Ramallah, once a small predominantly Christian town of 12,000 residents in 1967, transformed into the de facto political capital of Palestine with the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in 1994. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics reports that today approximately 35,000 persons permanently reside in the West Bank city, and more than 120,000 pack its streets during the week. The municipality plans to again transform the city, this time into a “smart city.”
In 2011, Ramallah lacked almost the entire basic technological infrastructure required to build a smart city. Today, Safaa Aldwaik, director of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for the Ramallah municipality, is working hard to change that. Aldwaik, who earned two master's degrees and a doctorate in geography from Clark University, returned to Ramallah in 2011 to build the municipality's first GIS platform. She electronically mapped all of Ramallah, including its public infrastructure, and integrated GIS into almost all of the municipality's departments.