The ATA Chronicle - July/August 2020 - 26

REMOTE SIMULTANEOUS INTERPRETING HUBS
OR PLATFORMS: WHAT'S THE BEST OPTION? continued

HUBS: MAIN CHARACTERISTICS

RSI PLATFORMS: MAIN CHARACTERISTICS

*	 Interpreters are co-located.

*	 No co-location.

*	 Qualified technician is onsite.

*	 Some platforms provide remote technical support.

*	 Ensures the quality and continuity of the data connection.

*	 Connectivity problems may arise.

*	 Safeguards the confidentiality of all communications.

*	 Your connection may not be safe.

*	 Provides a private, soundproof setting.

*	 You must create the right work setting at home.

*	 Provides interpreting consoles or interpreter interfaces.

*	 You work with a PC.

*	 Ensures that the interpreter has access to conference documents and can
view them live as they are displayed to the audience.

*	 Handover is difficult.
*	 Relay restrictions.
*	 Power may go out.
*	 Interpreter is in charge of most technical aspects.

they work under the same technical
conditions as being onsite. By contrast,
RSI platforms are like aircraft that the
interpreter has to fly alone, with plenty
of buttons but no automatic pilot.
Hubs and RSI platforms involve two
different distance interpreting (DI)
setups. The table above summarizes the
main characteristics of each one.

HUBS: ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES
Let's analyze hubs first. Most hubs
are compliant with the International
Organization for Standardization's
(ISO) standards for simultaneous
interpreting (ISO 201081 and 201092).
This means that they meet the technical
requirements set for quality and
transmission of sound and image to
interpreters and from interpreters to
participants, and for the configuration
of the interpreter's working
environment. The interpreter works via
video and audio feed remotely from the
event venue.
Hubs provide three main advantages:
1. Co-Location and Technical
Support: Simultaneous interpreting
(SI) is about teamwork. In a hub
environment the interpreter can rely on
their boothmate as much as in an inperson setting, whether the interpreter
needs to switch turns more often, needs
help on a particular word or figure,
experiences a technical glitch on the
console, or has a coughing fit! As such,
the interpreter only needs to focus
26

The ATA Chronicle | July/August 2020

on the interpreting task (a task that's
already a "multi-task").
2. Technical Support: A qualified
technician is in charge of all the
technical aspects, securing the
appropriate working conditions at all
times. Usually hubs support backup
systems to prevent any connectivity
issues from jeopardizing the event.

The downside of hubs is that
by being away from the event
venue, interpreters miss plenty of
information that they usually gather
by being there.

3. No Relay Restrictions: Hubs
can accommodate several language
combinations, so no relay restrictions
exist in the case of multilingual events.
The downside of hubs is that by
being away from the event venue,
interpreters miss plenty of information
that they usually gather by being there.
This includes not only being debriefed
by speakers and meeting moderators,
but also picking up information
first-hand that can have an impact
on the development of the event. Big
conferences or face-to-face events
are not just about what happens on
the main stage, but also about what

transpires in the exhibition rooms and
break-out sessions. Coffee breaks are
a good opportunity for attendees to
network and for interpreters to collect
additional information they can use to
enhance their work in the booth when
sessions resume. All that is missing in a
hub environment.

RSI PLATFORMS:
ADVANTAGES/DISADVANTAGES
Compared to hubs, the disadvantages
outweigh the advantages. RSI platforms
do not fully comply with ISO
interpreting requirements and are still
going through a trial-and-error period.
Some work better than others but none
are entirely error-free yet and need
further development to come close to
the efficiency of traditional interpreting
equipment.
These platforms are like a cake
you pull out of the oven five minutes
early because you're starving. It may
taste good, but it has neither the right
color nor the right texture. With RSI
platforms, you can tell those five
minutes are missing.
The main disadvantages of RSI
platforms are:
No Co-Location: When working
through platforms, and even if two
interpreters are involved, they are
usually not co-located, which hinders
the support process. In a booth
situation, mutual assistance is an
intuitive, almost automatic act. When
using an RSI platform, however,
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