Stories

Live Translations for Government Meetings

Asheville is streaming live translations to allow hearing-impaired and non-English speakers to participate in local government meetings.

Citizen Experience/EngagementEngagement
Highlights
  • Asheville City Council Committee meetings are conducted solely in English and streamed live onto YouTube.
  • Feedback from native Spanish speakers on staff indicated that YouTube's existing translation function was insufficient.
  • The city's IT Services created an artificial intelligence live translation service for community members to access when watching any city meetings broadcast on YouTube.
  • This new translation service allows hearing-imparied and non-English speaking residents of Asheville to actively participate in local government.
Project Summary
The Problem
The city of Asheville, NC is home to a significant number of residents to whom English is either not spoken or is a second language. The two non-English languages most prominent in the city are Spanish and Russian. However, Asheville City Council Committee meetings are conducted solely in English and streamed live onto YouTube.
The city lacks the necessary funding to implement simulataneous Spanish or Russian intepretations during these meetings. Feedback from native Spanish speakers on staff indicated that YouTube's existing translation function was insufficient.

The Solution
The city's IT Services Department used Amazon Web Service's natural language processing and streaming media tools to code a low-cost, real-time solution. They created an artificial intelligence live translation service for community members to access when watching any city meetings broadcast on YouTube.
Feedback from native Spanish and Russian speakers confirmed that the artificial intelligence algorithms provided accurate translations. In fact, the consensus was that this solution worked just as well as a human translator. This is a very promising finding considering the task of correctly synchronizing translations to live video streams is normally considered extremely challenging.
This new translation service allows hearing-imparied and non-English speaking residents of Asheville to actively participate in local government in a way that was never previously possible.


Discussion
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In Progress
Products
Amazon Web Services, Youtube
Resources
Project GitHub
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