Sentireal was founded in 2013 in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It specialises in the creation of software applications using cutting edge immersive technologies of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), web development, mobile app development and 2D and 3D content.
What Sentireal did
The Site IT project involved collaboration between Sentireal, NIACRO, and the Construction Industry Training Board NI (CITBNI), alongside Northern Ireland Prison Service.
Many prisoners express a desire to attain a CSR card, which is a requisite for working on construction sites. Current CSR training is limited to classroom-based learning which does not suit all learners as many of the prisoners have low levels of academic attainments or have had negative experiences of the educational system.
Site IT utilises VR technology to enable prisoners to ‘learn by doing’ in immersive VR environments, delivering vocational construction training, allowing them to build vocational skills and gain virtual work experience. This in turn will help their rehabilitation and prospects of a brighter future, by assisting them to secure employment and decreasing the likelihood of re-offending and re-entering the prison system.
Site IT will be introduced into HMP Maghaberry initially, with the aim of expanding into the UK market and beyond. It is applicable to prisons throughout the UK, housing over 80,000 prisoners.
Impacts and Outcomes
- Site IT can produce trained and assessed individuals able to operate safely without being a danger to themselves and others on site, raising safety standards within the industry as a whole
- Site IT will assist the industry with improvements in qualifications, awareness raising, competence assessment and careers promotion
- Sentireal gained new knowledge, experience and expertise which represents a new market vertical for the company, product range and customer base
- Used business skills for a social challenge involving rehabilitation of those in prison, providing prisoners with a second chance to re-enter society and make a positive contribution
- Provides immersive construction site experiences, increasing opportunities for sustained employment for prisoners upon release
- Employers benefit by improved work-readiness of potential employees for an industry struggling to find and retain skilled workers
- There are over 1,800 receptions into Maghaberry each year and Site IT provides the potential to increase employment opportunities for at least 40% of these people who have expressed a desire to work in construction environments
- Not only will Site IT impact upon the lives of prisoners, but also upon those of their families and relatives, with wider society benefitting from a reduction in crime and re-offending rates
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The Judges said
The entry from Sentireal was a clear fit with the Responsible Digital Innovation category, demonstrating how forward-thinking technology and a collaborative partnership between Sentireal, NIACRO, and the Construction Industry Training Board NI (CITBNI), alongside Northern Ireland Prison Service, can benefit a sector of society that traditionally experiences many barriers to employment.
The Site IT project successfully engaged partners, the target industry and people who have been through the justice system. The virtual reality application created enables prisoners to ‘learn by doing’ in immersive environments, delivering vocational construction training, allowing them to build vocational skills and gain virtual work experience to support rehabilitation and prospects of a brighter future, by assisting them to secure employment and decreasing the likelihood of re-offending and re-entering the prison system.