Internet of Things and Enhanced Connectivity



Number of people predicted to be using the internet by next year - half of them by mobile devices

Amount of data the world uses every two days - roughly the same amount used during the 6,000 years before 2003

We can expect:

  • Increased need for real-time information to make decisions, including the development of algorithms that support automation.
  • People will be more connected in every aspect of life.  More connectivity means more prediction modeling of the future.
  • New expectations of privacy and security as more real-time user information is collected, analyzed, packaged and sold to consumers, businesses and governments.
  • Connectivity will define the 21st century, making possible everything from long-distance medical care to vehicle automation to the 3D printing of homes.
  • Individuals and businesses without access in a connected economy could be left behind without support. This could exacerbate poverty and increase social and economic isolation.

Advancements in materials science, connectivity and computer design platforms are helping to accelerate automation, artificial intelligence and 3D printing beyond industrial uses and into people’s daily lives.  This trend will substantially change all supportive sectors of the industrial economy and nearly every portion of the consumer market worldwide.  Everything from clothing to commercial office buildings will be able to be, in whole or in part, 3D printed and automated. Machine learning will be able to identify usage patterns and adjust to demand in real time. Automated vehicles already exist and rapid advancements are occuring that will substantially change how people, goods and services are moved. All of these innovations are built on artificial intelligence and machine learning, pillars of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

Automation, Artificial Intelligence and 3D Printing

We can expect:


of the global workforce will need to change occupations by 2030

  • 3D printers and artificial intelligence-driven systems will replace some of today’s workers, but some jobs will adapt and some new jobs will be created to meet the needs of a more technologically advanced society.
  • The current workforce—white, gray and blue collar—will need to retrain to perform the jobs of tomorrow as 8-9% of today’s jobs won’t exist by 2030.
  • Preparing education, government, manufacturing and retail institutions for the disruptive shift in jobs and the skills needed to fill them will be critical.
  • Schools and training centers at all levels will need to shift focus to advanced mathematics, critical thinking and analysis, coding, machine learning, post-processing, computer-assisted design, artificial intelligence and other technological skills.
  • Planning, zoning and land development regulation changes in almost every community will be needed in the coming decades to repurpose warehousing facilities, retail businesses and other building spaces made obsolete by the “on-demand” nature of 3D printing.
  • Building code and permitting requirements will need to evolve to accommodate 3D printed homes, automated building systems and increased electrical demand.
  • Through 3D printing and artificial intelligence, the cost and time it takes to build homes, bridges and even roads could decline, creating benefits and negative consequences that must be handled through a sea change in zoning, subdivision and land development regulations and funding mechanisms at the local, state and federal levels.


  • People will work longer and our perception of work will change.
  • Changing jobs and careers at mid and later life will become common.
  • Filling job vacancies becomes more difficult as workplace tenure declines.
  • Employer and employee expectations will change as the burden of healthcare, lessened tenure and retirement benefits increases.
  • New consumer and service businesses will emerge.
  • Demand will shift to accommodate the needs of an older consumer base.
  • We will need more housing with access to multiple modes of travel.
  • Semi-assisted and assisted-living needs will increase.

Advances in medical technologies will help everyone understand our bodies and how they can be modified to live longer, healthier lives.

Living Longer

We can expect:

79-80 Years

Is the life expectancy in the region today. Some predict that the people entering the workforce today will be likely to live into their 90s and 100s


The Lehigh Valley and nation have been becoming more diverse for decades. The Lehigh Valley minority population has more than doubled since 1990. People from a variety of cultures, backgrounds and identities will continue to join the Lehigh Valley family.

