Proof is in the Pages: Who else is looking at the trends in the Next Big Things

In this series we will provide snippets and links to secondary sources that focus on the trends highlighted in the Next Big Things report. In this article, we dive into some of the trends under the Resource force, offering insight from others on the potential impacts.

ARTICLE | Oct 2, 2015

What are the Next Big Things facing local government? The Alliance for Innovation's the Next Big Things report highlights 44 trends within four forces -- Resource, Technology, Demographics, and Governance -- that could impact how local government operates in the next generation. Relying on the expertise of primary author Rebecca Ryan, engaging in an exhaustive literatary scan, and a delphi panel of subject matter experts, the report provides detailed information on the four forces and 44 trends (view the trends slide deck), challenging us to look beyond the horizon and imagine our communities one generation from now.

As you read through the report (visit the NBT page to download the free version and get the premium version), how do you envision using the Next Big Things? What trends are already impacting your community or have you started actively planning for? Tell us in the comment section below, by joining the Next Big Things KN Group, tweeting @transformgov using #NBT, or emailing us at

Periodically we will be providing resources from people and organizations unaffiliated with the Alliance or the Next Big Things project. This first installment focuses on a few of the trends within the Resource force. While the articles below only scratch the surface of certain trends, they do reinforce the realities and tangible repercussions each trend could have and hopefully serve as another spark to help your community think about how to become #futureready as you explore the Next Big Things.


Trend 1) Climate Change

What Utah's Flash Floods Say About the Western U.S.'s Drought-filled Future

"Flash floods aren’t uncommon in the Beehive State. But storms like Tuesday’s are indicative of more intense, less frequent downpours that Utah—and virtually all of the West—can continue to expect because of climate change. Though rainstorms in any form might seem like a good thing for arid states, severe flash floods are actually part and parcel with the drier future the West faces. Right now, most of Utah is suffering from moderate to severe drought." Read the full article...

Trend 2) Food Insecurity

Shift to Food Insecurity Creates Startling Picture of Hunger in America

"In June [of 2014], Gregory and two colleagues published a report about food insecurity in postrecession America, listing the three biggest predictors. The first was unemployment and a sheer lack of income: If you don't have a job, you're more likely to lack food.

But the next two predictors of food insecurity were variations on the theme of low wages. One was inflation, which in this context means the failure of wages to keep up with the cost of living. The other was rising food prices. Indeed, even though more people had jobs, food prices rose enough that they couldn't necessarily buy more food with their wages." Read the entire article...

Trend 3) Water Shortage and Access

Will Canada export its fresh water or will the US just take it?

"Michelle Nijhuis titles a post The Forgotten Project That Could Have Saved America From Drought. She describes the huge international plumbing job in the subhead:

'The North American Water and Power Alliance was an audacious proposal to divert water to parched western states that would have cost hundreds of billions of dollars and pissed off Canada. But what if it had worked?'

It indeed was audacious, and has not been forgotten; I wondered about it last year in Will the next war with Canada be a fight over water?" Read the full article...

Lake Powell's receeding waters show risk of US 'megadrought'

"But a severe drought in recent years, combined with the tapping of the lake's water at what many consider to be an unsustainable level, has reduced [Lake Powell's] levels to only about 42 percent of its capacity, according to the U.S. space agency NASA.

[S]ince 2012, snow and rainfall totals have been abnormally low as the region suffered persistent drought." Read the full article...

Trend 4) Energy Grid Disruption

The Electric Grid: 2030

"The largest threat to Grid reliability comes from extreme weather. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) reports that weather-related outages have increased significantly since 1992 and that 58% of the electricity outages observed since 2002 were caused by extreme weather." Read the report...

In the next installment of Proof is in the Pages: Who else is looking at the trends in the Next Big Things, we will highlight articles, reports, and more focusing on some of the trends within the Technology force.

In the meantime, we really do want to hear from you: send us any articles on the trends you have come across, let us know what trends are affecting or going to affect your community, or how you are becoming future ready! Drop us a line in the comment section below, by joining the Next Big Things KN Group, tweeting @transformgov using #NBT, or emailing us at

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