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2005 March 11


Editor's Introduction
Report from the ASPRS Conference
Letters to the Editor

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Editor's Introduction

Reporting live from the ASPRS 2005 Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, this is Matteo Luccio for GIS Monitor! Well, not quite "live": in order to write my report I had to wrench myself away from all the stimulating discussions in the meeting rooms and in the hallways, the vendors' presentations in the exhibit hall, and the views of the harbor. However, I walked away with a wealth of notes, from which I extracted for you the — very subjective — highlights below.

Also in this issue, I share two letters I received and do the usual round-up of news from press releases.


It has come to my attention that, due to a technical glitch, some of you have not received the past few issues. We are addressing this problem and will have it fixed soon. Meanwhile, please download any issues you might have missed from our

— Matteo

Report from the ASPRS Conference

The theme for this year's annual conference of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS), March 7 to 11, was "Geospatial Goes Global: From Your Neighborhood to the Whole Planet." The setting was the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel in Baltimore, Maryland and the views of the harbor drew many compliments from the participants. Aimed at a wide variety of professionals — ranging from surveyors to educators, from geographers to planners, from analysts to, of course, photogrammetrists — the conference included more than 400 technical and special session presentations and more than 70 poster sessions.

Chip Groat, director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) gave the opening keynote address. He discussed the Earth Summit process that is creating agreements among the space fairing nations of the world to more effectively integrate their Earth observation programs and exchange the resulting Earth observation data. Other plenary session speakers during the conference included Santiago Borrero, the secretary general of the Pan American Institute of Geography and History; Karen Schuckman, the new president of ASPRS and director of geospatial applications for EarthData Solutions; ESRI president Jack Dangermond; and Bertram Beaulieu, the director of the Office of Americas in the Analysis and Production Directorate of the
U.S. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

In conjunction with the conference, a tour visited the Maryland Emergency Operations Center for a live demonstration and another tour visited the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center for a presentation on the NASA EOS Terra, Aqua, and Aura satellite operations. You can read the entire program here.

ASPRS staff told me that 1150 people had registered prior to the start of the conference. They predicted that Friday, the last day of the conference, would see a large influx of "locals", including many who had not pre-registered, because the Potomac Region of the organization, which helped to plan the event, is very active. However, the number of nationalities represented clearly showed that ASPRS continues to be an international show, even though it is not billed or marketed that way.

This year's 77 exhibitors were more than ever before. As could be expected given the show's location, a short drive from Washington, D.C., many of the vendors that had booths in the exhibit hall cater to national security needs and agencies. While several exhibitors commented that the exhibit hall was a bit small for the number of booths, they unanimously agreed that "booth traffic" was excellent. Perhaps a contributing factor was the cold and blustery weather outside, which discouraged participants from exploring the neighborhood between technical sessions. Philip Kern, North and Central America program manager for Intergraph's Earth Imaging Solutions Centre, expressed a common sentiment among the exhibitors when he told me "We came with very low expectations, but it's been incredible."

There was also widespread agreement that the overlap between this show and the meeting of the Geographic Information & Technology Association (GITA) in Denver, Colorado did not make sense.

Regardless of the conference's official theme, two themes jumped out at me in the exhibit hall: 3D visualization and imagery.

The accelerating transition from 2D to 3D visualization, which began about five years ago [for a primer on 3D GIS see "3D GIS: A Technology Whose Time Has Come," by Gary Smith and Joshua Friedman, in the November 2004 issue of Earth Observation Magazine], was evident to me as I walked around the exhibit floor. This development is driven in part by the increasing demand for spatial visualization to assist with homeland defense. As the audience for maps expands rapidly, adding the third dimension makes them more accessible. In particular, adding true texture to buildings and terrain gives people who are not used to working with maps a better sense of scale and of the relationship of features.

As for imagery, I was able to identify two big issues: film vs. digital and the scarcity of commercially available satellite imagery.

Digital aerial sensors, which first made a big splash a couple of years ago, are now rapidly replacing film and some conference participants were wearing "Film is dead" buttons. Nevertheless, many people are still trying to figure out the new digital technology and many companies are loath to give up their large investments in film-based processes and equipment. Many in the business are still trying to decide whether and when to switch from the "tried and true" film-based methods, with which they are comfortable, to the new digital sensing technology.

