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New AI system in western Japan city expected to reduce transcription work by 40%

The Otsu Municipal Government building is seen in the city of Otsu. (Mainichi/Hiroaki Hama)

OTSU -- Officials in this city in the western Japan prefecture of Shiga have introduced a system employing artificial intelligence (AI) to transcribe the minutes of meetings -- a move expected to vastly reduce the time required for the task.

Based on demonstration testing in July, the system is expected to reduce the time it takes to take down the content of meetings by about 40%.

Last fiscal year, the Otsu Municipal Government spent around 1,500 hours transcribing 416 meeting recordings from 39 departments. This was done by having workers listen to and transcribe them, but at times noise in the recordings made it difficult to hear what was said, and it took time to accurately take down the minutes of the meetings.

To improve efficiency of the task, the city collaborated with a private IT company and introduced a new recording system. With the new system, when a microphone is used, recording begins automatically, and a transcription is produced by the AI system. Afterward, it is reviewed by city workers. During a demonstration experiment, its level of accuracy, including proper nouns, was around 80 percent.

City workers praised the launch of the new system, saying that it had saved them time and effort. A representative of the municipal government's innovation lab commented, "In the future, too, we want to consider the introduction of advanced technologies that could lead to streamlining of work."

(Japanese original by Yusuke Konishi, Otsu Bureau)

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