We can expect:

  • Increased number of languages spoken. More bilingual and trilingual people. Nearly 29,000 Lehigh Valley residents speak Spanish as a first language and live in 55 out of 62 of the region’s municipalities. Additionally, Arabic, Chinese (all), Vietnamese, Polish, Gujarati, Italian, German, Portuguese, French, African and other Indic languages are spoken. More than 41,000 Valley residents have limited English proficiency. That number is projected to quadruple in less than four decades.
  • As cultural activity options grow, the number of culture-based opportunities, businesses, services and non-profit agencies will increase.
  • Increased diversity will strengthen the Valley’s ability to compete in a global economy.
  • The concept of community identity will evolve to meet the new social and cultural make-up of the region.  This will affect public, non-profit and private institutions.
  • Cultural institutions such as entertainment venues and historical societies will add new and adapt existing programming.
  • All schools, at all levels of education, must prepare to teach across multiple languages from Spanish to Arabic.
  • Businesses will need to increase cultural and cross-cultural competencies to attract and retain workers and remain profitable with shifting demand.


Smart phones, social media and the internet have rapidly evolved the notion of the peer-to-peer platform over the last decade.  Airbnb, Uber, Lyft, Peapod, Grubhub, Amazon, Spotify, Hulu and the millions of other time-saving, cost-saving, enhanced-access and experience companies that deliver bigger, faster, smarter, less stressful products and services have changed the nature of consumption. These and other effects of the shared and on-demand economy will grow exponentially and have wide-reaching impacts on nearly every sector of the economy, especially consumer-facing industries like retail and restaurants.



Amount of money internet/app-based shared economy added into pockets of individuals

Percentage of online retail sales in America in 2018, almost doubling in the last decade

We can expect:

  • The private demand on public infrastructure will continue to grow.
  • Demand for drop-off and loading zones will increase as online, in-app purchasing and car-share services grow.
  • Scooter and bike-share will compete for the largely privately owned sidewalk network of the region.
  • The number of vehicles on the road and trips will increase as people utilize their privately owned transportation for micro-delivery businesses.
  • Morning and afternoon peak travel will extend into other portions of the day as ride-sharing and on-demand travel increases.
  • A decline in the need for retail square footage, including grocery, will lead to the need to redevelop indoor and outdoor malls, stand-alone sites and traditional first floor commercial spaces.  Urban, suburban and rural communities will all be affected by the changes in land use.



Sharing economy in 2014

What the sharing economy is projected to grow to by 2025

Dr. Andrew Ward, Management Professor at Lehigh University, describes blockchain as a “decentralized database that stores an encrypted registry of assets and transactions”. Bitcoin is the most widely known creation utilizing blockchain technology today.  The potential for an ultra-secure, highly versatile way of verifying ownership, transactions and other information will revolutionize everything from supply chains to the way we vote.

NASDAQ has identified six real world applications of blockchain that could disrupt the business sector, including decentralized financial systems and cloud information storage, more secure digital identity, supply chain authentication, automated “smart” contracts and digital voting.




Number of real world applications of blockchain that could disrupt the business sector identified by NASDAQ

We can expect:

  • Businesses and consumers will know exactly where their supplies, including food, originated.  This will increase the knowledge base and information flow, allowing consumers to understand the value and even ethics of their purchase.  This could create a great opportunity for agricultural and agri-processing businesses, among other sectors, to promote their authentic, locally made goods.
  • New forms of money and the exchange of money.
  • Financial markets, banking facilities, brokerage houses and other financial services sectors will greatly reduce the physical space they occupy.
  • Connection to physical locations could be minimized.  This will continue to support the alteration of “community,” “quality of life” and “sense of place,” in much the way that online communities of choice have already.
  • Municipal governments will need to evolve zoning, subdivision and land development plans, and planning to support the new variety of businesses and redevelopment opportunities that blockchain technology offers.
  • Blockchain to support significant business and government innovation that will allow existing institutions and entities to become more secure, efficient, reliable and even profitable.

In the Lehigh Valley, we have seen the move back to the cities and even an increase in building, business and population density in suburban and exurban areas. The World Bank predicts that over 80% of the global population will live in urbanized areas by 2030.

The Lehigh Valley population has grown more than 4,000 people a year since the 1950s.  As a result, developable land has declined, values have increased and will continue to increase. The need to densify and more efficiently use land will grow.



