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This is the archive site of Global Gov Jam 2011-2018. From 2019 on please visit

Empathy Engine

Who’s Essex? – identifying common challenges to us all in Essex.

In response to the #GGovJam 2015 theme, the Empathy Engine seeks to breakdown barriers to understanding individuals’ circumstances, clouded and moulded by perception, prejudice and one’s own life experience.

In particular, it aims to act as a tool to rehabilitate youth offenders and reduce recidivism and to inform policy makers in many areas of the public sector and judiciary. It avoids vulnerable individuals becoming “boxed-in” to a life in the criminal justice system.

Empathy Engine takes the form of a secure on-line repository of face to face interviews, each conducted in a controlled way using sampled interviewees. The content of the interviews will follow lines of questioning that attempts to identify areas of interest that can help guide service provision for those who are likely to or have already taken part in criminal behaviour.

By recording real people and life experiences, the Empathy Engine helps create realistic and truly representative persona, highlighting lifestyle traits. It also illustrates how common experiences can bind unlikely people together. As well as assisting policy-makers, this could also be used by Youth Offending Support Team members to exemplify youth offenders to, say, employers, dispelling myths and unhelpful pre-conceptions.

The Empathy Engine (Who's Essex?) is a search engine based on metadata tags that produces a set of personas that match the search criteria and thus provide a sample of "Who's Essex" in this context.

This set of persona's can then be used in policy discussions around that area to remind policy makers of the type of the type of people likely to be affected by their decisions.


Philip Wilson
Graham Herbing
Paul Smith
Lee Moorton
Vanessa Walker
Simon Wallace

Creative Commons Licence


Team members