I asked VX Services, a company that supports and builds the popular Vexcel VX image scanning equipment, how digital images compare to those taken on film and then scanned. They told me that in either case the quality of the final product depends on so many steps and processes that it is impossible to generalize and say that one technology always gives better results than the other one. However, digital imaging is faster and therefore more appropriate for time-sensitive applications, such as fire monitoring or targeting ordnance. Film, on the other hand, is very good for long-term storage because it is a very dense and stable medium and a well-understood technology.

One company that has put a lot of emphasis on manipulating and integrating large images is Seattle-based LizardTech — a provider of software solutions that facilitate the management and distribution of digital content. According to its vice president for global sales, Brian Soliday, the company's GeoExpress product is aimed at those who need to compress and manipulate very large images. Version 5.0, released in January, also allows users to re-project multiple TIFs on the fly and encodes at 500:1 areas with very uniform ground coverage, such as water. Version 5.0 also enables JPEG 2000 image compression and allows users to mosaic images with different resolutions. Working closely with the NGA, LizardTech has configured GeoExpress JPEG 2000 to encode images using pre-defined profiles — EPJE, for small areas, and NPJE, for large areas — that ensure compliance with Department of Defense image standards.

At the GITA meeting in Denver, LizardTech announced that it is working with Oracle to extend the Oracle Spatial 10g GeoRaster architecture to integrate native MrSID technology. The buzz from that announcement generated extra traffic at its booth at ASPRS. According to Soliday, within a couple of days of the announcement already half-a-dozen sites had requested to be beta sites. Having moved away from geospatial technology in August of 2003, when it was purchased by Celartem Technology, Inc., LizardTech is now again fully committed to the geospatial marketplace, "for the long term," Soliday told me.

Carlos Domingo, president and CEO of Celartem, Inc., LizardTech's parent company, added that integrating LizardTech's native MrSID wavelet technology in Oracle Spatial 10g reduces storage costs, by reducing database size from 20 to 30 times; improves performance, by expediting the loading of existing MrSID data into Oracle Spatial 10g; and integrates raster, vector, and relational data into a single geospatial data repository.

(Celartem Technology announced on Tuesday that it would merge LizardTech and its two other U.S. holdings, Extensis, Inc. and Celartem, Inc. Both Extensis and LizardTech will retain their employees, offices and corporate brand but will operate under the Celartem, Inc. holding company.)

I asked Karen Schuckman, the new president of ASPRS, about the "data gap" that commercial consumers of satellite imagery are increasingly facing now that the U.S. government has procured purchase rights to the majority of the images from commercial satellites. The large initial investments and long lead times required to launch satellites, she told me, make satellite imagery technology less responsive to changing imaging needs than aerial imaging — and the United States "has been challenged coming up with a model for funding space-borne observation systems and for that reason we are increasingly relying on systems developed by other countries."

One company that would be glad to fill this gap is ImageSat International, according to Karen Gold Anisfeld, its vice president for corporate communications. She told me that her company "provides countries with a national, high-resolution imaging capability." Due to demand, the company is building a new satellite, which it plans to launch sometime between the Paris Air Show, in June, and the Singapore Air Show, in February of next year. Gold Anisfeld also told me that, to her knowledge, her company's business model is unique in this field because, by building very small satellites, it was able to keep production and launch costs sufficiently low as not to require any governmental support and be an entirely commercial operation.

On Thursday morning, Karen Schuckman delivered her first speech as ASPRS president to an audience of about 300 people. After recalling her dread of public speaking as a college student in the early 1970s, Schuckman launched into a passionate talk on the key requirements for leadership (among them, "the ability to make each individual feel more capable"); the new role of women in the organization ("One can't deny that we are at a significant historical moment, having three consecutive women officers, when there were only three in the entire 71-year prior history of the organization."); the state of ASPRS ("We have nearly $1 million in reserve funds and an operating budget that consistently produces positive cash flow. We own our own building outright."); and what drives its members: "We all care about imagery and maps because we really care about something deeper, something that is more common to all human beings, not just photogrammetrists and remote sensing and mapping scientists."

In concluding, she cited Joseph Campbell's fascination with pictures from space of our planet, which he called the "fragile blue sphere". This reminded me of Carl Sagan's expression, "pale blue dot", and was a good segway to the next speaker, ESRI president Jack Dangermond, who repeatedly referred to Earth as a "blue marble."

