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Tips for Concepting

As we’ve learned in the early weeks of our Amnesty Challenge, tackling unlawful detention and identifying technologies that can support human rights is a complex undertaking.
To help guide you through  Concepting, we’ve pulled together a few tips. Our intention is that these will help you think through the details of the concepts you submit, as well as offer insight into the evaluation criteria we’ll use to choose the winning concepts later on.

How can our concepts leverage technology in a positive and safe way, as opposed to putting detainees in greater harm?

Our overarching challenge question asks us to find ways to use technology to support human rights. For example, one clear way to use tech is to track people who have been unlawfully detained. Some early inspirations pointed to this, from GPS tattoos to microchips implanted in teeth. 
While these scenarios offer inspiration, we also have to consider how these kinds of tracking devices might actually put someone who has been detained at further risk – for instance, by exposing to his or her captors that the detainee is being monitored.  Technology can be a double-edged sword in this case so it’ll be important for each of us to think through how our ideas might have both positive and negative impacts on a detainee.

How can we be sure our concepts are grounded in reality?

When it comes to illegal detention, there is no single, discrete model to point to. Detention (and human rights violations more broadly) looks very different from country to country. Unfortunately, this means we don’t always know the needs we’re designing for, nor the constraints we’re operating under. The good news is that we can point to a couple of clear issues to consider:
  • Lack of available information: often when someone is secretly detained, his or her family will have access to very little or potentially no information regarding the detainee’s whereabouts, safety or health. How might we use technology to connect families with the information they need to support their loved one in detention?
  • Low-tech settings: illegal detention can happen anywhere – in well-developed urban areas saturated with smart phones and high-speed internet, as well as in remote, rural places with little access to cell phones or internet. Given this, let’s consider how our high-tech ideas could be adapted to suit low-tech settings, and vice versa.
  • Building flexible tools: Culture, context, language and norms are just some of the factors to keep in mind when designing concepts. How might our ideas be adapted, translated or modified to be relevant and applicable in local contexts – wherever “local” might be?
Now that you’ve had a chance to think through some of these key design tips, you’re ready to get started!  Head over to the Concepting phase and share your ideas.