iLab - Design Process - Definition

At this point each group defined the problem (related to active and alternative transportation) they think needs to be solved. The problem definitions were presented to our community partner on December 3, 2015:

Group: La Femme

In designing active and alternative transportation, one must consider the needs of low-income, low-access communities. Our project hopes to ensure that, as the Prova Group moves forward in advocating for active and alternative transportation in our community, they consider the needs of low-income residents. One vital part of low-income consideration is the access to nutritious, affordable food. Many low-income households struggle with food insecurity; the USDA considers a household food insecure when “the availability of nutritionally adequate and safe food, or the ability to acquire such food, is limited or uncertain for a household.” To alleviate food insecurity, we must develop an understanding of the factors involved in food access. Food deserts are a model of food insecurity that describe physical proximity to healthy, affordable food. There are two models of food deserts--static and spatiotemporal. The static, or traditional, model is manifest in the USDA definition, which evaluates the physical distance between one’s residence and a market for healthy, affordable food. The second model, spatiotemporal, evaluates the proximity of healthy, affordable food sellers to one’s commute, thereby modeling food access on how people move in their daily lives.

In our secondary research, we’ve found that food insecurity in food deserts has been exacerbated by lack of access to reliable transportation. In our own community, several Chattanoogans came together a few years ago and cited inefficient public transportation in food deserts as a primary cause of food insecurity in those areas. Other cities shared these issues of inefficient public transportation. In one study, they cite access to independent transportation as critical to food security because of its superiority in reliability and flexibility over public transportation.

In the next month, we will be conducting survey research in the East Chattanooga community, which we’ve chosen to focus on because of its proximity to the university and prior research on food insecurity by the Urban League which identified this community as one of Chattanooga’s major food deserts. As such, our problem definition remains fluid, and we plan to clarify it with primary research and lenses informed by the secondary research that we’ve done. Thus far, however, we’ve identified that lack of access to reliable transportation is a major contributor to food insecurity and many instances, and we’re looking to listen to the East Chattanooga directly moving forward to identify more specifically the root of food insecurity. 


Group: One Red Barracuda

The issue facing Chattanooga today in terms of active and alternative transportation is that it is not being used at a high rate. A study that was provided by the Prova Group showed that the large majority of Chattanooga residents do not use alternative transportation in their daily commutes, and tend to drive alone in their cars. Our group set out to determine why this is so high. The first subject of study was the alternative transportation system itself. However, we found that many forms of alternative transportation are available, and that they are constantly being improved. The question now becomes: “Why do only a small minority of individuals utilize the available alternative transportation resources?” One problem, we have found, is Chattanooga does not have a major marketing campaign in place for active alternative transportation. Chattanooga has a growing infrastructure for active and alternative transportation. Recent progressions by the city have expanded the busing system and the city has invested in the bike share program. However, these expansions are not highly publicized to those not involved in the transportation community. By educating the community and marketing the pre-existing infrastructure, we hypothesize that the use of active and alternative transportation can be greatly expanded in our city.  

Our primary research suggests that Millennials want more information about active and alternative transportation. Around 40% of respondents suggested that they would use active and alternative transportation more if it was more available to them and if they had more information. Of those who use active transportation, the rates of usage are high meaning that they use seven or more trips each week using active transportation. This evidence shows that once the person begins using active methods of transportation, they continue to use it at a high rate. There are also problems with the busing system, as we had a zero percent response for those using the bus on a regular basis. They had stereotypical views of the busing system, even though that they had not used it recently. This suggests that a detailed and directed marketing and educational plan would benefit the growing multi-modal infrastructure that Chattanooga is building.  

Our goal is to fill the missing link between the knowledge that the system exists and the actual use of the system is the knowledge of how to use the system. Therefore, we are defining our groups’ problem as there being a lack of education about active and alternative transportation. We believe that by educating the public and increasing awareness about these methods, that we can increase the usage of these methods in Chattanooga. Keeping this in mind, we want to move forward with a marketing campaign commissioned by Chattanooga Department of Transportation called ‘This Way’ campaign. This campaign will provide us with more direction and information for the rest of the year. 


Group: Rudy Babies

During our group’s investigation process, we discovered that the investigation prompt and problem are almost synonymous in nature. Active and alternative modes of transportation are simply not being utilized prevalently enough to the extent where resources are being widely supplied. This cyclical pattern is putting further development in a stagnant state, and must be reversed through awareness.

We are going to approach the problem through a sequential process: most likely beginning with familiarizing the student population of the current lack of utilization, and progressing from there to potentially discussing further researched and subsequently implemented action with city planners and university equivalents. This could entail a multitude of possibilities, but we believe that it will be most beneficial to remain within the existing parameters of our focus group: college students living on campus, and the optimal use of bicycles when possible. Administering another survey, with more specific questions might be in line. Also, it may be a good idea for our group to make flyers to hand out next semester.


In Spring 2016 the groups moved on to the fourth phase in the design process, IdeationDuring the Ideation and Idea Selection process several group redefined their problem defintions. The redefined problem defintions were presented along with problem solutions in April.