Why the asylum centres at Hemsedal use TikkTalk

Finance director Mark Howie at Hemsedal asylum centres explains why his centres use TikkTalk for booking interpreters.


Mark Howie from Hemsedal asylum centres use TikkTalk for booking interpreters

– We’re very pleased with TikkTalk. We save money at the same time as we know we’re getting qualified interpreters [from Tolkeportalen.no, level 1-5, ed.], says Mark Howie, finance director at Hemsedal asylum centres in Norway.

Howie is originally from Australia, and has worked with establishing asylum centres in Norway since the refugee crisis in 2015

– I was just speaking to everyone here about TikkTalk, and they only have good things to say. Everyone who books an interpreter gets a quick response, he says.

– The straight-forward booking system saves us time. And since everything is automated, the interpreters get a larger share of the fee for every assignment, instead of money going to administration costs.

Cheaper and better

Before they started using TikkTalk, the asylum centres in Hemsedal had tried two traditional interpreter agencies.

– They weren’t good enough. The first agency supplied interpreters without qualifications, and we could hear the interpreters doing other thing while interpretering over the phone, Howie explains.

In Norway, the Directorate of Integration and Diversity (IMDi) is the only body authorised to grant official interpreter qualifications. Read more about the qualification levels for interpreters here.

– The second agency was disorganised. They sent us invoices for interpretation sessions we hadn’t completed. There was a lot of errors and not much information, he continues.

– So it was great that TikkTalk could deliver a better service for a cheaper price.


The asylum centres in Hemsedal have already booked over 60 interpretation sessions from TikkTalk in just four months, and now only book qualified interpreters.

– How many interpretation sessions we have to book varies, but usually it’s between five and ten each week, Howie continues.

– The languages we need interpreters for are Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Kurdish and several others. And TikkTalk delivers for all the languages.

Porsanger municipality in northern Norway has also discovered the advantages of TikkTalk. Read how they use technology to help refugees here [Norwegian].

Overall, Howie has no complaints about TikkTalk’s digital marketplace.

– We’ll definitely continue using TikkTalk for booking interpreters, he says.



If you want to learn more about how TikkTalk can help you, register here for free, or call us on +47 400 55 945.

Helse Førde and TikkTalk’s pilot project is now live

Hospitals in the Helse Førde region have started using TikkTalk’s system, in a pilot to improve access to interpreters when treating foreign language patients.

TikkTalk-tolk bruker skjermtolking med lege og pasient i Helse Førde

Innovative: The project allows for increased use of video interpretation, here demonstrated with a video link between Førde Central Hospital and Oslo Science Park.

In early July, the emergency room at Førde Central Hospital became the first department at Helse Førde to start using TikkTalk. Throughout the year, TikkTalk will gradually begin covering interpretation bookings for the hospital region.

Read more about the project here: TikkTalk and Helse Førde sign NOK 14 million innovation contract

The pilot is a public research project funded by Innovation Norway and Helse Vest. TikkTalk has worked closely with Helse Førde to continually adapt and improve the TikkTalk system to fit the hospitals’ requirements.

The pilot project has previously been covered by Norwegian national broadcaster NRK, IT magazine Computerworld, and health care magazine Dagens Medisin. The interpretation service at Oslo University Hospital also wrote about the project on their blog, and met with project leader Nyonga Rugumayo Amundsen.

According to the Norwegian government register of interpreters – Tolkeportalen.no – about 60 per cent of certified interpreters in Norway (level 1-3) live in and around the capital, with many also concentrated around other major cities. That leaves large parts of the country with little direct access to interpreters.

The pilot project therefore aims to help pave the way for improved access to interpreters in hospitals across Norway, particularly outside central regions.

Grafikk som viser fordeling av kvalifiserte tolker i forskjellige norske fylker

Centralised: Certified interpreters in Norway mainly live in and around the country’s largest cities. This creates challenges for interpretation in other areas of the country.

TikkTalk at Dagens Næringsliv’s disruption conference

What does disruption mean in Norway? Wednesday 15 March, Norwegian business newspaper Dagens Næringsliv will try to answer the question. Business leaders in Norway, including our own CEO, Gautam, will discuss how new technology displaces old business models.


