August 9, 2012 — There are different ways to produce a socio-economic forecast. Some forecasters rely on complicated technology and have an attitude like, “If my computer model doesn’t match the reality, the reality must be wrong!” Others do it by skillful negotiations with the stakeholders by emphasizing personal knowledge (or “educated guess”) and “visioning.” Here at SEMCOG we try very hard to strike a balance between the science and the art of forecasting.
We employ some of the most advanced models. The REMI model is the most widely applied regional economic forecasting and policy analysis tool in the nation. The team that runs the REMI model has nearly 30 years of experience using models to assess projects for several state government agencies in Michigan, for developing state budgets, and estimating infrastructure needs, etc. The UrbanSim model is arguably the most comprehensive land use model for small area forecasting. SEMCOG is one of the most advanced users of the UrbanSim model since 2000.
We have a great forecast advisory committee, led by an elected official, consisting of leading experts in the region on economics, demographics, and urban planning. We held a series of community review meetings in the forecast process. Besides census data, we used detailed local data from a wide range sources such as parcel files, assessing data, master plans, sewer maps, and building permits. We also actively sought local knowledge and visions to incorporate into the forecast. Based on the review by communities, advisory committee members, and SEMCOG staff, forecast numbers were revised and improved. The collaboration among staff, communities, and consultants is a way to balance the art and science of forecasting for producing a better forecast.
SEMCOG’s 2040 forecast results can be accessed at http://www.semcog.org/RegionalForecast.aspx.
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