Step 1. Analysing the context
To get off to a good start, you will need to take time to gather the information and build your understanding before you start proposing design ideas. We refer to this as analysing the context. For example, you will not be able to propose an appropriate way to improve electricity access without first understanding what people use electricity for, how important it is to them, how often they use it, how much they use, what potential generation resources are available or how any of this might change in the future.
For the purposes of the Engineering for People Design Challenge ‘context’ refers to all the factors, internal and external, that influence how people live their lives. Whilst people everywhere share many of the same needs, how people live is also affected by factors such as geography, politics, culture and the environment, all of which differ from place to place. Analysing the context is about understanding these factors, and how they are interrelated, to determine how they will influence your decision making throughout the design process. There are many tools available to help direct your research so that you can gain an understanding of context in a manageable way. The following three diagrams provide some guidance about what you could consider, but this is by no means the only way to do it.