On December 28, 2020, the United Nations requested expressions of interest (EOIs) from “qualified providers” of remote simultaneous interpreting (RSI) services for a three-year contract at the UN Headquarters in New York. EOIs will be accepted until January 31, 2021.
The announcement comes just one year after the January 2020 Conferencing Fair in Geneva, during which the UN hosted a “bake-off” featuring remote interpreting platforms, machine translation providers, and speech-to-text technology. Of course, the tender also coincides with the skyrocketing demand for remote interpreting due to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns.
Candidates must be able to provide RSI in the six official languages of the UN (Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish), plus up to six unspecified additional languages “as required.”
The UN plans to integrate the selected platform within existing on-premises audiovisual systems as well as other collaborative tools. The RSI platform must enable interpreters to work in three modes: fully remote, in booths at UN Headquarters, and in hybrid mode with some interpreters working remotely and others, on-site.
Naturally, an organization as far-reaching as the UN requires RSI at scale, and the platform should allow for more than 300 active participants and more than 1,000 non-active “event viewers.”
According to the announcement, the ideal provider will demonstrate “nearest possible compliance” with ISO standards20108, 20109, and the ISO/PAS 24019 (for simultaneous interpreting delivery platforms).