Dangermond, very inspiring as usual, outlined his vision of GIS as a powerful tool to help resolve the complex challenges of our crowded world — from globalization to armed conflict, from environmental change to economic development. He described GIS as a technique to integrate not just data but also "workflows," said that GIS is becoming "a new language," and argued that it can help humanity "build a common understanding." Focusing then on the trends that are currently driving the development of GIS, he identified four: the growing number of geographic measurements, due in part to the availability of new sensors; the growing integration of GIS with other technologies; the increasingly distributed and networked nature of GIS; and the emergence of GIS portals.

While the old "mantra of GIS," according to Dangermond, has been "I'll share my data," the new one, he opined, will be "I'll share my data models." As an example, he pointed out that data models originally developed by hydrologists are now being used by urban planners. "GIS networks," he predicted, "will allow us to connect and integrate distributed GIS resources, making virtual collaborations possible" and leading to "a kind of global GIS." This global integration, he cautioned, will not be perfect — for example, we will still have to deal with images at different resolutions and different classification techniques — and the end result will be analogous to a library, not to an encyclopedia. However, he concluded, the role of geospatial professionals will remain the same: understanding user needs, providing data services, supporting applications, managing organizations, and supporting the technical infrastructure.

I asked Dangermond whether he saw any tension between open standards and proprietary software development. His answer was simple and forceful: "If you are not 'open' you will not last. Evolution will take care of it."

Letters to the Editor

Simon Greener, GIS manager for Forestry Tasmania, in Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, wrote:


You ask are you asking the right questions.

My response is that the most important question STILL in the geospatial business today is the dire need for spatial data management to move into the mainstream. This can only happen when all transactional spatial data is stored inside horizontal market, ubituitious O-RDBMS, to an agreed standard (namely SQL 3 MM data types). (Though with Microsoft hopefully about to enter the market with spatial data types inside SQL Server, it is more likely that the standards issue will become a little more confused rather than clarified.) Once this happens, we then want those spatial types available in OLEDB/ADO/JDBC/ODBC drivers and not hidden inside proprietary interfaces such as ArcSDE.

The next big issue that will hit geospatial is, in my view, the release of Longhorn with its SVG-like graphics subsystem Avalon. Why? Because this means that the visualisation of geospatial data can be made available to any programmer using Visual Studio without the need to purchase high-deployment cost GIS development kits.

Geospatial data and processing going IT mainstream will bring more choice to the market. ESRI's market share will diminish. Google, Map24, MapQuest, Microsoft MapPoint, TerraServer, etc. are all showing what the future will look like. As a corollary to this, map production is not something that specifically needs a GIS: generic graphics software can do almost all that we need to do: Adobe Illustrator and SVG or Illustrator and MapPublisher are showing the way forward. It was a great pity when Corel dumped their development of the Smart Vector Graphics studio. It was a great platform for building (client and) middle-tier geospatial rendering and processing framework.

I loved Dimitri's rant. Yeah, he loves to stir the pot and is hyperbolic in his criticism of ESRI and any non-Microsoft approach to GIS, but the product he oversees is an incredible pointer to the fact that GIS is simply too costly and is in danger of pricing itself out of the market. I am not a particular lover of the Microsoft Way of doing IT but Manifold is a very good product so I caution your readers not to "throw the baby out with the bath water" just because Dimitri got up your nose! Keep on ranting Dimitri and backing it up with a great product: we need you to keep "stirring the GIS pot" otherwise the industry will become too complacent.

I remain an avid reader of GIS Monitor, and wish you all the very best as its new editor.


Tracey Stout, vice president for Worldwide Marketing at Autodesk wrote the following "Open Letter to the Press."

On behalf of Autodesk, I would like to convey our sincerest apologies about the unexpected blog coverage of our 2006 products.

I want to assure you that we value our relationships with the media greatly. We have worked hard over many years to develop those relationships, and would never do something intentionally that would strain those relationships.

Last week, some well-intentioned members of our marketing team, without consulting Autodesk Public Relations, invited AutoCAD 2006 beta sites to blog about their experience with the products. They hoped the publicity would help their marketing efforts. Unfortunately, these individuals did not consider the broader effects of their actions on the reporters we had asked to adhere to a non-disclosure agreement prior to launch date.

Simply stated, the leaking of information was a mistake. Regardless of how it happened, we recognize these events placed all of you in an extremely difficult position and understand your displeasure at the situation.

