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.
Six important sociopolitical, economic, environmental, and technological macrotrends were identified as key drivers of change for civil engineers and the built environment:
Technological breakthroughs may lead to more widespread deployment of alternative energy sources, replacing fossil fuels with low- or no-emission energy options.
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 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.
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.
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.
In this scenario, extreme mass urbanization drives the government’s direct action, through technology and city planning, toward the development of progressive megacities.
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.
In this scenario, fully autonomous—but expensive—vehicles will enable the wealthy to commute from affluent new settlements, leaving behind cash-strapped urban centers.