What is Horizon Scanning?
It is often hard to think about the future. It is impossible to predict it with perfect accuracy. However, a lot of what government does has impacts that last for many years. So it is essential that government policy is produced in a way that accounts for unavoidable uncertainties that come from looking ahead.
This is where horizon scanning can be of great help. Horizon scanning assesses the information available about future trends and explores the range of potential futures that may result. Using this analysis helps policy makers to get a richer, more informed view about the future, and build that into their plans.
Why this is useful
Horizon scanning helps the government to make informed decisions about the long-term. The techniques of horizon scanning can help analyse whether the government is adequately prepared for potential opportunities and threats, and ensure that policies are resilient to future environments defined by social trends or new technologies. It can also help inform spending choices that will have ramifications for many years.
Who we are
The Horizon Scanning Programme Team is a joint team, bringing together members of the Cabinet Office Analysis and Insight Team and the Government Office for Science. The team was created in March 2014, after the Cabinet Office’s Horizon Scanning Secretariat merged with the Government Office of Science’s Horizon Scanning Centre; combining our respective expertise and networks.
What we do
The majority of government departments carry out horizon scanning research. The Horizon Scanning Programme Team’s role is to join up this analysis and ensure it is refined by insight from experts within and outside government. We act as a centre of horizon scanning expertise, our ultimate objective being to ensure that horizon scanning is embedded into policy making.
What you can expect from this blog
We will use this blog to provide updates in horizon scanning across government. We will write about horizon scanning analysis we’re working on, interesting research carried out by horizon scanners outside the UK government and horizon scanning events. We welcome feedback, and encourage you to comment on blog posts, ask us questions and point to other topics that would also be of interest to policy makers considering the long-term.