Indonesia is using crowdsourced language data to implement policies directed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. The Translator Gator online game incentivises citizens to translate words related to the SDGs from English into their native language by rewarding users with phone credit. Indonesians have submitted 109,000 translations, which government is using to create taxonomies for six of the country’s 300 languages and monitor public opinion on SDG-related policies.
Results & Impact
In four months, the Translator Gator web game received 109,000 contributions, at least 97% of which are accurate. The language data has helped create taxonomies for six of Indonesia's native languages and drive policy research.
Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development and Planning, the United Nations, Pulse Lab Jakarta
Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development and Planning and the United Nations partnered to create Pulse Lab Jakarta, an innovation hub that uses data analysis to promote social and economic development in Indonesia. Pulse Lab built Translator Gator, a game that prompts citizens to translate words and phrases related to the SDGs from English to their native languages. In addition to translating words, users rank others’ interpretations, suggest synonyms and sort words and phrases into categories. Users are rewarded for their translations, which they can cash in for phone credit. The native languages used in the game include Jawa, Sunda, Minang, Bugis and Melayu.
Cost & Value
Running since 2016
The biggest challenge for Pulse Lab is encouraging a diverse cross-section of people in 11 countries to use the app. In an effort to make the game more attractive to users, Pulse Lab is in the process of user testing with gamers.
Translator Gator has expanded to the 10 member states of Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Sri Lanka.
Indonesia is building a codified registry of the country’s 300-plus languages by gamifying and crowdsourcing translation, in an effort to monitor progress on the Sustainable Development Goals.
As the SDGs are integrated into various government policies, Indonesia needs to monitor progress through citizen feedback – which is difficult to accomplish while governing a culturally diverse archipelago of more than 18,000 islands. Indonesian, the country’s official language, is the mother tongue of just 7% of its 242 million people, which makes it difficult for public servants to track public discourse, both through official channels and social media.
Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development and Planning and the United Nations partnered to create Pulse Lab Jakarta, an innovation hub that brings together cross-sector partners to test tech solutions to social problems. In 2016, Pulse Lab developed Translator Gator, an online language game that aims to build taxonomies of the island-state’s lesser-known languages and dialects – many of which face the threat of extinction, as originally reported by GovInsider.
“We try to capture different words, such as slang, that might not be captured by professional translators. The different dictionaries will then enable computational social research,” said Yulistina Riyadi. a research associate at Pulse Lab Jakarta. “We aim to tap into the wisdom of the crowd.”
“In time, we hope that the dictionaries will inform research and shape public policy,” said Riyadi.
Through Translator Gator, citizens translate words and phrases related to the SDGs from English to their native languages. Users are rewarded with points for translations, which they can cash in for phone credit. In just four months, Translator Gator received some 109,000 contributions, which helped create taxonomies for six of the country’s native languages. The data generated by the game is used to drive policy research and implementation. In just one year, Translator Gator has expanded to the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member states and Sri Lanka.
The users are asked to translate words, rank others’ interpretations, suggest synonyms and sort words and phrases in to categories. The local languages include Jawa, Sunda, Minang, Bugis and Melayu.
According to Pulse Lab’s analysis, the crowdsourced translations are more than 97% accurate. Alongside monitoring the quality of the translations, the Lab quantifies the data and creates visualisations for government.
The Indonesian government and the UNDP provide key words in English for translation and promote the initiative. About 90% of Pulse Lab’s funding comes from Indonesia’s Ministry of Development and Planning; the remaining 10% is funded by the UNDP. The Australian government also provided funding for Translator Gator.
In April 2017, Pulse Lab launched the second version of Translator Gator, which is aimed at improving Indonesia’s disaster response. The user translations, which are focused on disaster-related keywords, will allow national government to better communicate with the country’s smaller island populations and understand how they respond to calamities.
“It’s caused a stir among networks of language geeks in participating countries and raised awareness of natural disasters and the need to prepare,” said Riyadi.
According to the UN, Asia Pacific is one of the world’s most disaster-prone regions. At least 160 natural disasters took place in 2015, leading to the loss of thousands of lives and an economic burden of more than $45.1 billion.
(Picture credit: Flickr/Adam Cohn)