We can expect:


Percentage of the global population that the World Bank predicts will live in urbanized areas by 2030

  • Land values of all types to increase as demand increases.
  • Competition between land uses, from housing to farmland to industrial to institutional, will grow.
  • Municipal governments will need to reprioritize land assets, public and private, in their planning, zoning and development regulations to account for increased demand and density.
  • Single-use zoning districts will be challenged with the increased need to diversify and densify land uses to accommodate more people, new and evolving business types, parks and recreational facilities.
  • The demand on infrastructure of all types, especially roads and bridges, technology, electric, water, sewer and stormwater, will increase with more people and jobs. Asset management systems to support increased usage will need to change to meet demand, affecting both the public and private sectors.
  • A need to re-evaluate community priorities as more land is developed, environmental and agricultural assets are challenged, and the poor, elderly and other sensitive populations are stressed and dislocated by increased land values.
  • Urbanization and densification raises the potential to reduce individual carbon footprints, reduce vehicle miles traveled, support a more robust transit system and more efficiently deliver public and private services.

More intense storms, higher rainfall amounts, less snow and rising temperatures have impacted the Lehigh Valley over the last decade. US Government agencies, like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, agree that climate change is causing significant changes in our environment. The specific effects on the Lehigh Valley are addressed in the later special section of this plan, however, climate change and adaptation affects nearly every aspect of the economy, society and environment—in the region and world.


We can expect:

Existing structures will need to be rebuilt, redeveloped and retrofit to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change

  • Global water shortages that will:
  • Put people at risk, causing the value of the Lehigh Valley’s rich water resources to increase.
  • Make supply chains more vulnerable worldwide, causing a ripple effect that will not only change how the region’s logistics industry functions, but change expectations of access to goods and services.
  • Wholesale systems change will occur to rise to the challenges and adapt to new climate realities. New governance and management models will emerge and be:
  • Comprehensive
  • Cross-sector with public, quasi-governmental and private partnerships.
  • Cross-state, regional and mega-regional.
  • Changes in the willingness of people to pay for services and manage assets, from roads and bridges to police and fire departments.
  • Federal, state and local governments will regulate differently to protect the public. This will mean less regulation in some cases and more in others.  Regulating floodplains and steep slopes will become a higher priority for Lehigh Valley governments, as water-related issues grow.
  • Emergency management will become a greater priority for municipal, county and state governments, as weather events become more severe and unpredictable.
  • Cross-community and regional partnerships for Emergency Management Services will grow.
  • State governments will need to evolve building codes, infrastructure construction standards and environmental regulations to support a natural, systems-based approach to community management and resiliency.
  • Existing structures will need to be rebuilt, redeveloped and retrofit to be more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Electricity is a foundational element of society.  Without it, we don’t function. We will consume more as we become more technologically advanced, connected and interconnected. In the US, electricity generation and distribution is privately controlled, with few exceptions.  However, in recent decades, significant focus has been paid to the vulnerabilities and age of the electric generation and distribution system. New efficiencies, and especially technologies, are helping to overcome challenges and will be significant economic drivers in the global, national and regional economy in the 21st century.


We can expect:

Air Products is developing technology that will make hydrogen-fueled vehicles a reality

  • New electric generation and distribution technologies that will be scalable, more efficient and affordable, disaggregating the energy sector.
  • Power will become more personal, as everything from cars to houses and businesses will be able to generate their own power.
  • State government will need to evolve regulations from building codes to industrial distribution and production to adapt to the demand for a combination of multi-regional, regional, local and hyper-local energy production and distribution.
  • Municipal governments will need to develop new zoning, development categories and amend comprehensive plans and official maps to adapt to a new energy future.
  • National, state, regional and mega-regional planning for vehicle electrification and other post-oil future fuels.
  • The rise of new business models built on new energy generation and distribution technologies.  Traditional electric utilities and battery companies will adapt and change with market forces.
  • Significant increase in energy consumption as more and more consumer and industrial goods and services need more power.

The LANTA fleet is now largely electric or compressed natural

Audi, Acura, BMW,

Chevrolet, Dodge, Fiat, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Infinity, Kia, Mercedes, Nissan, Porsche, Subaru, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagon all have


available electric vehicles in the market today.