Although much of our resilience planning and recovery measures are designed to come from larger federal and state institutions, there is much we can do at the local level to prepare ourselves. An interactive furniture series, Future Vision, increase community resilience by spreading information, awareness and civic collaboration on climate issues in public transit hubs worldwide.

The more information and tools our cities and communities have, the more resilient we become when natural hazards occur. By enhancing existing transit networks, Future Vision provides public forums for learning about and collaborating on adaptive, climate-sensitive adaptation options.

In all models, interactive touch screens are embedded within modular furniture, presenting and collecting information in ways that encourage physical interaction. All models provide charge outlets and wifi, inviting users to linger and absorb more information.

Future Vision provides these tools, increasing community resilience to climate change by spreading information in public transit hubs. By building off existing transit systems, Future Vision accomplishes three important resilience goals:

1. It spreads vital information about climate change. From evacuation routes to maps of flood zones, Future Vision places facts in some of the most public urban places – transit hubs.

2. Future Vision encourages community wide action in dealing with climate hazards. Its digital interface invites users to plan for coming changes, from connecting with other planning-minded people in their area to uploading ideas of actions they’d like to take.

3. Future Vision connects people with their regional resources. Because environmental threats can compromise local support networks, Future Vision enhances connections between local residents and wider regions by spreading information through existing regional transit hubs.


Objectives and beneficiaries

A series of modular add-ons to existing transportation centers become information, data gathering, community outreach, and planning tools, educating users and visitors about what’s going on in their areas, spreading the word about emergency plans before they happen.

Their presence creates a continual conversation about preparedness, vulnerability and options for response. Interactive panels are designed to serve in a range of public transit contexts and locations. In vulnerable areas with little or no existing public transport, Future Vision models can be deployed in other central, public gathering spaces. Solar panels, which are embedded in all Future Vision models, provide on-site power and lighting.

As future conditions are unpredictable and highly difficult to plan for, effective spatial planning strategies – the focus of many existing resilience dialogues – remain challenging to craft and execute. As such, researchers at the forefront of resilience planning are emphatic that the best bet for creating more resilient systems is to focus on social and community planning, enhance our collective capacities for learning, adaptation and self-organization.

The more information we have, the more empowered we become to prepare for, and take care of ourselves. Future Vision can achieve the goal of increasing public understanding and collaboration on climate change issues.

Strong points of the practice

One of Future Vision’s most powerful aspects is that it digitizes the design charrette. Benefits include: expanded horizons for local people to imagine and visualize possibilities and encouragement to active community involvement through immediate feedback processes. Due to costs and time required, however, design charrettes are not always employed.

Future Vision makes the design charrette process digitally available in the public realm. Touch screens are programmed with a suite of educational and opinion gathering steps, taking users through three key design charrette phases:

The “What to Expect?” series presents vital information on local risk and preparedness, identifying areas with the greatest flood risk, liquefaction zones, and existing evacuation plans.

Next is the “What Do You Value?” phase, which asks users to share their personal expertise. Information on local experts, personal priorities, site-based memories and informal neighborhood gathering spaces is assessed and collected for implementation into future planning efforts.

The “What Would You Change?” phase is last, providing users with a space to learn about physical adaptive strategies, find emergency shelters in neighboring regions, and connect with other locals interested in continuing the resilience planning process together. In this phase, is the section where people begin responding to embedded calls to action. Users can connect to existing planning groups in their area and discover more organizations, websites and resources to connect with to continue learning about their local climate vulnerability.

All information that users upload in the “What Do You Value?” and “What Would You Change?” phases is compiled into a database, to which Future Vision provides ongoing and collaborative access.

Expected results and benefits for climate change adaptation and mitigation

By locating these learning-based, data-collection experiences in existing transit hubs, Future Vision models become engaging, publicly accessible ways to inform people about climate change impacts, as well as tools through which users can express their concerns and ideas. In doing so, Future Vision helps communities anticipate, absorb, and reshape in response to the impacts of climate change and its associated natural hazards.

With the Future Vision system, users can find emergency shelters in other cities while they’re waiting for the bus. They can connect with people and community centers in other areas while charging their phones. With Future Vision, the resilience planning process is embedded in the everyday process of walking down the street. Translating facts in ways that invite rather than demand participation is key to spreading awareness & action. As such, embedding projects with whimsy and fun is as important as the data itself.

Data collected from the Future Vision models is made available to regional planning agencies, providing a wealth of valuable information on citizen views on climate change and adaptive strategies. Planned interventions benefit from regular public feedback, ensuring that funding is wisely spent on projects that will benefit those they’re intended to serve.

Collected data likewise helps planners, designers and climate communicators understand more about local communities’ attitudes, preferences, fears and language used to talk about change.

Replicability potential of the practice

Future Vision is designed for deployment in transit hubs across the globe. Its five models accommodate a range of transit spaces & types, applicable in developed and developing countries alike. Where there are existing transit networks and internet access, Future Vision can provide valuable resilience planning services. Digital education experiences are designed to be retrofitted to embrace local language & cultural norms.

The sites chosen thus far are: Delhi, Suva (Fiji), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Salvador (Brazil), and NYC. Aside from NYC, all these areas are examples of developing countries subject to significant climate change impacts, with existing regional transit networks that boast robust local ridership.

Delhi has issues ranging from severe heat waves to serious air pollution. In addition to metro and train systems, Delhi is also serviced by DTC TATA buses, which cater to 60% of the city’s transit demand.
Dar es Salaam, which has serious earthquake & drought risks, is serviced by the Dar Rapid Transit (DART) system.
Regularly plagued with landslides, Salvador has a robust metro system.
Suva, regularly hit by severe hurricanes, has a more informal bus system.
NYC is included because the subway car is used in transit systems across the globe and the city remains relatively unprepared for climate change impacts, as shown by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

[Editor's Note: All information published as submitted by the author(s). Minor edits may have been made to increase readability and understanding.]