Municipal Forums Provide Vital Info, Communication Role For Cities

September 2010 Vol. 65 No. 9

“In most forums,” she added, “a mix of various topics works well so people with different interests and working in different departments can find useful presentations.”

Forum sessions are conducted by recognized industry experts including consultants, representatives of manufacturers, public works personnel and others who have knowledge and experience with design issues, field application of trenchless methods, regulations, asset management and other specialties.

Presentations at the forums are required to be accurate and non-biased, avoiding sales messages, said Simicevic. Presentations must be submitted to the TTC for review well in advance of the forum date, and each presentation is vetted by the TTC to ensure appropriate technical content and minimal branding.

The one-day meeting schedule running typically from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., allows most participants to travel to the meeting and return home on the same day. Field demonstrations of selected technologies also can be part of the program and are occasionally scheduled.

Format
Simicevic said forums generally follow a standard format: there is a morning session with technology or case history presentations and an afternoon discussion session to which only the municipal participants are invited. The afternoon discussions allow the municipal participants to exchange ideas, discuss mutual problems and form networks of support for issues related to underground asset management.

“The combination of technology updates and the chance to compare notes with peers in other municipalities seems to work well,” said Simicevic. “People that come say that they like it a lot.”

Attendance at forums varies from 30 to 70, depending on location. Since 1999, 108 forums have been held in 17 regions. Simicevic estimates more 3,000 people have participated since the forums were initiated.

Cost to attend a session for municipal employees varies from $35 to $45, depending on location, approximately double that for non-municipal employees. Presenters help offset costs of presentations and demonstrations.

TTC Administrative Director Dr. Robert McKim believes the forum series has had a significant positive impact on the advancement of trenchless technology in North America.