Software Developers Work With PP12, Create Medical Translation Technology

Story Number: NNS120805-03Release Date: 8/5/2012 9:16:00 PM
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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Feddersen, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SIHANOUKVILLE, Cambodia (NNS) -- U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) and Mobile Technologies teamed up with Pacific Partnership 2012 (PP12) Aug. 2, to develop medical translation software for use during the event of a natural disaster.

Researchers from PACOM and Mobile Technologies are collecting realistic data by recording dialogue between English speaking physicians, Khmer speaking translators and patients.

"The important thing is that we get realistic, relevant dialogue," said Scott Hourin, a U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, Experimentation Center representative. "We have done this in the past where we created medical scenarios and it works to a certain extent, but coming out here and collecting real dialogue and the local speech is important."

The software, called Jibbigo, is expected to allow for quick translation in the event of a disaster in the area. Jibbigo will give a disaster response team the flexibility to use human translators in more important areas.

"It isn't realistic to think it will replace interpreters," said Hourin, "but in a situation where there aren't enough translators, the program could be used at a station like patient registration, where it is simple interaction and low complexity dialogue going on back and forth. You could then potentially take interpreters from there and move them to where they are needed more, for instance with physicians."

Lt. Michael Wray, a physician at the Medical Civic Action Project (MEDCAP), said the software would likely make MEDCAPs operate faster and more efficiently.

"I think in a disaster response, the biggest benefit would be speed," he said. "Typically in a disaster response the administration effort and the manpower needed is extensive. With a system like this, it would allow us to better utilize the manpower we would have and process people at a much greater speed."

Hourin said similar systems have been used in the past and are still being developed in the Asia-Pacific region.

"We are also testing a system out in Thailand with English and Thai capabilities that is used alongside an interpreter," he said. "The difference is that the interpreter doesn't have to speak English. They are basically there to bridge the cultural divide, whether it be in a steady state environment like Pacific Partnership, or an actual disaster response."

Systems like Jibbigo have the potential to help during missions such as PP12 as well as actual disaster responses by utilizing assets and manpower to the fullest extent, maximizing patient care and efficiency while continuing to build stronger relationships with the local population.

Now in its seventh year, Pacific Partnership is a U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance mission U.S. military, host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and international organizations designed to build stronger relationships and disaster response capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region.

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