 Picture: DNKonferanse


Disruption in Norway

This week, Dagens Næringsliv is hosting one of its large conferences and the topic is disruption. Disruption isn’t common parlance in Norwegian yet, but is directly translated from English into Norwegian as “disrupsjon”. Regardless, the point is the same: to highlight what new technology and new business models mean for Norwegian businesses.

For startups such as TikkTalk, disruption simply means using new technology to solve old problems. Many service professions are for instance still dominated by old-fashioned methods for organising labour. People, cars, houses and other resources are not being used, even though there are people needing just those resources. And the only reason is that we have no good way of connecting those who can help with those who need help.

That is also the topic for Gautam’s presentation for Dagens Næringsliv’s audience. A lot of people speak more than one language, and a lot of people don’t speak the language they need in a given situation. Why not connect the two groups?


Disrupsjon: Gautam Chandna på scenen under Dagens Næringslivs Gasellekonferanse

Disruption for interpreters

The interpretation sector in Norway, and beyond, is a very good example of an industry that is organised in an old-fashioned and inefficient manner. Certified and educated interpreters are not used for interpretation assignments for police, hospitals, and other government institutions and private businesses. The certified interpreters are available, but proper mechanisms to connect them with interpretation users have never existed. This is the problem TikkTalk is now trying to solve.

Additionally, all across the world people sometimes need the help of a bilingual in a everyday situations. Just imagine how difficult it is to find your way to a meeting in a city you don’t know, full of people who don’t speak your language, or how tricky it can be to explain to a taxi driver abroad where you are going. The refugee crisis and increased tourism have only increased the number of these simple, yet also difficult, problems.

In these situations, TikkTalk also wants to connect people, here through a simple app. Then those who speak the same language can help each other understand others. That will not only make everyday life easier for many individuals; it will also create a broader understanding that can connect refugees closer to the people in the country they are fleeing to.

This is what disruption is all about: solving problems for individuals and societies as a whole, by using technology to make everyday life easier for everyone. We at TikkTalk think interpretation and communication across the world is ripe for disruption. We hope you agree, and we hope to see you at Dagens Næringsliv’s disruption conference Wednesday 15 March.

Learn more about TikkTalk's interpretation technology here

Open house at Oslo Science Park

On Thursday 2 February, Oslo Science Park is opening its doors. Across six floors, the park hosts some of Norway’s most exciting tech companies and research institutions.

Gathering of people at the Oslo Science Park

As one of the park’s growing tech startups, TikkTalk will speak at the event. We have long been connected to StartupLab, Norway’s leading tech incubator and one of the park’s foremost tenants. For the last few months, we have also been working from the medtech incubator Aleap, alongside Oslo MedTech. Ever since TikkTalk was founded, it’s been invaluable for us to be a part of such a knowledgeable and engaging environment.

From 2.30pm, our CEO, Gautam, will speak about how TikkTalk is using new technology to solve old problems. Every day, we work hard to find the best solutions for the interpretation sector in Norway and beyond. We want to tell people how we work with technology for interpretation, and also learn more from other innovative companies.

Man smiling

Gautam Chandna, TikkTalk’s CEO and one of the three co-founders. When Oslo Science Park opens its doors, Gautam will present TikkTalk’s work.

If you want to learn more about how TikkTalk works to transform the interpretation sector, we would love to hear from you. Please leave a message below or get in touch with us on Facebook.

We want to hear from you! Leave a message here.

6 + 6 =

Meet Aman, our community manager

Aman is TikkTalk’s community manager. Aman previously worked as an interpreter, and was also an active user of interpretation services during his time running an asylum reception centre in Otta, Norway. Here, Aman tells a bit more about himself and shares his tips for interpreters.

Man standing infront of TikkTalk logo smiling at camera

Aman Tesfamichael has worked both as an interpreter and he has experience using interpretation services. Now he is TikkTalk’s community manager, tasked with creating a community amongst the TikkTalk interpreters.

