Orleans Parish Communication District and Carbyne Launch Live Audio Translation Feature for Emergency Communications

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(New Orleans, LA, May 15, 2023) – Orleans Parish Communication District (OPCD) Executive Director Tyrell Morris and technology partner Carbyne announce the integration of live audio language translation into its emergency call-taking platform, APEX. This milestone development is aimed at saving lives by assisting callers who are not fluent in English.

With this new technology, OPCD emergency communication specialists can immediately start gathering pertinent information such as to the location of the emergency, details of the incident, and what type of priority services are needed. Callers can speak in their native language while call takers receive live translation on screen of what is being said.  OPCD call takers will still conference in a certified interpreter to ask additional questions and provide emergency instructions but, this feature breaks through the traditional language barriers when seconds count.

OPCD utilizing Carbyne’s APEX platform with Live Audio Language Translation will have the capacity to:

  • Instantly identify the caller’s spoken language from 14 available languages (Carbyne will add more languages regularly).
  • Display real-time, on-screen translation of the caller’s audio.
  • Record the translated and transcribed call for post-call analysis via Carbyne Events History.
  • Reduce errors which may be introduced by human translators paraphrasing the caller.
  • Support diverse communities by helping call-takers better prepare for callers who speak a language other than their own.
  • Enhance dispatch time by eliminating delays associated with human translators; and
  • Reduce costs by minimizing reliance on paid human translation services.

“This new feature will allow OPCD call takers to work faster with our non-English speaking callers and provide efficient emergency services,” said 911 Director, Wendy Ervin.

In the United States, over 67 million people speak a language other than English at home, with Spanish being spoken by more than 61% of these individuals. Conversely, in Latin America, a significant number of people speak English as a second language. Approximately 8% of 9-1-1 calls involve callers who struggle to communicate fluently in English over the phone.  OPCD will be starting with Spanish language translation. As Carbyne introduces more languages into its system, OPCD will also integrate other languages available.

“An emergency situation is not the ideal time for a distressed caller to translate from their native language to English just to convey what’s happening,” said Alex Dizengof, Chief Technology Officer for Carbyne.

 “Our ‘every person counts’ philosophy at Carbyne means that no one should feel disadvantaged or treated as a second-class citizen for speaking their native language, particularly during some of the most challenging moments of their lives.”

OPCD staff have been fully trained on this new feature and began using it on Friday, May 12, 2023, without any challenges.

“Once again, OPCD is leading the emergency communications industry with progressive and innovative practices that make our team and center more efficient and allow for us to speed up the delivery of emergency services.  Recent incidents made it clear that we as an industry needed to improve the experience for non-English speaking callers looking for help.  Even with the deployment of this innovative tool, we will remain focused on continuous process improvement for the entire communications ecosystem.” said OPCD Executive Director, Tyrell Morris.