The North Las Vegas City Council last week became the first jurisdiction in Nevada to use artificial intelligence (AI)-powered real-time transcribing and translating software for its public meetings.
The city acquired Wordly to translate Spanish into English. According to the latest census, 42 percent The North Las Vegas population identified as Hispanic and nearly 38 percent spoke a language other than English at home.
It is an initiative of the city.
„I think that’s what government should be about — reaching out to the people and making government relevant to everyone you know,” Councilman Isaac Barron said at the meeting. „As a teacher and a member of the community, I am very pleased.”
During a public comment or a presentation by a Spanish speaker, a translated transcription of that person’s words can be seen on large screens at the front of the room. Accuracy depends on the speaker’s speed and clarity, but viewers can also see how AI technology tries to correct sentences and clean up words.
Maria Navarrete, a member of Make the Road Nevada and a North Las Vegas resident, thanked the congregation in Spanish as the software translated her words.
„Our diverse community is the center of this city. And every voice must be heard and understood. (Our diverse community is at the heart of this city. And every voice deserves to be heard and understood),” Navarrete told council members. “Translation technology is more than a convenience, it’s a vital tool for people like me. (Translation technology is more of a tool for people like me than a convenience.)
Upon entering a council meeting, visitors can scan a QR code with a smartphone or tablet to access a link where they can see a real-time translation of what the speaker is saying.
The system also works when viewing a meeting from home by scanning the QR code on the meeting agenda. Viewers can listen to the translation using earphones instead of reading it.
Officials said during last week’s council meeting that they hope to bring the English to Tagalog translation by the end of this year. Barron said the Philippines is the city’s „fourth largest growing group.” Wordly supports interpreting in more than 30 languages.
“What I like about it is that it translates English into Spanish and Spanish into English. We have to get used to reading the screen here,” North Las Vegas Mayor Pamela Goins-Brown told the crowd.