Horizon scanning is the systematic gathering of evidence on future opportunities and threats. RSSB has a three-stage approach to enable the gathering of information and the extraction of value from it.

1. Scan - Capturing early and weak ‘signals’ on the horizon scanning radar

  • Sources currently used: expert judgement, technology news and socio-economic news.   
  • New sources in development: patents, research funding applications and awards, and social media.

2. Quick assessment of the ‘signals’ – Analysing what are the opportunities and threats for rail

  • Underway: Conducting emerging technology analysis  to briefly summarise the key features of the technology, assess its readiness levels, and evaluating its potential application(s) to rail.
  • In development: Conducting trend and disruptor analyses to access the pace and likelihood.

3. Engaging industry on the insights gathered and possible actions, and initiate detailed analysis when required

  • Over the horizon campaigns  linking together different fields of expertise on themes of importance to the industry.
  • Deep-dives on selected topics that warrant further analysis. These could include gap and solution analysis using TRIZ methodologies, and scenario generation.


In the future the activities in development will be brought on line. We also intend to automate part of our horizon scanning process to collect data efficiently and impartially from a wide range of sources, which will inform our analysis activities.

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