THE FUTURE: Chris Henry talks about the next 30 years

Thirty years is a significant milestone for any company and at FHI we’re already thinking ahead to the next 30. What will our communities look like in the future, and how can we as planners help our communities work toward their own, unique visions? Change may be a constant, but the increasing pace of change is forcing planners and policymakers to be more nimble and less dependent on standard operating procedure.

Urban centers are experiencing a resurgence, climate change is reshaping the built environment, mobile technology is the new interface to goods and services, and owning a car is no longer every teenager’s dream. It once took an earthquake to take down urban highways; now it’s happening through civic willpower and agencies hearing a call for change.

We face challenges, too. Car-free living is appealing to more people, yet transit, walking and bicycling are not universally embraced as viable solutions. In major cities like New York, transportation networking companies provide more travel options and flexibility, but are adding to congestion, not solving it. There is some urgency for a reboot of the traditional planning approaches to something other than automobile-centric planning. At FHI, we increasingly see information as a core component of choice, and the information sector is changing transportation like never before.

In our daily work we’re charting our own course, leading the way in innovative public involvement, strategic transportation projects, and innovative land use plans. Our staff are using technology and ingenuity to create custom solutions for our clients, from virtual workshops, to online analysis tools, to homegrown mobile apps for geo-referenced data collection. Above all, we’re problem solvers, and we embrace challenging projects as often the most interesting and rewarding in the end.

As the pace of technological innovation increases and exerts new, often unforeseen pressures on our communities, we’re helping our clients see the big picture and plan ahead, while staying true to their values and ours. We can’t predict the future, but we strongly believe that smart planning that focuses on people and creating better communities will always be the way forward.