co-Founder, Meeting of the Minds

Cathy Wissink, Director of Technology and Civic EngagementMicrosoft New England

Mary Skelton Roberts, Senior Program Officer, Climate, Barr Foundation


Goals for the Day & Setting the Context: Regional, Cross-Sectoral, Innovative Solutions

Jessie Feller Hahn, Executive Director, Meeting of the Minds


Climate Change at the Water’s Edge

Julie Wormser, Vice President for Policy, Boston Harbor Now 


Urban Risk Reduction, Preparedness and Financing

Miho Mazereeuw, Director, MIT Urban Risk Lab 


Go Boston 2030 & What Lies Ahead

Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets, City of Boston 


State of the State: Key Challenges and Opportunities

Secretary Stephanie Pollack, Secretary & CEO, Massachusetts Department of Transportation


Autonomous Vehicles in Boston: Results, Outcomes & Next Steps

Karl Iagnemma, Principal Research Scientist, MIT & CEO, nuTonomy


IoT & Smart City Solutions for the Underserved

Matt Caywood, CEO, TransitScreen 


Q&A with Morning Speakers & Group Discussion with Participants


Coffee Break


Facilitated Work Session #1




Facilitated Work Session #2


Coffee Break & Transition


Facilitated Work Session #3


Coffee Break & Transition


Facilitated Work Session #4


Wrap-up and Next Steps

Jim Canales, President and Trustee, The Barr Foundation

Jessie Feller Hahn, Executive Director, Meeting of the Minds

5:00 – 7:00pm

Networking Reception

Facilitated Work Sessions

This event included six short, context-setting plenary talks in the morning. These talks were followed by four facilitated work sessions, each lasting one hour and followed by a fifteen minute coffee break.

These work sessions were small-group discussions and fact-finding workshops meant to provide solutions for the challenges set forth in the morning plenary. Participants were asked to choose a different group for each session. Groups were limited to 12 participants. Workshop themes are listed below with the facilitator.

1. Curbs, parking, equity and access

Facilitator: Chris Osgood, Chief of Streets, City of Boston
Location: Horace Mann Room

2. Planning for climate impacts on Boston economy and transportation systems

Facilitator: Julie Wormser, Vice President for Policy, Boston Harbor Now
Location: Horace Mann Room

3. Wireless technology benefits: access, sustainability, payment systems, and beyond

Facilitator: Gordon Feller, Co-founder, Meeting of the Minds
Location: Horace Mann Room

4. Shared mobility, EV, & AV strategies

Facilitator: Melanie Nutter, Principal, Nutter Consulting
Location: Horace Mann Room

5. Global and local financing solutions for transportation and climate resilient infrastructure

Facilitator: Susan Chapelle, City Councillor, Squamish (British Columbia)
Location: Horace Mann Room

6. The role of government vs entrepreneurs

Facilitator: Kris Carter, Co-Chair & Nigel Jacob, Co-Founder, Office of New Urban Mechanics, City of Boston
Location: Horace Mann Room

7. Better buses & street infrastructure

Facilitator: Kate Fichter, Assistant Secretary for Policy Coordination, Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Location: Adams Room

8. Access for the disability community

Michael Muehe, Executive Director/ADA Coordinator, Cambridge Commission for Persons with Disabilities
& Jennifer Lawrence, Sustainability Planner, Cambridge Community Development Department
Location: Adams Room

9. Reimagining public transportation & urban mobility in the era of TNCs & autonomous vehicles

Facilitator: James Aloisi, Strategic Consultant, Trimount Consulting
Location: Attucks Room

10. Matching transportation supply and demand: regional economic growth strategies

Facilitator: Richard Dimino, President & CEO, A Better City
Location: Attucks Room



The Meeting of the Minds Boston Mobility Summit convened at the Microsoft New England Research and Development (NERD) Center.

Microsoft New England Research & Development Center
1 Memorial Drive., #1
Cambridge, MA 02141


Delegates were encouraged to stay at the Boston Marriott Cambridge. Boston Marriott Cambridge 50 Broadway Cambridge, MA 02142

Microsoft New England Research & Development Center

The Meeting of the Minds Boston Summit convened at the Microsoft New England Research and Development (NERD) Center. Microsoft New England Research & Development Center 1 Memorial Drive., #1 Cambridge, MA 02141

Boston Marriott Cambridge

Delegates were encouraged to stay at the Boston Marriott Cambridge. Boston Marriott Cambridge 50 Broadway Cambridge, MA 02142

Pre-event Publications

The Future of Mobility

The Future of Mobility is a joint media initiative between Boston-based CommonWealth Magazine and Meeting of the Minds.

This series explores the Boston region’s approach to the interrelated challenges of mobility, climate and equity, and features leaders from multiple sectors – public sector, private sector, non-profit sector, philanthropy – who are addressing these challenges with new strategies, policies, technologies, financing mechanisms, collaboration models, and design solutions.

This series was intended to engage Boston leaders and highlight important themes that were addressed at the Meeting of the Minds Boston Mobility Summit on June 20th, 2017. The series continued after the event, as well.

Showing Results Will Win More Funding for Transit Projects

TDM, when employed, works. TDM agencies around the country use a treasure’s trove of strategies to get people out of cars and onto trains, buses, and bikes, which is something that has to happen if we don’t want our roads to become unusable due to traffic and environmental congestion.

