Lincolnshire County Council - Case Study
Translating English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Italian & Polish
Results: Higher citizen satisfaction measured by Web site surveys
SYSTRAN's API is also integrated with Read Speaker, that 'speaks' the web content in various languages
Lincolnshire, situated on the East Coast of England is the UK's fourth largest county. It stretches from the River Humber to the Wash, and like an increasing number of local authorities has a growing population of immigrant workers.
"Just a few thousand pounds per year to fully address our translation needs and provide a multi-lingual communication is amazing value. To date, the quality of output has been good. We were never naive enough to believe that our pages would be as fluent or literal as a manual translation, but if visitors understand enough of the web content to get a flavour of its meaning, then there can be no argument for not using it. Using SYSTRAN, we're in a position to make the content of the entire site available to citizens for whom English is a second language."
Peter Barton, Head of Web & Information Services, Lincolnshire County Council.
- To serve large communities within Lincolnshire County for whom English is a second language
- Extensive range of languages including Polish, Spanish, Russian, German, Chinese and Portuguese
- To help citizens better understand local information published on the Web site
- To provide equal information access for all of residents, no matter where they are from or what language they speak
- SYSTRANLinks Solution to offer real time translation service within the entire Web site
- Fully synchronized multilingual web site in English, French, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Italian and Polish
- Web Content Management System generates rich and up-to-date content reference written in English
- Integration with a Text-to-Speech service to improve accessibility (translate and listen)
- Local information available now for community languages
- Scalable globalization model with fixed yearly costs
- Localized pages visit growth
- Higher citizen satisfaction measured by Web site surveys
- Service which contributes to promote diversity, providing wider community participation opportunities to Web site audience
A few minutes with LINCOLNSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL
Lincolnshire's web site plays a vital role in communicating with its 690,000 citizens, and as Peter Barton, Head of Web and Information Services at the County Council explains, automating web page translation with SYSTRAN is an easy and cost effective way of providing access to local information for all.
Lincolnshire, which covers almost 6,000 square kilometres, is largely a farming county and services a rich diversity of nationalities. It has many Polish and eastern European workers on its farms and in its factories. In towns such as Boston for example, around 15% of the population is Portuguese.
Short of staffing a multi-lingual call centre, providing important day-to-day information about local services such as education, benefits, council tax and employment was going to prove a challenge. So, the Authority looked into the possibility of translating the content of its web pages.
Barton's project team began by defining which areas of the site ( lincolnshire.gov.uk ) the translations might apply to, which wasn't that straight-forward.
He explains, In short, which pages should be given priority? Are the most used pages necessarily the right ones, and why are they the most used? If the web pages were presented in different languages so that more non-British visitors could better understand the content, would more of them use different parts of the web site? How many sub divisions are required? Our web site is complex and dynamic - the front page changes at least twice per day.
We quickly concluded that whilst manual translations by a specialist translator or translation agency would be more grammatically perfect, with around 10,000 documents and 10 languages to address, the cost would be astronomic.
Employing such an un-dynamic process would also be unhelpful. Even if we translated just 10% of the content, it would cost us around £100,000 per year which we simply can't justify.
The alternative was to embrace technology to automate the translation. Peter Barton sought a recommended solution, and set about finding out who powered the translation tools for some of the major search engines at the time, which led him to SYSTRAN.
He then evaluated it against a rival product, Babelfish. SYSTRAN was quickly selected based on price, its ease of installation and 'fluid navigation' on translated links that offers a unique browsing experience for the foreign visitor.
Citizens can now simply click on a small flag and then forget that they are facing an English web site, as the translation operates in the background while they browse from page to page.
Barton chose Omega First, UK distributor for SYSTRAN, as its partner to purchase SYSTRANLinks.
The SYSTRANLinks online service instantly converts the English version of the web site into multiple languages.
SYSTRAN technology offers a broad linguistic coverage with the support of more than 52 language pairs. So, the system is scalable and additional languages can be easily integrated.
The web content translation at Lincolnshire County Council is now fully automated. In practice, as the page content is updated by Barton's team in English, it is automatically translated into nine other languages with 'no fuss', and made live. Pages are available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Chinese, Russian and Polish.
Barton concludes, just a few thousand pounds per year to fully address our translation needs and provide a multi-lingual communication is amazing value. To date the quality of output has been good. We were never naive enough to believe that our pages would be as fluent or literal as a manual translation, but if visitors understand enough of the web content to get a flavour of its meaning, then there can be no argument for not using it.
"Using SYSTRAN, we're in a position to make the content of the entire site available to citizens for whom English is a second language.
The alternative would be that they only had access to limited pages of information" continued Barton. "In three years, I've known just a handful of negative comments about the quality of the international pages" - most of which were from individuals trying to sell their translation services!
According to Barton, 85% of the web site's users come from UK URL locations, which indicates that the web team is reaching its target audiences correctly. The site is an impressive operation with over 140,000 visitors, 155,000 page visits and almost one million page views every month.
And, that's not the Authority's only claim to fame. It was also the first organisation in the UK to offer a 'read out' service that delivers web content by audio stream in not only a local language, but a local accent too.
The SYSTRAN system at Lincolnshire is partnered with a Swedish product called Read Speaker that 'speaks' the web content in Kurdish, Romanian, Turkish, Albanian, French, Lithuanian, Czech, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Arabic and Chinese. With this combined solution, foreign audiences can translate and listen to the translation from any content published on the web site.
We offer the best use of innovative technologies to make our information very accessible to citizens", concludes Barton.