Crowdsourced translation for emergency response in Haiti: the global collaboration of local knowledge

Robert Munro


Abstract
In the wake of the January 12 earthquake in Haiti it quickly became clear that the existing emergency response services had failed but text messages were still getting through. A number of people quickly came together to establish a text-message based emergency reporting system. There was one hurdle: the majority of the messages were in Haitian Kreyol, which for the most part was not understood by the primary emergency responders, the US Military. We therefore crowdsourced the translation of messages, allowing volunteers from within the Haitian Kreyol and French-speaking communities to translate, categorize and geolocate the messages in real-time. Collaborating online, they employed their local knowledge of locations, regional slang, abbreviations and spelling variants to process more than 40,000 messages in the first six weeks alone. According the responders this saved hundreds of lives and helped direct the first food and aid to tens of thousands. The average turn-around from a message arriving in Kreyol to it being translated, categorized, geolocated and streamed back to the responders was 10 minutes. Collaboration among translators was crucial for data-quality, motivation and community contacts, enabling richer value-adding in the translation than would have been possible from any one person.
Anthology ID:
2010.amta-workshop.1
Volume:
Proceedings of the Workshop on Collaborative Translation: technology, crowdsourcing, and the translator perspective
Month:
October 31
Year:
2010
Address:
Denver, Colorado, USA
Venue:
AMTA
SIG:
Publisher:
Association for Machine Translation in the Americas
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URL:
https://aclanthology.org/2010.amta-workshop.1
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PDF:
https://aclanthology.org/2010.amta-workshop.1.pdf