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American Society of Civil Engineers
Presents

Future World Vision

Infrastructure Reimagined

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 future changes – FUTURE WORLD VISION.

 

Civil engineers, in reimagining the world, must adapt how we design, build, operate, and maintain our infrastructure systems.

Using data-driven, in-depth, scenario-planning analysis, Future World Vision puts civil engineers in position to lead not just today but five decades into the future.

By mapping out key trends and potential outcomes, we projected a range of plausible future-based scenarios. Each scenario models how society might interface with cities, infrastructure, and operational systems, while illustrating what civil engineers must do to develop solutions for this changing future.

Future World Vision will help ensure that the decisions we make as civil engineers, in building high-tech, resilient, and sustainable communities of the future, optimize desirable outcomes while avoiding undesirable and unintended consequences.

Trends

 

Six important sociopolitical, economic, environmental, and technological macrotrends were identified as key drivers of change for civil engineers and the built environment:

Alternative Energy

Alternative Energy

Technological breakthroughs may lead to more widespread deployment of alternative energy sources, replacing fossil fuels with low- or no-emission energy options.

Autonomous Vehicles

Autonomous Vehicles

A fully autonomous vehicle system has the potential to transform cities and transportation. Autonomous vehicle systems may require significantly less space than the previous car-related infrastructure, thereby freeing up large parcels for development.

Climate Change

Climate Change

Climate change refers to a broad range of global phenomena—including global warming, extreme weather events, sea-level rise, and coastal flooding—created predominantly by burning fossil fuels that add heat-trapping greenhouse gases to the Earth's atmosphere.

Smart Cities

Smart Cities

In the future, smart-city applications, both as integrated systems and through single vertical use, will have a profound influence on building management, transportation, energy and utilities, public safety, municipal services, and citizen engagement.

High-Tech Construction / Advanced Materials

High-Tech Construction / Advanced Materials

Innovations in automation, prefabrication, and large-scale 3D printing have the potential to reshape construction processes with a dramatic increase in how quickly infrastructure can be built and rebuilt.

Policy & Funding

Policy & Funding

Increased quality of life will hinge on clear policy goals, creative financing methods, coherent regulation of new technology, private-sector funding cooperation, and an eye toward promoting equity of access.

Scenarios

 

These 4 scenarios provide a basis to better understand—and prepare for—what the future may hold for the built environment.

The scenarios don’t represent all-or-nothing models. Components of one scenario could coexist with those of another scenario, driven by geography, culture and the degree to which communities are impacted by the six trends.

Resilient Cities

In this scenario, climate change wreaks havoc on urban and coastal cities. The increasing severity of the effects will increase the demand for substantial investments in long-term protective measures.

Progressive Megacities

In this scenario, extreme mass urbanization drives the government’s direct action, through technology and city planning, toward the development of progressive megacities.

Dispersed Settlements

In this scenario, degradation in the quality of urban life coupled with advances in renewable energy and telecommunications technology leads to emigration from traditional cities into new, relatively isolated settlements.

Unequal Enclaves

In this scenario, fully autonomous—but expensive—vehicles will enable the wealthy to commute from affluent new settlements, leaving behind cash-strapped urban centers.