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contributed talk
Workshop: Machine Learning for the Developing World (ML4D): Improving Resilience

Contributed Talk 3: Accurate and Scalable Matching of Translators to Displaced Persons for Overcoming Language Barriers

Thomas Vetterli


Residents of developing countries are disproportionately susceptible to displacement as a result of humanitarian crises. During such crises, language barriers impede aid workers in providing services to those displaced. To build resilience, such services must be flexible and robust to a host of possible languages. Anonymous(1) aims to overcome these barriers by providing a platform capable of matching bilingual volunteers to displaced persons or aid workers in need of translating. However, Anonymous’s large pool of translators comes with the challenge of selecting the right translator per request. In this paper, we describe a machine learning system capable of matching translator requests to volunteers at scale. We demonstrate that a simple logistic regression, operating on easily computable features, can accurately predict and rank translator response. In deployment, this lightweight system matches 82% of requests with a median response time of 59 seconds, allowing aid workers to accelerate their services supporting displaced persons.