But one major problem with the practice of TDM is that it has had a hard time making the case that it is a cost-effective alternative or at least add-on to big infrastructure projects. It seems pretty obvious that teaching people, educating them, about how to use our systems will make those systems run more smoothly. But there has never been a great way to back up that assumption with hard numbers.

read more

4 Ways Cities are Adopting Mobility as a Service

Has the future of mobility arrived yet? Of course, we haven’t reached our final destination, but there are reasons to feel good about our overall progress. A couple cities have made great strides toward the end goal of MaaS, and their successes should serve as examples to other urban areas and regions considering their own next steps.

read more

For Walkers, The Last Six Inches are Important

It is no surprise to those of us in the walking advocacy world that making bus stops accessible and linked to neighborhood sidewalks can increase bus ridership and reduce the number of para-transit trips that are called for. This is a logical outcome of thinking about how people make real life choices about how to get around. What this research demonstrates is an amazing win-win-win for walking and transit advocates. It shows how we can shift trips from autos to transit; give more people more independence by making it possible for them to use regular bus service rather than setting up special, scheduled para-transit trips (some of which require appointments to be made at least 24 hours in advance and only for specified purposes); and save money for transit systems over the long run.

read more

Regulatory Reset Needed on Uber, Self-Driving Cars

Advocates for better public transportation and sustainable mobility need to bring imagination, courage, and determination to our work every day. Technology and business model innovation disruptions will not cease. Those who think that, like King Canute, they can hold back the tide will soon find themselves washed away by the relentless advance of modernity. The question for sustainable mobility advocates is whether that tide will also erode public transportation ridership to dangerously low levels, and whether 20th century auto-centric models that pass for 21st century mobility innovation will ultimately degrade, or at least frustrate our ability to improve, our quality of life. We are challenged as never before to think and act creatively.

read more

TNCs Existential Threat to Public Transportation

It is more than ironic that well into the 21st Century, the one great disruptive change in personal mobility is built upon the increased use of the internal combustion engine. Transportation Network Companies (TNCs) such as Uber and Lyft have become major players in the provision of personal mobility, primarily in urban areas. The problem with TNCs – and I say “problem” because it relates to what I perceive as their most negative impacts – is the essential auto-centric nature of the industry.

read more

A Question of Access: Shifting the Transportation Conversation

Relative to most U.S. cities, Boston and the core municipalities that surround it have a rich eco-system of transit options: four subway lines, over 150 bus routes, an extensive commuter rail system, ferry service, a growing network of bike lanes and paths, and a multi-jurisdictional bike share with over 200 docking stations. Yet these resources are spread unevenly across the area with previously red-lined neighborhoods still lacking the services that other parts of the city rely on. Meanwhile, traffic on the highways that lead into the city is legendarily congested, proving not that we need more roadways but that more transit capacity and reliability is needed to provide people with transportation choices that they can rely on in lieu of their personal cars, and particularly if switching away from private vehicles leads to lower emissions.

read more

How a Non Profit Roundtable Turned into a Smart City Pilot Project

The field of transportation planning needs new blood. We need new thoughts, new approaches. The traditional methods of policymaking are not working because, as already stated, we are not engaging the public in a sufficient or sufficiently meaningful way. We are also not sufficiently engaging other industries, which means that we are not inviting our traditional ways of thinking to be challenged. We need to overcome this insularity by creating policymaking contexts that bring together elected and appointed officials, diverse members of the public, and cross-industry experts. 

read more

Bus Stops and the Future of Digital Placemaking

As two officials of a distressed public agency facing down the consequences of a long history of underinvestment, we are acutely sensitive to the need to get things done on a budget. We are also technologists, which brings us to the idea and potential of digital placemaking for mobility infrastructure: the repurposing of web, mobile and other software and hardware tools to bring new value to the places around the physical nodes and artifacts of the transit system.

Digital tools are often limited to a public engagement role in placemaking. We believe that they can play an important role in transit agency efforts to make its physical infrastructure work better for people.

read more

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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Expanding Visual Accessibility of Mobility Information using the Physical Web

How does public information work for people who can’t read information screens? In the US there are over 1.3 million legally blind people, many of whom have difficulty reading public screens, and over 100,000 totally blind people, who often depend on assistive technology like screen readers (which read text on computers out loud). Naturally, public transportation plays a major role in many of their lives.

read more

One Payment System is Needed For All Transportation

One of the ironies of the advancements in mobility over the last decade has been the driving force of competition involved – and perhaps no development has affected the recent landscape more than the rise of ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft. Integration is a necessity for the future of mobility, extending to every aspect of the transportation infrastructure. From using one account to pay for journeys with multiple transit agencies to collecting valuable data in one database, the mobility industry will be at its most efficient when it is built upon unified solutions. And as executives, engineers, and thought leaders work for the next developments in mobility, it is imperative to acknowledge that we will only take our largest steps by working together toward integrated solutions.

read more

Driverless car revolution is coming

This is the second in a series entitled The Future of Mobility, a joint project of CommonWealth and Meeting of the Minds. Transition will be tricky, so planning needs to start now The connection between land use and transportation has been well-established, but it’s...

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