Future of Cities, Information and Inclusion

An Institute for the Future forecasting hub

About the Forecast

It is now widely recognized that the world has passed a critical threshold – we are now more than 50 percent urbanized and by the end of the century, this process will be nearly complete.

But a more subtle transformation that will play out alongside this rapid urbanization is also beginning. We are in the midst of a major transformation in the way cities are measured, analyzed and managed – both at the macro and micro levels – which is playing out as new information, communications and sensing technologies are interwoven into the physical, economics and social fabric of cities.

A lively debate is already underway in academic, technology, and policy communities on the opportunities these new capabilities are unlocking in the developed world. However, the greatest potential for the future lies in understanding how these technologies can be used to unlock opportunities in the developing world: to stimulate growth, to reduce poverty and to empower marginalized and excluded groups. To maximize the beneficial social impact of these new tools and technologies, it’s clear that increased access and a new technological literacy will be necessary.

To accelerate and inform discussion about the future of cities, information and inclusion, the Institute for the Future is developing a forecast that will map the technology foundations, driving social and economic forces, key tensions, and disruptive intersections over the next decade and beyond. Our research will source foresight from experts on all six continents, across industry, the NGO sector and government.

This map will serve as a baseline forecast for organizations around the world to understand emerging opportunities and trouble spots, and formulate their own strategic actions to shape the future. We hope that this research will inform global thinking about the future of urban development, planning and management.

This research is made possible by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation.