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Sochi City Administration, MegaFon and ABBYY Launch Sochi Language Support Program

Sochi, 19 September 2011 – Sochi City Administration, MegaFon and ABBYY announce the launch of the Sochi Language Support Program. The Program aims at providing comfortable accommodation for foreign guests to Sochi, as well as making their way to the city as pleasant as possible.

The Language Support Program includes a number of elements. The key element will be a multilingual information call center where foreign guests will be able to obtain all the information they need in their native language or use over-the-phone interpreting services. Bilingual operators will assist guests in their native language with interpreting, calling a taxi and with a variety of other requests, and in case of an emergency.

Transport, hospitals, pharmacies, and police stations will be equipped with special phones with two receivers for convenient three-way communication, assisted by an interpreter from the call center. Police and emergency teams will also be able to use the service via a mobile phone. Taxi companies, restaurants, hotels and other catering services will also appreciate using the call center services to communicate with their foreign customers. During the Olympics, the services will be provided by the call center free of charge. Before the Games, the center will operate on a toll-free basis.

The mission of the Program partners is to arrange for the day-to-day operation of the call center, depending on its load. The main difficulty is that it is impossible to predict the load, as it depends on a wide range of factors. Statistics for the previous Games will not help to clarify the situation because there was no such problem as the language barrier in Vancouver and will not apparently be the case of London, where English is the official language. China, where the English language proficiency is comparable to that in Russia, was the first country to try a comprehensive approach to the language barrier problem. At that time, not everything worked out well, and the guests often had problems with communication. When developing our project, we took China’s experience into consideration and, hopefully, the Program will turn out to be efficient. The infrastructure and developments of MegaFon and ABBYY will be used to promptly expand the call center capacity, allowing us to hire a number of interpreters from various languages based in different parts of the country and connect them to the platform.

Special glossaries with geographic names and major city landmarks will be developed to ensure consistency of the information rendered.

As part of the Program, ABBYY will release a mobile application iSochi for iOS- and Android-based smartphones. The first version of the application will become available in 2012. The application, developed to help travellers, will contain general reference information, links to maps, mobile dictionaries, phrase books, and a machine translator, as well as the possibility to order professional translations of texts captured by a mobile phone camera. iSochi will facilitate connection to the call center in the language selected by the user.

All businesses involved in servicing foreign guests, such as hotels, restaurants, entertainment centers, and shopping malls, will need to have their materials in English, i.e. menus, announcements, information leaflets, and flyers, all proofread by native English speakers. ABBYY will also provide an automated professional translation order service, which can be used by any of the city businesses, and arrange for existing materials to be read by native speakers.

The Program suggests installing multilingual electronic information terminals all over the city; the terminals will use the same database as the bilingual operators at the call center. This will ensure consistency of information and terminology. The terminals will offer information about transit routes, restaurants, hotels, places of interest in the city etc. A possibility to connect the terminals and the call-center via a voice communication device is currently being discussed.

"High-quality linguistic support during such large-scale international events is particularly important in Russia where the average level of proficiency in modern languages is low, meaning many foreign guests would experience communication problems. We believe that ABBYY’s unique experience in linguistic technology and services will lead to the most efficient and innovative solution to the challenge Sochi and other tourist areas in Russia are facing," — says Ivan Smolnikov, ABBYY Language Services CEO.

"The Language Support Program is a totally unique project in terms of both scale and potential effect. We expect that the technology and solutions we are implementing in Sochi will, for the first time ever, create a special language area where people from all countries will understand each other. We hope that it will make the 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Games special and memorable for all participants," — adds Igor Pepelyaev, Marketing Director for MegaFon.

For more info about the Sochi Language Services Program please email us:

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