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Intelligent Buildings

Increasingly smart, better connected, self-monitoring homes and offices provide safer, more secure, low energy consumption buildings able to self-manage heating, lighting, security and air-flow

One of the much discussed, but yet to be realised, dreams for architects, engineers and progressive developers in the idea of the zero-waste, zero-energy building: One which, in use, has zero net energy consumption and zero carbon emissions. As, operation accounts for 85% of the total whole-life energy consumption and buildings account for the majority of global CO2 emissions, this would be a big step forward. Alongside the design of an office, home or factory, and the materials used in its construction, a pivotal enabling issue in this aspiration is the idea of having intelligent buildings – ones which adopt low and high tech methods to ensure optimum management of resource. With major advances taking place across the ICT field, increased integration of control systems and, in some markets, regulations for the roll-out of smart meter systems, all the ingredients for the high tech option are coming into place. With several countries such as South Korea taking the lead, smart homes that control energy, ventilation, communication services and so on are starting to be built. By 2020, many see that the  majority of new buildings being constructed around the world, and many that are being refurbished, will be increasingly intelligent and so provide a big push towards the zero energy building that so many are aiming for. Read more

Popularity: 4% [?]

Credible Sources

With greater information overload we will shift our focus from simply accessing the data to also include the source of real insight to distinguish what we trust

As connectivity increases and the information being generated around the world rises, many of us will be faced with ever more data, insight and comment that we will have to try to make sense of. As was highlighted repeatedly in the programme, “the biggest challenge is simply to manage the huge amount of data out there.” Many see that we already have too much data, are too dependent on information and this prevents us making decisions: “Too much reliance on data to guide our views has meant that we have lost intuition. Going forward we need to rise above the mass of information so that once again we can make more focused decisions.” Read more

Popularity: 2% [?]

Electric Mobility

With France and Germany taking the initial lead roles, in parallel with the electrification of public transport, electric cars take off and form over 10% of the world’s vehicle fleet by 2020

It is has been a long time coming, but 13 years after the global launch of the Toyota Prius hybrid, a host of companies have all electric vehicles slated for launch over the next few years. The alignment of technology development, targeted incentives and economies of scale together with a fundamental change in consumer sentiment has started the ball rolling towards a future where electric mobility has a significant role in global transportation. By 2020, experts predict that nearly a third of all cars being sold will be electric and that electric cars will form over 10% of the world’s vehicle fleet. Read more

Popularity: 27% [?]

Seamless Media Consumption

Multiple media sources are instantly integrated at the point of consumption to provide us with continual, enhanced and immersive access to tailored, bite-sized content

How we access and consume information has undergone rapid change over the past few years. The rise of platforms including Google, You Tube, Netflix, Facebook,Twitter and the BBC iPlayer as well as the introduction of new devices such as net-books, IPTV, the iPhone and the iPad have all fundamentally affected how many of us now use and interact with media. Given that all of these appeared in the last decade, as we look forward to 2020, many expect even greater change as the acceleration of new technologies increases. Read more

Popularity: 2% [?]

Local Currency

The revitalisation of bartering, decreased trust in banks and increasing avoidance of higher taxation broadens the adoption of alternative stores of value for trade in regional and virtual communities

Allied to the changing role of money globally, several commentators see a rise in the wider adoption of what have been labelled as local currencies. Over the next decade, more people will probably prefer to use more regional, local or even personal currencies. Local currencies have been attracting a lot of attention and there is history in this space ranging from Local Exchange Trading Systems, frequently derided as ‘babysitting tokens’, to Time Banks and so on. However, the next generation of money may be more about so called ‘alternative currency’ rather than a return to the approaches of the past.

There have been many variants of local currencies within specific areas for some time but most of these have been limited in terms of scalability. For example, Disney Dollar banknotes are issued and accepted in Disney theme parks and carry pictures of characters including Mickey Mouse, Pluto and Goofy. In South Korea, Samsung employees have also been partially paid in the form of company currency which can be spent in Samsung owned stores. Equally but less officially, within prisons cigarettes have been a long standing form of currency. Read more

Popularity: 1% [?]