“My name is Aman Tesfamichael and I’ve worked for TikkTalk since November 2016. My task is to create a sense of community amongst our interpreters”, says Aman, “At TikkTalk, we know that freelance interpreters often miss a place to meet other interpreters, so we want to make sure they have one.”

“TikkTalk is not an interpretation agency, but a tech company. So the way we want to create a community is for instance through events or online discussions”, he says.

“Our internal Facebook group for interpreters, TikkTalkersis a great example of that. There, we give interpreters a closed forum so that they can share their experiences and help each other.”

Started as an interpreter

Aman does not have an official certification as an interpreter, but he has still worked professionally as an interpreter between Norwegian, English and Tigrinya for the health and asylum services in Norway.

“The fact that I’ve worked as an interpreter, means that I’m familiar with the interpreter working day”, says Aman, “At the same time, we know that there are major differences between certified interpreters, other professional interpreters and bilinguals.”

“One of the most important things we do at TikkTalk is to clearly inform clients about interpreters’ different qualification levels. That way, we can ensure that certified interpreters are always used when certifications are required.”

Aman’s tips for interpreters

The three most important things for those who use interpretation services:

After working as an interpreter, Aman began running an asylum reception centre in rural Norway. Suddenly he found himself on the ‘other side’, and started using interpretation services himself.

“When I ran the asylum centre, I frequently had to use interpreters”, says Aman, “It was definitely a new experience. And I soon learned that three things were particularly important when using interpretation services: availability, price, and quality when committing to an agency.”

“First of all, I had to have access to interpreters when I needed them”, he says, “We tried using interpreters during day time only, but in an asylum centre you sometimes need an interpreter around the clock.”

“Additionally, I was naturally concerned about price. I wanted to know how much of the money I paid went to the interpreter, and how much went to the agency”, he continues.

“Finally, quality and freedom were important. If I were to commit to a contract with an agency, I had to know that they provided quality. But what I really wanted was the option to use the interpreters I wanted, without any contracts or other commitments”, says Aman.

The three biggest worries for those who use interpretation services:

Aman explains that booking an interpreter could lead him to worry about many things.

“The worst case scenario was interpreters not showing up”, he says, “Booking an interpreter was not my main job at the asylum centre. It was a means to an end. So it was very important that the process went smoothly, so I could focus on my actual job.”

“The price could also sometimes be a problem. Of course, you have to pay to get quality will of course cost money, but if the relationship between what you pay and what you get isn’t right, it’s not a good thing”, says Aman, “If you get the quality you pay for, it’s absolutely worth it, though. A good interpreter can save you a lot of time and money in the long run.”

“Also, I sometimes encountered interpreters who were not serious about their job, and who wanted to do more than just interpret. That was bad. And some of the interpreters did not come across as neutral”, he says.

“An interpreter could for instance stop the conversation and tell me ‘he doesn’t understand this and that’ or ‘in our culture, it’s like this’. Then I had to take the interpreter aside and tell him or her to stop.”

Get in touch

Every day Aman talks to interpreters who want more assignments. The TikkTalk marketplace is still new, so the number of assignments increase with every passing month.

“I really want to hear more about what interpreters think about our digital platform”, says Aman, “We always try to improve our services. And the best way of doing it, is to get feedback from the people who use the services.”

If you want to find interpretation assignments through TikkTalk, you can register for free here. And if you have already signed up, or if you have questions about being a TikkTalker, please join our Facebook group.

Three quick questions for Aman:

  1. What do you do when you don’t work for TikkTalk?

When I’m not working, I spend time with my friends, travelling and exploring Oslo. A lot has changed since I last lived here.

  1. You have lived in Oslo, Harstad, New York, Asmara and Otta – which place did you like the best?

Of all the places I’ve lived, New York tops the list. There wasn’t enough hours in the day to do everything you wanted to do there. It was really exciting to see and do things you can’t experience in Norway. At the same time, I think there’s a lot of exciting stuff happening in Oslo right now. I see that people get a lot of inspiration from the US and New York.

  1. Who is your role model?

I don’t have one person I see as my role model. But I always work to reach my full potential and make use of all the opportunities I have. So in a way you could say that a version of me who uses his full potential, is my role model.