ELSA is a mobile language translation system designed for first responders, government agencies, health care, and financial services among the end users. Live translators interact with the user and client. This service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. My department recently received two test and evaluation devices from RTT Mobile Interpretation, the developer.
An ELSA device is a simple black box that is made to be clipped to the belt of the user. With the push of a button, live translators are available over a wireless network to assist with translating a mind boggling 180 different languages and dialects. Four small microphones on the top of the unit capture the voices. A large speaker lets the users hear the translator.
The interface is made to be as elementary as possible. It has one big cop-proof button that powers the unit on and off and serves as the menu button. Once ELSA is powered on, a user can push the main button once for Spanish and twice to reach an operator for any other language. Hey, that was easy. A Power Point presentation that is available to users suggests that the user gives the mobile interpreter a brief description about the nature of the translation at the outset.
A user should talk directly to the client, speaking clearly and in a normal voice. The conversation is picked up by microphones on the top of the device. Only one question at a time should be asked. Everything that is said will be translated once the process begins. Patience is a must. The call should end definitively. Recorded translations can replayed and downloaded via RTT’s secure on-line website. Text translations are also uploaded to the site.
The Clearwater, FL Police Department and the Lawrenceville, IN Police Department are currently using the ELSA system for mobile translations. Our experience was that ELSA worked well, but we had some transmission interferance that is frequently experienced by cellular phones inside of our police headquarters. Other than that, the detective who used it (for Spanish) said the translation went well.
RTT says the ELSA system is a cost-effective way to provide better service to visitors, tourists, and non-English speakers in your community. I can see that having a few of these devices available to officers in a global destination such as Florida would be very useful.