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The IT Pro Podcast: Enabling bilingual business

How Wales is using digital tech to deliver a greater choice of languages

The IT Pro Podcast: Enabling bilingual business

Technology plays a vital role in helping government and public sector organisations respond to challenges and deliver services to the public, and in increased use of digital tools can unlock new capabilities and efficiencies. One somewhat unique example of this is the Welsh government, which must meet certain standards to ensure that the Welsh language is treated equally to English.

As well as providing Welsh-language options in its apps and services, this also includes supporting Welsh speakers in meetings, and the Welsh government has been working with Microsoft on the ability to include live translation in Teams calls via human interpreters. Joining us this week to discuss the opportunities this provides for bilingual organisations, as well as how the Welsh government is using technology to enable its digital strategy, is Glyn Jones, Chief Digital Officer for the Welsh Government.

Highlights

“So when the pandemic hit, we were just going through the transition as many people were, I think, into Teams… So our chief technology officer at the time immediately said to Microsoft, right, how are we going to get on the roadmap for Teams, that we can provide bilingual meetings, and we've led this dialogue with Microsoft; I understand that we're the country that have been driving this the most.”

“We've been doing a lot of work with Bangor University and other people around developing the language sets and the training data to improve the natural language processing and the artificial intelligence around this. So eventually, you will hopefully be able to have speech to text translation, so the subtitles will appear in whatever language you want them to do. And once you've got that, you can use the automated translation facility to translate to whatever language you want.”

“When we fund those kinds of language technology developments, another thing we're clear about is that we expect the resources and data to be released under open licence. So that means the training data can be shared with other companies. And they can add Welsh into their services. So we're very keen that as in terms of public money, when we're investing into this, we're investing in open licences.”

Read the full transcript here.

Footnotes

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