Nov 22, 2011

How reliable are socio-economic future projections?

By - Anoop Jha

There are always some uncertainties of projections in planning process.

While preparing vision and development plans, planners heavily depends on socio-economic projections short to medium and long term. Based on such projections development plans are proposed for a region or a city, both strategic as well as physical plan. It is an effort to look into the future and plan according to that. For regional vision plan these projections are based on analyzing voluminous amount of social and economic data of the region collected over long period time and referring to survey data archive, which shed some light on decades of  growth pattern of the region. For urban and regional projects, projections are made based on samples collected over relatively shorter period of time.

There are number of theories, school of thoughts, methods and simulation tools which have evolved in course of time for the socio economic projection. Data gathering process are becoming more and more efficient, Simulation tools are getting faster and efficient as well capable of handling large amount of data in no time, Still there is an uncertainty of projections in current planning projections. Future Projections are as accurate and reliable as its tools are i.e. gathered data, sample questionnaires, size of sample, hetroginicity of sample, inclusiveness of sample, simulation tools- software & Computers,  apart from that there are  other factors like willingness and efficiency of of consultants/ surveying agencies responsible for the outcome, human error, time constraint, political influence. Under so many of environmental influences future projections are bound to be hazy, hence there should be certain provisions of  compensatory flexibility both in terms of tangible and intangible inputs in the planning model, especially in physical planning and development plans, to make plans as realistic and as accommodative and future proof as possible.

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1 comment:

Marc said...

Anoop,
I would introduce myself as a planning professional. I have done Masters of Science in Urban and Regional Planning from a USA university and currently working as Master Planner/Urban Planner with a Chicago based firm and currently working on Master Plan/Urban Design on few green filed cities in India. I was just going through the web and found your blog interesting.
There are several factors affects planning process as a whole. The whole process involves peoples, organisations with various vested interests. I think as planners we heavily depends on the data. We should be sensitive enough to see the future and what we make as a plan should be implementable. Feel of the region or area for which we are preparing a Regional Plan or urban development plan is very important. There should be enough space to given to these feeling and sensitivity while preparing the plan. We generally don’t address few points one could have seen with the naked eye but given data doest speak it. I think it’s up to the professional planner how to do it not up to the politicians or bureaucrats.

Best
Marc