Memphis puts its new multilingual portal on the Web

Memphis, Tenn., home to Beale Street, barbecue and the blues, is also home to a rapidly growing Hispanic community. The 2000 Census shows that the Hispanic population of the Memphis area's Shelby County more than tripled in the 1990s, growing from 7,091 in 1990 to 23,644 in 2000. The total U.S. Hispanic population grew by 58 percent in the same decade.

This summer the city launched a portal for Spanish-speaking Memphis residents at www.cityofmemphis.org. Clicking on a link marked Espa'ol in the top right corner takes visitors to the Spanish portal.

'We want to make sure we're not leaving anybody out,' said Memphis CIO Abe Kani.

Quilogy Inc. of St. Charles, Mo., and Affiliated Computer Services Inc. of Dallas worked with the city to create the portal. The companies met with Memphis' Multicultural and Religious Affairs Office and members of the city's Hispanic community for help in designing the Web site.

Members of the Hispanic community said they wanted the same online functions the site already offered'including paying traffic tickets and reporting illegal dumping'but they didn't want a word-for-word translation from English into Spanish, said Dan Weddle, general manager of Quilogy. They wanted information about theatrical, musical and cultural events of interest to the Hispanic community, Weddle said. They also wanted information on immigration, education, police and city government.

The site uses Microsoft Active Server Pages software, .Net management products and Microsoft Internet Information Server, Weddle said. The site accesses the city's Microsoft SQL Server databases, said Travis Dickson, a senior consultant with Quilogy.

City officials are looking at plans to offer the site in Vietnamese.

'We've made a commitment to change the way we do business,' Kani said. 'We're not just jumping on the bandwagon.'

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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