Learning With The Future

2022 Trend Report for Planners

Cover of 2022 Trend Report for Planners

APA Foresight

The 2022 Trend Report for Planners, developed in partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, features nearly 100 existing, emerging, and potential future trends that APA identified as relevant to planning. The trends are structured within three timeframes (Act Now, Prepare, Learn and Watch), which indicate the urgency of planners' action.

What is APA Foresight?

The accelerated pace of change we experience in areas such as technological innovation, societal shifts, and climate change makes for a mind-bending task to prepare for disruption.

That's where we come in. APA Foresight is about understanding drivers of change that are outside of our control, how we can prepare for them, and when it is time to act. APA Foresight identifies emerging trends and how scenarios stemming from each may impact the world, our communities, and the planning profession in years to come.

The path forward requires adjusting, adapting, and even reinventing planning processes, tools, and skills to meet the needs of a changing world. Through APA's foresight practice planners will find support, training, and new research for making sense of the ever-changing future. For more on how planners can use a foresight approach in their own work, visit APA's latest issue of PAS Quicknotes: Planning with Foresight.

Jump to Foresight Findings

The future of planning is agile, people-centric, and technologically advanced

Adding Depth and Insights: The Future of Planning

Five trend categories are at the foundation of APA's foresight research. Through these five categories, APA connects emerging trends and potential future trends to planning (sense-making) and creates guidance on how planners can get future-ready (meaning-making).

To understand what trends planners will need to learn about and prepare for, we rate and prioritize them based on the extent and severity of the expected impact and potential disruption, the estimated certainty of their occurrence, and how well planners are prepared for them.

What skills will planners need to navigate a rapidly changing world? What knowledge is required to ensure an equitable future?What role will planners play in their communities? How will emerging trends contribute to changes in the communities we serve, the built environment, nature, and society as a whole? How will these drivers of change impact planning processes and the tools planners use in their daily work?

These are the types of questions APA is asking as part of our foresight approach.

From Sense-Making to Meaning-Making

All Foresight Resources

Our Latest Work


Practical Guidance

Articles and viewpoints

AI in Planning: Why Now Is the Time

Artificial intelligence is headed to a planning organization near you. In this article, Tom Sanchez, chair of APA's Education Committee and a member of APA's AI Foresight Community, explores recent survey results on the potential role of AI in planning, and what AI might mean for the future of the profession.

Demystifying Artificial Intelligence in Planning

Could urban planners use AI technologies to benefit the communities they serve? How do planners ensure the use of AI will lead to more equitable outcomes? Hannah Shumway and Trey Gordner explore these questions and more in this blog post about the growing ubiquity of AI in our society, and the potential this uncertain frontier may hold for planners and cities today and into the future.

Smart Cities — Integrating Technology, Community, and Nature

The digital era has arrived, and with it the digital transformation of cities and communities. In this blog post, APA Research Director Petra Hurtado, PhD, outlines the planner's role in fostering innovation, collaboration, and participatory co-creation in ensuring that smart cities are equitable, resilient, and sustainable places for all.

Coming Soon(ish): 6 Planning Trends on APA's Watchlist

From 3D printing to noise-canceling buildings, emerging trends point to a future of rapid change. In this article, Petra Hurtado, PhD, APA's Research Director, and APA Research Associate Alexsandra Gomez explore six of these trends and what they might mean for the future of our communities.

Artificial Intelligence and Urban Planning: What Planners Need to Know Now

AI is already affecting people and their communities in countless ways. In this podcast, APA Research Director Petra Hurtado, PhD, leads a discussion with AI experts Neda Madi and Tom Sanchez on why planners need to understand the short- and long-term ramifications of artificial intelligence on our cities and the profession.

Created in partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

7 Trends Knocking at the Planning Office Door

In today's complex world, balancing everyday activities, near-term plans, and visioning for the future is more challenging than ever. In this article, Petra Hurtado, PhD, APA's Research Director, and APA Research Associate Alexsandra Gomez explore the seven most pressing trends for the profession today, and what these trends mean for the future of planning.

Digitalization and Implications for Planning

One of the most notable impacts on planning from the COVID-19 pandemic is the rapid shift away from the use of physical spaces and toward digital and virtual spaces. The groundwork for these shifts however, have been developing for decades. In this blog post, APA research managers Joe DeAngelis and Sagar Shah identify some of the broader societal trends in "digitalization," and explore their potential implications for planning.

The Future of Planning Is Agile, People-centric, and Technologically Advanced

For planners to be well-equipped for an unknowable future, we must focus on the areas with both the potential for high impact on the profession and low preparedness in the planning community. In this article, Petra Hurtado, PhD, APA's Research Director, explores the patterns revealed and the agility and technological innovation planners need.

Created in partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

Why Planners Need to Prepare for Urban Air Mobility

By 2028, urban air mobility is likely to be a commercially viable market for air metro services in the U.S. In this podcast episode, APA talks with Heather Sauceda Hannon, AICP, of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and Ric Stephens of NV5 about why it is so important for planners to prepare for this emerging transportation system.

Created in partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.

COVID-19, Communities, and the Planning Profession

APA research director Petra Hurtado, PhD, examines how we at APA are approaching the questions of what the impacts on cities and communities are and how this pandemic affects the planning profession.

Flying Taxis Are Coming and Communities Need to Prepare

Tech companies say they could launch advanced air mobility vehicles within this decade, but urban and rural policy is lagging behind.

What Planners and Public Sector Agencies Need to Know About Cybersecurity

With millions across the country now working remotely to curb the spread of COVID-19, cybersecurity and data protection issues are top of mind for just about everyone. In this podcast episode, APA researcher, Jo Pena talks with Nupur Gunjan, a public sector analyst at Cisco about what should planners do to make sure their agency's data and communications are safe.


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APA's foresight research is made possible in part through our partnership with the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy.