Online translation feature of Taichung City Government web site has been highly praised since its launch. It not only eliminates the language barriers among our colleagues but also effectively narrow down the digital divide commonly found on the bilingual web pages in the past.
A. Preface-- The advent of digital era has made the Internet a must in daily communication and transmission of information. The Research, Development, and Evaluation Commission, Executive Yuan has already issued quidelines to promote an international living environment and to enhance English capacity among the general public. Following those quidelines and meeting the needs of a special municipality after the merger of Taichung city and county, the Taichung City Government has thus constructed the integrated English website services platform to facilitate document translation and provide bilingual website services. It is hoped that this plateform can help build up an English-speaking environment and serve as a base to move this government towards internationalization.
B. Why to establish the English website-- According to the statistics of Labor Affairs Bureau of Taichung City Government and the National Immigration Agency of Ministry of the Interior, there are about 155,000 foreign nationals living in Taichung City: Among them, 53,000 are foreign workers, 60,000 are holders of valid residence permits, and 42,000 are foreign spouses. After the merger of Taichung city and county, our English website had about 50,000 visitors every month. To accelerate the pace of internationalization, this government decided to build up an integrated English website services platform that can provide all kinds of living information to foreign nationals. According to the statistics of Information Management Center, host unit of the website, the new English website services platform, which has officially begun operation since February 1, 2012, had more than 70,000 visitors in February, 300,000 in March, 240,000 in April, and 240,000 in May. It is expected that the number of visitors will remain stable at 240,000 every month. It is hoped that those mobile services we provide on the Internet can transcend national boundaries and help Taichung City to keep the honor of being one the top Intelligent Communities in the world.
C. Online translation system overcomes language barriers-- In the past, English websites were constructed and maintained by each agency or unit in the Taichung City Government. As a result, quality of the web pages differed greatly. Common problems included lack of English professionals, lack of regular content update, very low update frequency, poorly designed web types, lack of funding for maintenance and follow-up operation, lack of information from business units, and lcak of understanding to the needs of foreign readers. After the merger of city and county, we began to tackle the above-mentioned problems, resulting in the construction of the new English website platform, which targets mainly on non-Chinese speaking foreign visitors. Taking the needs of foreigners into consideration, we have thus designed the web contents into six service-oriented domains, namely Living, Transportation, Tourism, Business, Education, and City Government. Chang, Chung-chi (張忠吉), Director of Information Management Center, said, "The English portal of a government agency used to literally translate Chinese into English. The new English services platform of Taichung City Government is the first English website in Taiwan that has been designed and built taking the viewpoints of foreigners. It should help a great deal for the city's marketing and internationalization.” The process flow of English website services platform allows users in each agency or unit to write their messages in either Chinese or English. The system will then automatically check and send the messages to the Translation Center, where our commissioned translation companies carry out online translation. The drafts are then proof-read and edited by the user unit before they are published online on the specified dates. The online translation feature has been highly praised since its launch. It not only eliminates the language barriers among our colleagues but also effectively narrow down the digital divide commonly found on the bilingual web pages in the past.
D. Life@Taichung-- The newly constructed integrated English website services platform provides not only traditional English website serives but also Life@Taichung services. Constructed by integrated seamless broadband multimedia technology, the new Web Apps named as Life@Taichung provides information about Taichung City in English, which a user can view through his or her mobile devices whose operating system can be either iOS or Android and whose screen can be of any size. Users can download and install the Web Apps—Life@Taichung free of charge from Apple AppStore or Google Apps Market to view six service functions, including City News, City Tour, Transportation, Service Hotline 1999, City Government, and Learning Chinese. The Apps contents are directly offered by the English website of Taichung City Government. Users can upload and update data through the safe and convenient Admin interface. It is expected that new messages and services will be further provided in the future.
E. Download of Web Apps-- Free Web Apps—Life@Taichung provided by the English website services platform of Taichung City Government was officially launched on January 16, 2012. From then to April 30, 2012, there were readers in more than 20 foreign countries downloaded it through Apple AppStore or Google Play and installed it in their mobile devices (iOS or Android smart phones and/or tablet PCs) to view the services provided by Taichung City Government
F. Results-- It is worthwhile to expose the excellent and unique Taichung to the world. In response to the vigorous development of the cultural creative industry and electronic technology, it is also our hope that through the integrated English website services platform, we can assist all our colleagues in each agency or unit to overcome their language barriers and to offer our friends in different countries with a convenient mode to travel in Taichung by fingertip. All our efforts at the Information Management Center have cumulated into the launch of "Integrated English Services Website and Multimedia Platform for Cultural and Creative Capital in Taichung” for which we held a ceremony at 10:00 on January 19, 2012 at the Lobby of Hui-zhong Building, Taichung City Hall (see Figure 5). It was our great honor to have Hsiao, Chia-chi (蕭家淇, Deputy Mayor of Taichung City), and Ho Quan-de (何全德, Director of Research, Development, and Evaluation Commission, Executive Yuan) to deliver speeches and 3 foreign English teachers, including Jeffery Parker, to perform an action drama (see Figure 6). The event was reported on 12 major domestic media on January 19 and 20, making a good propaganda for our English website.
G. Appendix-- The event was reported by the following media up to the date of January 20, 2012
China Times Newsletter
United Daily News
Taiwan Shin Sheng Daily News
Broadcasting Corporation of China
National Broadcasting Corporation
National Education Radio
Asian Economic News Agency
Keng Sheng Daily News
Xin Media (a reproduced article)
Hung Jing-hong, reporter of United Daily News (video posted)
Reading Taichung _ Cit Focus (February 2012)