With diabetes consuming 5% of GDP and 25% healthcare budgets, a combination of fat taxation, patient data mining and individual healthcare costs all play a role in stabilising the obesity epidemic

Diabetes is the world’s most costly epidemic. Over the next ten years there will be an increasing number of technical solutions to help manage the condition but few expect this to counter its  growth, particularly the escalation of Type 2 diabetes which is mostly caused by a high-calorie diet and sedentary lifestyle . If governments and public healthcare systems are to manage the direct and indirect costs, significant behaviour changing actions are critical. Read more

Popularity: 2% [?]

Dense Cities

As urban migration increases, efficient, densely populated cities are the blueprints for more sustainable places to live rather than distributed options like Houston and Mexico City

Historian Tristram Hunt commented early on via the Future Agenda programme blog that “we are currently living through one of the great eras of urbanisation with the great megalopolises of China, Africa, India and South America assuming the cultural and economic dominance which Berlin, Rome, Moscow and London used to enjoy in the 19th and 20th centuries.” He sees that “after a decade of unprecedented urbanisation and industrialisation, China’s cities now resemble the nightmare metropolises of mid-19th century Britain. Accounts of the pollution, ill-health, and overcrowding in Nanjing or Chengdu eerily recall the worst excesses of 1840s Manchester or Glasgow.” But at the same time, the same cities will offer the opportunity to meet the challenges of rapid urbanisation as “many of them also provide the seeds for solving our climate crisis. For the world’s developed cities are coming under increasing pressure from their informed, engaged citizenry to mitigate their environmental impact. And they also contain the technical and innovative capacity to address the problem. So, Berlin has managed to cuts its carbon emissions by 15% and Toronto by some 40% over the last fifteen years. In London, Ken Livingstone successfully developed a pioneering climate change strategy which led to a 19% drop in C02 emissions from traffic inside the congestion charge zone.” Read more

Popularity: 34% [?]

Corporate LEGO

With more free agents and outsourcing, non-core functions within organisations are increasingly interchangeable and so more easily rebuilt around the value creating units

Organisations have already started to be more permeable and flexible. Increasing use of consultants, free-lancers and other temporary staff has blurred the boundary between employee and contractor in many large companies. In addition, the outsourcing of such functions as IT, HR, finance and other so called ‘back-office’ jobs, often to different countries, has saved money but also increased the complexity of the organisational framework. While many companies today still see themselves as entities with employees in control of a wide range of value creating and support activities, by the end of the decade more and more organisations will be networks. Read more

Popularity: 3% [?]

Clean Shipping

Under increasing pressure to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiency, freight shipping increasingly adopts a range of alternative power systems from nuclear and bio-fuels to sail

Shipping already accounts for nearly 4.5% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and, as the volume of global trade continues to grow, this proportion is also set to rise. According to the UN, annual emissions of the world’s merchant fleets tops 1.2bn tonnes of CO2, twice that of the aviation sector. While planes and cars have been a common focus in the popular media, in the think tanks, transport forums and their like around the world, ships have been rising up the agenda. Not surprisingly then, this is now a growing concern for many governments seeking to make steps to reduce not only CO2 emissions but also other environmental impacts such as waste contamination. So, as a result, people turning to the concept of clean shipping and the benefits that it can potentially provide. Read more

Popularity: 3% [?]

Live Experiences

The role of live activities and experiences in an increasingly virtual and isolated world becomes more important to create moments for deeper, richer connections and social bonding between people

Being part of the moment has always been special. A major international event such as the moon landing or on a more personal level a family wedding have been times when people want to collectively come together as part of the live experience. There is arguably nothing new in this and, in many ways, being part of an event has been steadily growing in line with TV access for many years. However, as more of us live alone and many work alone, we are, on average, spending less time interacting with others. Moving forward as virtual connections become more common than real ones, the opportunities to be part of something and a moment in time will become increasingly important. Media companies are placing ever more focus on live events, music festivals and shows are enjoying increased popularity and informal gatherings in general are on the rise. By 2020, many see that live experiences will be increasingly valued and important to us as common touch points in our lives. Read more

Popularity: 1% [?]

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