As I’ve been tracking the ongoing crisis in Syria I often felt I was only getting half the story not being able to read Arabic. This was especially frustrating when I’d check out all the rich data being generated by SyriaTracker.   Citizens in Syria are reporting on the violence through social media and text messages creating a unique perspective. Ushahidi via Crowdmap does brilliant work powering the platform, but my lack of language skills limited what I could understand.

Fortunately Crowdmap has a great data download button – one of our favorite features of any platform. So, I downloaded the data and pushed it up into Google Spreadsheets. Turns out Google Spreadsheets has this brilliant feature that allows you to insert a translation function to a data cell. You just plug in:

=GoogleTranslate(“text”, “source language”,”target language”)

For the language you use the two letter ISO code for the language, and the Goog supports over 40. Since I wanted to translate from Arabic to English I plugged in:

=GoogleTranslate(A1, “ar”, “en”)

Then I just cut and paste the equation to all the cells I wanted translated. You can find the results at this URL.  Then I grabbed the URL for the CSV link from the Google Spreadheet and loaded it into GeoCommons.  For specifics on linking Google Spreadsheets to GeoCommons check out the post here.  The end result was a dynamically linked dataset on GeoCommons that you can grab in a half dozen format or create maps/analysis with.

Can’t finish off without a custom map:

View map on GeoCommons


9 Responses to Using the Google Translate Function to Make Multilingual Maps in GeoCommons

  1. […] Using the Google Translate Function to Make Multilingual Maps in GeoCommons […]

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  7. Virgilio Shearier says:

    Web based translation have come a long way since the time they first appeared. At the very beginning, they would just translate text word by word, not regard any other aspects, this result in the translated text practically useless. Much of that has been changed with the emergence of the Google translation. It can now hand in pretty good translations of websites. But the web based translations still have some limitations. How should we decide whether we shall do the translation on the web or get a human translator involved? :’

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