Predicting the future is a unique challenge, often fraught with uncertainty and ultimately failure. The concepts behind strategic planning as both a practical and theoretical exercise attempt to define a point in time into the future from which strategies and tactics can be derived. Whether with a vision, a set of goals and objectives, or a series of clearly defined outcomes, the underlying challenge remains the same – as humans, we are historically bad at forecasting what might occur over very long time horizons with any sense of precision or accuracy.
This uncertainty makes answering questions like “what might the future of Communications, Navigation, and Surveillance hold in 20 years” extremely difficult. And yet, this is an important question. Investments made in the public sector over the next five years will have a strong influence over what is possible by 2040 or 2045. As we have seen, there are even now emerging trends that start to suggest the future of the NAS in 20 years could be very different from what we see today. These differences could include:
- The emergence of unmanned systems and gradual introduction of Unmanned Traffic Management (UTM)
- The role of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and smart systems that become increasingly connected, increasingly independent, and increasingly adaptable with less human intervention
- The increased prevalence and capability of assets in space, and the potential role of commercial entities taking an increased role in the provision of global CNS capabilities
- The evolution of regulatory and certification strategies associated with an increasingly open, complex, multi-model transportation network of air, ground, and even space travel
- The role of cybersecurity in specialized, historically ‘closed’ air traffic systems that are likely to become increasingly connected, open, and distributed
- The role of space operations beyond the provision of communications services and into new service areas
While the pace of innovation and technology advancement in the private sector is as fast as it has ever been, the ability of the Aviation community to integrate those advancements safely and effectively into the NAS moves in a much more measured manner.
Solution Generating at ICNS
At The Integrated Communications Navigation and Surveillance (ICNS) Conference, we will be applying a modified version of scenario planning to elicit from workshop participants what the future of CNS might hold. To create a unique and interactive experience, we want to let people determine for themselves what possibilities could exist across a range of future options. Each scenario will characterize basic geographic, environmental, economic, political, and technological parameters in the US and around the globe, and each scenario will be quite different. In small groups, participants will engage with the series of scenarios. They will both create original ideas as well as interact with the ideas of others, and ultimately allow us to collectively gather the input of nearly 200 participants in real-time. This exercise can better crowd-source the collective experience and industry analysis in a very short amount of time allowing us to organize and analyze those insights into a thoughtful view of what these future scenarios could hold.
Why should you join us for Scenario Planning?
Insights, observations, and commentary from the workshop will identify common themes where different risks (to be mitigated) or opportunities (to be exploited) may exist. Areas of overlap across multiple scenarios may suggest themes that have value for deeper consideration across a range of future options or alternatives. The information and data gathered during the workshop will be translated into a paper Evans Incorporated and George Mason University will publish jointly to help everyone see the collective views generated at the workshop.
In that paper, we will also explore what it takes to more fully consider and implement some of the ideas that were generated, and what it could mean for the longer-term benefit of CNS and the broader Aerospace industry. Evans Incorporated’s unique approach to strategy and innovation is differentiated by its emphasis on the people that comprise organizations, from executives in the board room to practitioners in the field. A strategic plan is just a document until all key stakeholders are engaged to transform their organization into its future vision. This human-centered approach to strategy will be central to our exploration of the implications of the concepts generated at this year’s ICNS workshop.
Come join us April 10-12th in Herndon, Va as we develop the future of communications, navigation, and surveillance at ICNS! Visit https://i-cns.org/ to register.