Never before has the future looked so exciting.
From autonomous vehicles to the most cutting-edge green technologies, the built environment is reshaping before our eyes.
Exciting as it is, these changes breed challenges. The future will require a new way of doing things – a new approach, a new vision.
ASCE has launched a bold, comprehensive project to anticipate, reimagine and prepare for those future changes – Future World Vision.
“The pace of change around us is remarkable – in our industry, in our society, in our world,” said ASCE President Robin Kemper. “As civil engineers, we must adapt to this changing future and reimagine the way we build, operate, and maintain our infrastructure systems.
“ASCE and Future World Vision give us the opportunity to do just that. The future-scenario analysis allows us to anticipate the coming changes and their effects on civil engineers and the communities we serve.”
Using data-driven, in-depth, scenario-planning analysis, Future World Vision puts civil engineers in position to lead, not just today but decades into the future.
ASCE narrowed a large list of future macrotrends into a group of six key trends: climate change, alternative energy, high-tech construction/advanced materials, autonomous vehicles, smart cities, and policy and funding.
By mapping out key trends and potential outcomes, the project then analyzed a range of plausible future scenarios. Each models how society might function in cities and use infrastructure and operational systems while illustrating what civil engineers must do to develop solutions for this evolving future.
The goal was not to predict the future, but rather to develop distinct outcomes that could be combined into distinct future-world scenarios.
For each scenario, the following questions on infrastructure were taken into consideration:
• What is required to build safe and resilient structures?
• How can the sustainability of infrastructure be improved?
• How would infrastructure be designed to take advantage of new innovations?
• How costs and efficiencies in the construction process be improved?
“The world is facing monumental change, and the profession and ASCE must be prepared to lead into the future,” said ASCE Executive Director Tom Smith.
“By looking over the horizon and preparing today for a vastly different world and profession tomorrow, the Future World Vision project will enable ASCE and its members to evaluate future trends and scenarios, and to shape a world that is safe, resilient and sustainable. Ultimately, this project is about achieving the Society’s vision of civil engineers serving as global leaders building a better quality of life and preparing for the challenges of tomorrow.”
Future World Vision aims to empower civil engineers to design and build high-tech, resilient, and sustainable communities that will satisfy future needs, while avoiding undesirable and unintended consequences.
The findings and recommendations from the first phase of this project will guide the development of publications, conference and continuing education sessions, and programs to help ASCE members anticipate and adapt to technology change and growing social and environmental challenges.
“When anticipated future trends, for both civil engineering and infrastructure in general, appear to be on the verge of significant change, it’s time to do some serious future-scenario analysis,” said Jerry Buckwalter, A.M.ASCE, of ASCE’s Industry Leaders Council.
“The greatest value of scenario planning comes from the thought process you go through to determine which trends are most important and will have the most impact on your profession, what range of outcomes they might have and how they might impact each other,” Buckwalter said.
“This is a way to figure out what is the most desirable outcome for society when living and traveling in the future built environment. Then we can also get a handle on the best future role for civil engineers.”