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Sochi, 19 September 2011. Sochi City Administration, MegaFon and ABBYY are Starting to Implement the Linguistic Services Program for Sochi

Sochi, September 19, 2011 – the Sochi City Administration, MegaFon and ABBYY have announced they are starting to implement the Sochi Linguistic Services Program. The Program includes a set of activities intended to make Sochi a pleasurable destination for foreigners.

The Linguistic Services Program is made up of a number of elements. The main thing is to create a multi-language information and reference call center where foreigners can request information they need in their mother tongue and use an interpreter service on the phone. Translators turned operators will help the guest out in their mother tongue with translations, ordering a taxi, requests for information and in emergencies.

Transport, hospitals, drug stores and police departments will be equipped with special two-receiver telephones that facilitate convenient three-party communication involving an interpreter at the call center. Via the call center, callers on mobile phones can communicate with the police, the Ministry of Emergencies, ambulances etc. Taxi fleets, restaurants, hotels and other service facilities will be able to use the call center's services to communicate with foreign clients. The call center's services will be free of charge during the period of the Olympic Games and will operate on a commercial basis during preparations for the Games.

The main challenge the partners will have to deal with is to make sure the call center performs well regardless of its load. The load cannot be fully predicted and depends on a range of factors. Statistics for previous Games will not add certainty, either, as there is virtually no issue of language barriers in Vancouver and London because English is the language spoken in those countries. With levels of English fluency approximately close to Russia’s, China was the first to try to develop a comprehensive solution to the problem of language barriers. However, it did not work out as expected, and guests often experienced communication difficulties. When developing our own project, we took China's lessons into account and we expect the Program to function really well. The infrastructure and developments of MegaFon and ABBYY will be used to rapidly expand the call center's capacity. This will make it possible to quickly engage and connect to the platform the required number of interpreters working from/to different languages and distributed all over the country.

There are plans to prepare specialized glossaries with translations of geographic names and major sites of the city. When participating in the Program, ABBYY will release iSochi, an iOS or Android mobile application for Smartphone users. The first version of the application will be available as early as in 2012. This application was developed to assist travelers and will include general reference information, links to maps, mobile dictionaries, phrasebooks, a machine translation tool and a feature allowing users to order a professional translation of a text photographed right from the cellular telephone. iSochi will establish a connection with the call center in the language chosen by the user.

All companies, including as hotels, restaurants, entertainment and trade centers that plan to offer their services to foreign guests should make sure all English materials (menus, notices, information brochures and leaflets) are verified by native English speakers. ABBYY will also support an automated order of a professional translation service that can be used by all entities in the city and verification of the existing materials by native speakers.

Within the Program, multilanguage information and reference electronic terminals will be installed around the city to use the same database available to interpreter operators of the call center. This will make provision of information uniform and terminology consistent. The terminal will display transport routes, details of restaurants, hotels and local sights, etc. There are discussions under way about providing such information terminals with a voice connection to the call center.

"Good-quality linguistic support for such large-scale international events is crucial, especially in Russia, where the average fluency in foreign languages is below average, and many foreign guests will face some communication difficulties. We believe that using ABBYY's unique experience with linguistic technologies and services will result in the most effective and innovative solution to the complex task which the City of Sochi and a number of other tourist centers of Russia now face," says Ivan Smolnikov, General Director of ABBYY Language Services.

"Implementation of the Linguistic Services Program is an absolutely unique project in terms of both its scale and potential effect. We expect that the technological solutions we are about to implement in Sochi will create the world's first special language area in which representatives of all countries will find common ground. We hope this will make the 2014 Olympics and Paralympics a special and memorable occasion for all its participants," says Igor Pepelyaev, Marketing Director of OAO MegaFon.

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