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CEF eTranslation is making multilingual information on COVID-19 more accessible

A representation of a virus against a background of a blue map of Europe

During an international crisis, the fast and accurate exchange of information across languages is key. The COVID-19 Multilingual Information Access (MLIA) initiative is a collective effort from the language technology community to improve information exchange about the virus, across all EU languages and more. This is with the view of making information more readily available to the general public, regardless of the source language, but can also support researchers and medical personnel.

Improving access to information on the virus across language barriers involves developing automated solutions for, firstly, gathering relevant, multilingual information on the virus and, secondly, accurately and reliably translating this information. 

In order to achieve this, the European Commission's Directorate-General for Communications Networks, DG CNECT, is spearheading the MLIA initiative. This will take the form of a series of research challenges in which teams develop solutions for directly improving access to information on COVID-19 across language barriers, through information extraction, multilingual semantic search and machine translation. The Directorate-General for Translation (DGT), which operates the eTranslation machine translation system, will be participating, as will international research challenges like Text Retrieval Conference (TREC) from the USA, NTCIR from Japan and the Conference for Machine Translation (WMT). 

However, these research challenges rely on the collection of a vast amount of language data, or linguistic resources, related to coronavirus. The more linguistic resources and data that machine translation tools and multilingual search engines have at their disposal, the better they work. 

Some of the most important language technology networks in Europe provide support and supply the language data necessary to drive this initiative. The European Language Resources Coordination (ELRC), part of CEF's eTranslation, the Cross-Language Evaluation Forum (CLEF), and the European Research Infrastructure for Languages Resources and Technology (CLARIN ERIC), are all directly involved in the organisation of the research challenges. 

The ELRC currently has 195 COVID-19 Language Resources 

How does eTranslation help?

The European Language Resources Coordination (ELRC) is part of the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) eTranslation Building Block. The ELRC has adapted pre-existing data gathering activities to specifically target multilingual resources related to COVID-19. The ELRC repository now hosts more than 260 such language resources, such as multilingual data from the European Vaccination Information Portal, all of which are vital to optimising the performance of multilingual semantic search and machine translation. This wealth of linguistic resources helps to both identify and categorise relevant information and translate it more accurately.

If information about coronavirus were made readily available in multiple languages, citizens all over Europe could access information from a variety of sources to check the latest public safety and travel guidelines, or even updates on promising new treatments, building a more complete picture to be as well-informed as possible. 

Ultimately, this initiative aims to pool our collective knowledge, creating open and accessible tools and resources that will not only improve access to multilingual information during the coronavirus pandemic, but also during moments of future crisis. 

How can CEF help you during and beyond the pandemic?

You can use CEF eTranslation's machine translation tool to share essential information in a vast variety of languages quickly, using state-of-the-art neural machine translation technology. eTranslation is freely available to all SMEs, and translates formatted documents or plain text between any EU language, Icelandic, Norwegian, Russian or Mandarin. Visit eTranslation to get started. 

If you want to know more about how our open, reusable digital solutions can help public administrations and businesses during the pandemic, visit our dedicated page.

Last updated on  Feb 18, 2021 14:17

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