Successful scenario planning and visioning are reliant on the data we use.
Finding the right data sets, managing those data sets, and using them appropriately with the right tools is akin to any other trade: gardening, construction, carpentry, etc. The quality of the product and our ability to communicate effectively depends on the effective management and use of data.
Key data sets for scenario planning relate to the environment, community, and economics. More specifically, one may need data on demographics (population projections, household size, etc.); environmental constraints (wetlands, waterways, steep slopes, soil type, etc.); housing/land use (parcel data, assessor's data, housing surveys, census information, land-use and zoning); transportation (travel patterns, transportation infrastructure, and traffic reports); political boundaries (cities, towns, counties, state and federal lands, etc.), economy (employment, wages, productivity and business, etc.) and educational information (educational attainment and access, etc.). The data needed in the process is dependent on the issues a community or region wants to explore and measure.
Relevant data can be obtained from many sources, including zoning regulations, design manuals, adopted plans, traffic data and existing models, census information, nationally or regionally available data sets, and satellite and remote sensing imagery. Market research studies can also be a useful source of information. They can help to assess current conditions and understand how projected future demands fit in with overall regional goals. In some cases, substantial field work might be required to compile or refine data.
As this information is compiled, a complete picture of recent trends and current conditions becomes apparent and provides the needed information to begin constructing a "baseline" projection. Some of this data can be used to create a narrative about a community or region's past and likely future. Other data is spatial in nature (real estate development, transportation, environmental impacts) and can be used to create a baseline map illustrating a projection of recent trends onto a landscape.