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 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.