Client Success Story: Putting Location Technology on the Map

Last Updated January 5, 2021

Native-language mapping makes location technology company the first choice for navigation.

The accuracy of the geospatial data used in mapping technology is a measure of how precisely a map conforms to the real world.

When that mapping technology is relied upon to move people, goods, and organizations safely and efficiently from A to B—whether the journey is through a busy city, across a crowded continent, or to the other side of the globe—the quality of that data is crucial.

So, when the company behind the world’s number-one location platform needed to create detailed mapping data in a variety of languages, they didn’t need a map to locate the best team for the job.

The Challenge

A Netherlands-based company with a mission to make transport safer and smarter has seen their initial ambition of creating digitized maps and in-car navigation systems extend beyond private transport to an array of vehicles across a diverse range of industries.

This pioneering company pride themselves on bringing together data and tools from multiple sources while upholding unfailing standards of accuracy, privacy, and compliance with data-protection laws and regulations.

With over 9,000 employees across 56 countries, they are a truly global company. Their mapping products and services are used in over 150 million vehicles around the world.

This expansion in the use of their products and services has involved phenomenal amounts of data regarding locations, road names, and places of interest—all of which required translation.

The scale and complexity of this translation task was huge, and presented the company with three problems:

  1. There were multiple combinations of source and target languages, some of which are relatively uncommon.
  2. A native knowledge of naming conventions, directions, and how navigation systems work was required to ensure accuracy in each location.
  3. The details provided would need to be updated on maps in real time, meaning translation speed was as crucial as accuracy.

The undertaking, therefore, was far more challenging than a typical translation project—which is why the company reached out to Summa Linguae Technologies (SLT).

The Solution

Our first task was to carry out a quantitative and qualitative assessment of the task at hand. A database containing all relevant terms (in a mix of languages) was supplied by the client.

The approximate number of places of interest (PoI) and road-names to be translated for each language combination was as follows:

  • English-to-Thai: 150,000 PoI
  • Arabic-to-French: 10,000 PoI
  • French-to-Arabic: 10,000 PoI
  • Amharic: 8,000 road names
  • German, Swedish, Dutch, Pinyin, Chinese: Various small volumes

Each piece of text was allocated a maximum time for translation and implementation: either 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours, 48 hours, or 6 working days.

Dedicated managers were assigned to ensure that no detail was overlooked and that each stage of the project was executed swiftly and seamlessly.

SLT also collaborated with many of the product’s end-users (mostly subject matter experts) who provided valuable information regarding priorities, criticality, and quality expectations.

Native speakers were sourced for each language that were not only skilled linguists, but also knowledgeable regarding their region’s topography and navigation.

Each piece of source data was then passed through a rigorous process of translation and/or transliteration (transferring a word from the alphabet of one language into a more familiar one to aid readability and pronunciation).

All details (such as spelling and grammar) were then verified before the new data was added to the live maps.

The Outcome

Our solution succeeded in providing the client with:

  • Comprehensive place-of-interest data in users’ own languages.
  • Accurate and detailed geospatial tagging, resulting in near real-time updates on maps and the navigation system.

Madhu Sundaramurthy, Managing Director APAC at SLT, explains the key factors that enabled such a successful solution to be delivered, and within very tight deadlines:

Madhu Sundaramurthy

Managing Director APAC, Summa Linguae Technologies

"Our ability to work with native resources in the required locations, plus the meticulous attention to detail provided by our team of project managers, ensured an outstanding degree of quality assurance. Clarity of clients expectations and priorities aided in successful execution."

To learn more about how Summa Linguae Technologies can empower your global technology, check out our localization services.

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