Web‐based horizon scanning: concepts and practice

Marco A. Palomino (European Centre for Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter, Truro, UK, and in the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Westminster, London, UK)
Sarah Bardsley (Environment Agency, Bristol, UK)
Kevin Bown (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, UK)
Jennifer De Lurio (Environment Agency, Bristol, UK)
Peter Ellwood (Futures Team, Health and Safety Laboratory, Buxton, UK)
David Holland‐Smith (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, UK)
Bob Huggins (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Plymouth, UK)
Alexandra Vincenti (Lloyd's of London, London, UK)
Harry Woodroof (Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, UK)
Richard Owen (Business School, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Publication date: 24 August 2012



In this review, the aim is first to define horizon scanning and then outline the general approach currently employed by many organisations using web‐based resources. It then aims to discuss the benefits and drivers of horizon scanning, to identify some organisations currently undertaking activities in the field, and explain in detail how the web‐based horizon scanning approach is implemented. The aim is then to conclude with a discussion of good practice and areas for further research.


The basis for this review is a symposium held at the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in March 2010, where groups undertaking horizon scanning activities shared practices and reviewed the state of the art. Practitioners from both public sector and private organisations attending this symposium, as well as others, were invited to contribute to the manuscript, developing this as an iterative exercise over the last year.


Structured processes of web‐based horizon scanning, underpinned by strong technical understanding and principles of good practice described in the review, can add significant value to organisational decision making.


While a growing number of private and public sector organisations have already embarked on the use of the web as a key information resource, no detailed explanation of the web‐based horizon scanning approach has been published. The review therefore makes an original contribution to this field, with collaborations by horizon scanning practitioners, discussing what constitutes good practice and highlighting areas where future research is needed.



Palomino, M., Bardsley, S., Bown, K., De Lurio, J., Ellwood, P., Holland‐Smith, D., Huggins, B., Vincenti, A., Woodroof, H. and Owen, R. (2012), "Web‐based horizon scanning: concepts and practice", Foresight, Vol. 14 No. 5, pp. 355-373. https://doi.org/10.1108/14636681211269851

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