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Chief Executive Officer of Doroob Technologies, uses Doroob Navigator app

Palestinian app helps drivers avoid Israeli checkpoint bottlenecks

Doroob Navigator, designed by Palestinian app developers, navigate West Bank drivers through ever-changing checkpoint traffic and Israeli settlements, which apps like Google Maps and Waze do not account for

A new locally-developed app helps Palestinian drivers in the West Bank negotiate traffic at Israeli military checkpoints and uncover routes to towns mainstream providers often miss.

 

 

Launched in June and designed by Palestinians, Doroob Navigator crowd-sources road closures and traffic data from users. It aims to supplant apps like Google Maps and Waze, which rarely account for Israeli restrictions and struggle to navigate between Palestinian cities.

 

Chief Executive Officer of Doroob Technologies, uses Doroob Navigator application as he drives his car at an Israeli checkpoint in Ramallah
Chief Executive Officer of Doroob Technologies, uses Doroob Navigator application as he drives his car at an Israeli checkpoint in Ramallah
 

Israel cites security concerns in maintaining checkpoints in the area, but the roadblocks limit Palestinian mobility and damage their economy, according to the World Bank.

 

Some checkpoints are long-established at the entrances to villages and cities, but others pop up when tensions rise.

 

Mohammad Abdel Haleem, CEO of Doroob Technologies, said he knew Palestinians needed a new way to get around after a drive with Google Maps between the West Bank cities of Bethlehem and Ramallah left him lost in a remote valley.

 

"We had to design our maps completely from scratch. The wall, checkpoints, settlements ... existing mapping software could never account for the complexity here," Abdel Haleem, 39, said before using the app to drive through a checkpoint separating Ramallah from Beit El, a nearby Israeli settlement.

 

Tala Qawasmi, 24 , Geographic Information Systems Team Manager at Doroob Technologies, uses Doroob Navigator application on her mobile phone in Ramallah
Tala Qawasmi, 24 , Geographic Information Systems Team Manager at Doroob Technologies, uses Doroob Navigator application on her mobile phone in Ramallah

The app, which has garnered 22,000 users in two months, is funded by Ideal, a Ramallah-based transportation and automation software company also led by Abdel Haleem. He says he hopes to monetise the app in the future in part via a delivery feature.

 

"OTHER APPS DO NOT UNDERSTAND"

 

The West Bank is scattered with Israeli settlements and military bases, and an Israeli barrier snakes through the territory. Israel says the obstacle prevents Palestinian attacks, but Palestinians call it a land grab.

 

Around 3 million Palestinians live in the territory along with some 450,000 settlers, who can generally drive in the area without major restriction using so-called "bypass roads" built to avoid Palestinian towns.

 

Doroob Navigator's algorithm combines reports from users with manual inputs by engineering staff to help drivers avoid checkpoint traffic and circumvent settlements, which most Palestinian vehicles cannot enter.

 

The logo of Doroob Navigator application is shown on a laptop screen in Ramallah
The logo of Doroob Navigator application is shown on a laptop screen in Ramallah

"Other apps might say the only way to drive between certain Palestinian cities is to cut through a settlement," Abdel Haleem said. "We're trying to change that."

 

The app is also available in the Palestinian coastal enclave of Gaza, though most active users are in the West Bank, Abdeel Haleem says.

 

Palestinians in the past have relied on Facebook groups and word-of-mouth to anticipate West Bank traffic and closures. Waze is popular with Israelis, but many Palestinians say it directs them to routes they are restricted from driving.

 

"We need applications like this that help us move within Palestine," said Nicolas Harami, 31, who uses the app while driving from his home in East Jerusalem to Ramallah and other West Bank cities.

 

"Other applications do not understand our situation."

 


פרסום ראשון: 08.05.19, 12:58
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