Possible Futures: Greater Philly

May 26, 2017

“The future ain’t what it used to be.”

While the source of the quote is debatable, the sentiment rings increasingly true as big changes keep coming. As we face such uncertainty, a better understanding of how change may unfold is needed to prepare and plan for possible futures.

As A Greater Madison Vision looks forward to prepare a vision and plan for our future, we can learn from other regions who recently did the same. One example is the greater Philadelphia region, where participants in Connections 2045 examined possible futures they may face.

In the Future, regions around the world will face a number of external forces – such as climate change, new technologies, and shifting population and job locations – that create major challenges and opportunities. These Future Forces are broader social, technological, economic, environmental and political trends that can create sudden and rapid change.

The Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission convened the Greater Philadelphia Futures Group, with experts in economics, land use, the environment, public health, transportation, and technology. They studied future forces and emerging trends which could influence their region and prepared five possible futures:

For each possible future, the Planning Commission painted a picture (narrative) of what life is like in 2045. They also identified both benefits and challenges it will bring, and why that future may not happen.

This effort is proactive and will help the region, in the words of hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, “skate to where the puck will be.”

The Commission then developed strategic actions to prepare for and respond to aspects of the futures as they may emerge. They developed Universal Actions that the region can take to improve its position regardless of which future emerges. They also developed Priority Regional Actions specific to each possible future.

What do you think? Do the Greater Philly possible futures ring true for Greater Madison? Join in the discussion! Check out our latest survey below, where you have an opportunity to weigh in on some regional changes that many people think might come to pass. How likely is this to happen? What would happen as a result if it did?