AI Translation For Central Stations

Feb. 23, 2024
On-the-fly translation software found at CES could be a game-changer for the security monitoring industry

This article originally appeared as part of the industry’s ONLY full CES show coverage in the February 2024 issue of Security Business magazine. Don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter if you share it.

LAS VEGAS – Imagine you are a security call center operator. You receive an alarm signal and start calling the customer’s phone tree. On the second ring, someone picks up and responds in a language you don’t recognize or understand. What do you do? 

Traditionally, it meant putting the caller on hold and attempting to determine what language is being spoken. Then the operator contacts a translation service, either because they cannot determine the language, or because they need a live pay-by-minute interpreter to conference in and act as a go-between for caller and operator.

How long does that take? It depends on those and other factors, and as we all know, in an alarm situation, time matters.

Is there a better way? A Salt Lake City-based company I discovered at CES says they have one, and it could be a game-changer for the security monitoring industry.

OneMeta has created software capable of plugging into a call center’s infrastructure that uses AI to determine and translate 150 languages and dialects in real time.

How does it work? CEO Saul Leal walked me through the process, using the example of a caller speaking in Portuguese: “First, the language is determined – Portuguese – but is it Portuguese from Brazil? Portugal? Is it Portuguese from an island in Africa or from Mozambique?

“The AI can identify the dialect, and then it will translate to the target language, which I assume is English,” Leal adds. “At that point, you get an automated, on-the-fly transcript with the English and Portuguese on screen. As I am pronouncing my words in English, it will be forecast and transcribed on the fly and put into context.”

It doesn’t end there. Leal demonstrated – via a phone line – how the system enables live, two-way translation for both sides of the call. “The operator can speak in English and it will say it back to the person in Portuguese [and vice-versa],” Leal explains.

“Translation services are essential to professional monitoring, but the traditional language services may add precious time to important calls,” explains Jim McMullen, President of COPS Monitoring. “By leveraging AI to offer real-time translation between an alarm dispatcher and a customer, we have the opportunity to overcome language barriers to provide more seamless communication during critical moments. Where speed, clarity, and understanding can make a difference between safety and vulnerability, this approach not only garners more trust by bridging language gaps, but also strengthens security-related services.”

Leal says the AI can also detect emotion in a voice, such as panic, but is hesitant to promise 100% accuracy there. “We want to use AI for transcription, but I am more reserved when it comes to interpretation. If someone is panicking or screaming, there are many variables and background sounds.”

Leal says the software can be integrated into a call center’s infrastructure at the cloud level or the switch level, and that it is compliant with SOC II, HIPAA, and ISO 27001.

“We invite anyone in the monitoring industry to try this out in their own call centers,” Leal says. “We will [enable them] to try it out and test the user experience.”  

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Business magazine. Email him your comments and questions at [email protected]. Access the current issue, full archives, and apply for a free subscription at