Horizon scanning and impact studies

Horizon scanning – the tracking of pertinent developments that appear on the horizon – is important for the drinking water sector because it identifies those future technological, ecological, economic and societal developments that might have an impact on the sector, and the issues resulting from these developments for which deeper research within BTO is warranted.

Through horizon scanning, we give concrete form to the BTO’s ‘eyes and ears’ function. Besides knowledge questions, trends can also present direct opportunities and threats to the water companies. In either case, it is important that the changes be signalled early on, so that the drinking water sector can optimally adjust to them. By enabling decision-makers and agenda setters to make strategic choices for the medium term (5-10 years), we want to ensure that the water sector is well prepared for the future.

In this project we collect information, both national and international, about trends of relevance for the water sector and translate them into possible opportunities and risks for water companies. We indicate the significance of the trends that could, over the next two years, become important for water company decision-makers and BTO agenda setters.

Trend watching, impact analysis and impact studies

The Horizon Project consists of a number of activities: trend watching, impact analysis and impact studies. Trend alerts are issued, and the impact of trends on the water sector determined. For trends that are relevant, the strategic options for water companies are defined by means of an impact study.

The horizon scanners participate in various national and international futures research networks, allowing them to benefit from available information on developments (e.g., planning agency scenarios) and methods. They also carry out research to remain up to date about suitable futures research methods, and to operationalize the latest theories in the form of tools (methodology development). The idea is to translate this experience-based knowledge into usable instruments for strategists and decision-makers at water companies.

Trend alerts, issue list, impact study

This project’s deliverables are:

  1. Trend alerts which describe the important societal and technological developments, and what the resulting opportunities and threats might be for the water companies.
  2. An issue list with new questions for BTO programming.
  3. An impact study consisting of an alert (in animation form), an analysis and recommendations.