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Foresight in cities: on the possibility of a “strategic urban intelligence”

Joe Ravetz (Centre for Urban Resilience and Energy, School of Environment and Development, The University of Manchester, Manchester, UK)
Ian Douglas Miles (Research Laboratory for Economics of Innovations, Institute for Statistical Studies and Economics of Knowledge, National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russian Federation)


ISSN: 1463-6689

Article publication date: 12 September 2016




This paper aims to review the challenges of urban foresight via an analytical method: apply this to the city demonstrations on the UK Foresight Future of Cities: and explore the implications for ways forward.


The methodology is based on the principles of co-evolutionary complex systems, a newly developed toolkit of “synergistic mapping and design”, and its application in a “synergy foresight” method.


The UK Foresight Future of Cities is work in progress, but some early lessons are emerging – the need for transparency in foresight method – and the wider context of strategic policy intelligence.

Practical implications

The paper has practical recommendations, and a set of propositions, (under active discussion in 2015), which are based on the analysis.


The paper aims to demonstrate an application of “synergy foresight” with wide benefits for cities and the communities within them.



The authors would like to acknowledge the support of the UK Government Office of Science “Foresight on the Future of Cities” programme, for the initiatives on the Future of Cities Academic Network, and the GM 2040. Ian Miles’ contribution to this article was prepared within the framework of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and supported within the framework of a subsidy by the Russian Academic Excellence Project “5-I00”. The text on “Synergistics” and the synergistic toolkit is based on material posted on the website, for which access we are grateful.


Ravetz, J. and Miles, I.D. (2016), "Foresight in cities: on the possibility of a “strategic urban intelligence”", Foresight, Vol. 18 No. 5, pp. 469-490.



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