Estonian software company Cybernetica is cooperating with the Palestinian ministry of telecommunications and information technology to modernise the foundations of digital society in the territory.
The Tallinn-based software company partners with the ministry to upgrade the Palestinian territories’ current data exchange layer for digital services to Cybernetica’s unified exchange platform, also known as UXP. The company will provide the scalable technical platform along with knowledge transfer that will pave the way for any future development of digital services, Cybernetica said in a statement.
According to the company, the Palestinian territories were one of the first regions outside of Estonia to implement the X-Road data exchange layer – an Estonian software-based solution that by connecting different information systems, allows a wide range of digital services from both private and public sector – and Cybernetica has been one of the partners in this process since the very beginning.
“Today, there are around 50 public agencies connected – interoperability has been achieved in and between various domains like healthcare or citizen life events,” Cybernetica said.
Palestine’s drive to provide digital services
“Given the long-term IT development strategy that centres around secure data exchange in Palestine, moving from an obsolete version of X-Road to the latest UXP release is a necessary step to achieve a future proof way to increase the number of organisations connected and services provided via the data exchange platform.”
Ishaq Sider, the Palestinian minister responsible, said in a statement that the project was a “part of the government’s endeavour to improve the quality of services provided to citizens, promote the performance of Palestinian e-government, and provide electronic services to citizens”.
“The national data exchange layer UXP is the backbone for digital data exchange between institutions and also serves the digital payment project, which will provide government services and pay their fees electronically through the unified digital government services portal, which is the window for all government institutions and agencies to provide their services electronically,” Sider said. “After the upgrade, data exchange and service provision will be possible with all sectors, especially the business sector.”
According to Oliver Väärtnõu, the CEO at Cybernetica, the aim of the partnership is not only to upgrade the technology currently in use, but also to facilitate the further development of information society in the Palestinian territories. In addition to implementing its UXP, the company will also provide initial training as well as technical support and advisory until 2026.
One of the key architects of the digital state
Cybernetica’s history goes back a long time – the company was established as a private limited company in 1997 as the successor of the applied research unit of the Institute of Cybernetics of the Academy of Sciences of Estonia, established in 1960.
Over the last 20 years, the company has been one of the key partners in developing Estonian digital governance solutions. Its expertise ranges from digital identity technologies to secure data exchange, online voting, digital customs, information security and situational awareness.
The Palestinian territories, bordering Jordan, Israel and Egypt, have a non-member observer status in the United Nations. Of the 193 member states of the UN, 138 have recognised it as a country as of 2019. Estonia and most other European countries, as well as Canada and the US, have not officially recognised it as a sovereign state.
Since 2007, there have been two separate administrations in the Palestinian territories, one in the West Bank (the government of the Palestinian Authority that Cybernetica deals with) and the other in the Gaza Strip (run by the Hamas – classified as a terrorist organisation by the European Union, Canada, Japan and the US).
Cover: Part of Ramallah, a Palestinian city in the central West Bank. Photo by Silver Tambur.