The EU is providing provided Ecu2.2 million to fund a multimillion dollar project to ease computer translation of documents in EU institutions, starting with the police.
The project, Sensus, will focus first on the law enforcement sector, and involves 11 European nations and Europol, Europe's crime enforcement agency. Sensus is designed to help Europol's fight against illegal immigration and organised crime.
"There have been many communication problems within Europe because member states are allowed to communicate in their own language. Sensus' main focus is to provide access to information on a multilingual basis," said Gregor Thurmaier, head of language programmes at Gesellschaft fuer Multilinguale Systeme (GMS), the Munich based research company involved in the project.
Sensus' aim is to provide technology for multilingual communication. It is being tested in Spain, with a machine translation system enabling text to be translated within seconds.
Launched on 1 June 1998, Sensus will run over two years and have two phases. The first will concentrate on Europol, with enforcement officers defining the nature of their workload, and the tools needed to develop this.
The second phase will see the project put into practice, with selected companies delivering aspects of the technology developed so far.
As well as being a tool for translation, Sensus will also develop resources for data mining, retrieving information, generating reports and ensuring secure communication.
The European Commission is being joined in the project by police organisations from each member state, and European companies with interests in research, technology and security, such as the Copenhagen Business School.
Sensus follows on from the EU's research project, Aventinus, which was part of the Telematics Application Programme and included Belgium's speech products firm Lernout & Hauspie as a partner.
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