Success Story

The Basque Government through EJIE promotes linguistic diversity with high-speed translation tool


Basque Government Informatic Society (EJIE)'s vision for its Itzuli project was to develop an automated tool to translate Spanish, French, and English into Basque, and vice versa. Red Hat® OpenShift® gave EJIE the right tools and environment, supported by AI capabilities, to ensure the project’s success.

One of 17 autonomous communities in Spain, the Basque Country is located close to the French border in the north of the Iberian Peninsula. EJIE is the Basque government’s IT management arm. It handles the digitization of public services and ensures IT quality, security, and continuity.

EJIE was named a 2024 Red Hat Innovation Awards winner.

Read the success story in Basque

    Public sector
    Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA)
    Vitoria-Gasteiz, Álava, Spain 
  • SIZE
    220 employees


Promote linguistic diversity and inclusion in Basque day-to-day

The Itzuli project was developed by EJIE to promote linguistic diversity and inclusion in the daily lives of Basque people. With a population of 2.2 million, the Basque Country is one of Spain’s most economically important regions. Spanish is 1 of 2 official languages spoken in the Basque Country; the other is Basque. Basque is the oldest living language in Europe, and over 1.3 million people—60% of Basque Country inhabitants—know of it.

To develop a tool capable of translating Spanish, French, and English into basque–and vice versa–EJIE needed a high-quality, automated tool, supported by modern AI capabilities. A tool developed in 2014 achieved some success but lacked the technical capabilities of more recent platforms.

“The previous app used technology based on grammar rules. It was an automatic translation program. It worked well with short sentences but made mistakes in long texts,” said Estibaliz Alkorta Barragán, Director of Basque Promotion (Culture and Linguistic Policy).

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EJIE knew that a better option was possible.

Creating the tool involved 2 main challenges:

  • Developing its linguistic capabilities.
  • Building the underlying technology – in particular, the AI elements.

EJIE needed graphics processing units (GPUs), which are important in AI development, thanks to their ability to perform multiple processing tasks quickly and in parallel. It also needed to build its understanding of Kubernetes and the role of containers in GPUs.

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 A longstanding user of Red Hat Enterprise Linux®, EJIE had explored Red Hat OpenShift as a platform for application modernization since 2015. The organization quickly realized that for the Itzuli project to meet citizens’ needs with agility and flexibility, a microservices-based approach was the way forward.


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EJIE's commitment to combining cutting-edge technology with an open culture was a critical factor in its decision to use containers with GPUs in its deployment of AI.

But, this was a recent feature in the Kubernetes ecosystem. The team had to learn new concepts and experiment with different solutions. So, EJIE and the Red Hat account team worked together closely, with both Red Hat Consulting and the Red Hat Technical Account Manager (TAM) supporting the project. Together, they determined Red Hat OpenShift provided an ideal platform.

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As the foundation for a new, modernized IT infrastructure at EJIE, Red Hat OpenShift supports the use of containers with GPUs – a critical element in the development of a neural translator that deploys AI capabilities. The GPU operator Red Hat offers simplified the integration of GPUs in OpenShift. The adoption of OpenShift also accelerated the DevOps process; this cut costs, freed up EJIE staff to focus on high-value activities, and gave development teams autonomy and visibility into production environments.

The result? A product-oriented approach to development that brought speed and reliability to the deployment of critical services.

“Over 30,000 people use the translator daily, with peaks of more than 260,000 queries on any given day. This means that the two official languages of the Basque Country (Basque and Spanish) can be used by citizens, according to their needs,” said Xabier Arrieta, Director of Information Technologies and Communication in the Basque Government, EJIE.

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Business outcome

Provide a flexible translation tool with AI capabilities

Working with Red Hat solutions, EJIE and the Basque government successfully launched two versions of the Itzuli neural translator:

  • A general version of the tool for all citizens, capable of handling colloquial language
  • A more adept version to deal with more specialist legal and administrative tasks.

Now, over  30,000 people use the translator daily, making the Basque and Spanish languages accessible to every citizen.

The figures reflect its popularity and growth, with a 300% increase in usage in just 3 years:

  • At the beginning of 2020, 2 million requests for translation were made every quarter, with peaks of 90,000 in a single day.
  • By August 2023, the volume of queries exceeded 6.7 million per quarter, peaking at over 260,000 queries in a single day.
  • Over 60,000 people have installed the app on a mobile device

The Basque government has seen the number of translation requests from official services fall by 40% in the last 3 years. It’s an impressive indicator of the digital transformation achieved in both social and public management domains and the levels of adoption and trust that the tool inspires.

“The tool has given citizens autonomy when it comes to both their work and personal lives,” said Arrieta. “The usage statistics reflect very different patterns in the morning and evening. In the morning, it is mainly used for professional purposes, whilst in the evening it is used more for personal reasons. Mainly related to children’s education.”

The Basque government is now working on a pilot project for Itzuli to make automatic transcriptions of court proceedings.

EJIE is planning to use the new environment supported by Red Hat OpenShift for other projects, notably the development of a digital wallet to store personal data securely.

EJIE is also starting to use Red Hat Ansible® Automation Platform to automate parts of its SAP operation and plans to extend its use to EJIE networks. 

Icon-Red_Hat-Media_and_documents-Quotemark_Open-B-Red-RGB Migrations between Red Hat OpenShift versions have been achieved without impacting the service provided by Itzuli. This is a real plus compared to traditional solutions.

Xabier Arrieta

Director, Information Technology and Telecommunications of the Basque Government

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