I want you to understand that the invitation issued to all of our AutoCAD 2006 beta customers was not, in any way, intended to undermine the role of the press as independent and fair reporters on our company or its products. Autodesk did not guide these customers to post only positive comments. Indeed, we believe firmly that blogs are intended for honest, open communication. As proud as we are of the products we produce, we recognize and welcome candid reactions to them.

We have learned from this incident and will be implementing better internal communications processes, to prevent a repeat of this situation. And I will work personally with the entire company to do everything we can to restore an atmosphere of trust between Autodesk and the press.

Please don't hesitate to contact me directly to discuss this matter.

News Briefs

Please note: I have culled the following news items from press releases and have not independently verified them.


LizardTech, Inc., a provider of software solutions that facilitate the management and distribution of digital content, has begun working with Oracle to extend the Oracle Spatial 10g GeoRaster architecture to integrate native MrSID technology. GeoExpress with MrSID enables users to manage, access, and distribute very large geospatial imagery, such as aerial photos and satellite images. This venture represents LizardTech's first step toward providing JPEG 2000 support for Oracle Spatial 10g.
    LizardTech — founded in 1992 to build business solutions from technologies created by such research organizations as Los Alamos National Laboratory and AT&T; Labs — develops software to manage, distribute, and access large complex digital content, such as aerial photographs, satellite imagery, and color scanned documents. The company is part of Celartem Technology Inc., a Japan-based technology company focused on storage and distribution technologies for digital images.
    On March 8 Celartem Technology Inc., headquartered in Tokyo, announced a merger of its three U.S. companies — Extensis, Inc. (a software company), LizardTech, Inc., and Celartem, Inc. Both Extensis and LizardTech will retain their employees, offices, and corporate brand but will operate under the Celartem, Inc. holding company. Carlos Domingo, formerly with Celartem Technology, Inc., will have responsibility for both Extensis and LizardTech operations.

ROUTE 66 has chosen NAVTEQ, a Chicago-based provider of digital maps for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, to provide maps of Europe, the United States, and Canada. This will help bring ROUTE 66's Mobile 2006 to the European and North American markets. NAVTEQ is also the data provider to ROUTE 66 for its range of products in Europe. ROUTE 66 will showcase the Mobile 2006 solution at the CTIA show next week in New Orleans with the solution expected to be offered by select North American retailers in Q2 2005.
    NAVTEQ ensures accurate routing by actually driving the roads it covers. In addition, its maps are infused with such attributes as turn restrictions, one-way streets and street signs, and 46 categories of points-of-interest — including restaurants, hotels, gas stations, and banks. ROUTE 66 sells a kit that includes a memory stick pre-loaded with navigation software and NAVTEQ maps along with a Bluetooth GPS receiver. Users insert the memory stick into a compatible mobile phone, download the software and maps onto the phone, and switch on the Bluetooth GPS receiver to turn their mobile phone into a navigation solution that provides voice and on-screen turn-by-turn routing. Users can set preferences such as the type of route (shortest or fastest), means of transportation (car, on foot and others) and distance units (kilometers or miles). For further routing assistance, a driver can display on the map the addresses of contacts residing in the phone.

Newtownabbey Borough Council, in Northern Ireland, has selected Cadcorp Spatial Information System (SIS), to provide the basis for the council's first corporate-wide GIS. Cadcorp, a developer of digital mapping and GIS software established in 1991, has already been selected by other local authorities in Northern Ireland to help them meet their e-government objectives. Cadcorp is supplying Cadcorp SIS Map Manager and Map Editor software licences and assisting the council in the implementation of the new system. Cadcorp SIS - Active Server Component (ASC) is also included in the contract, to underpin future corporate GIS deployment across the council's intranet and externally to citizens via the Internet. Cadcorp SIS will also be used to prepare and maintain a database of corporate land and property assets so that related information and documents for individual items can be accessed from maps held by the council. In addition, it will be used to facilitate council development projects and property transactions.

The Service Authority for Freeways and Expressways (SAFE) of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) — the transportation planning, financing, and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area — has selected Farallon Geographics, a San Francisco-based GIS development firm, to review its current fleet tracking systems and implement a fleet management program. MTC's Freeway Service Patrol program uses an Automatic Vehicle Locator (AVL) to monitor the locations of the company's tow service trucks and allow the California Highway Patrol to verify that they are at their designated locations.

Optech Incorporated, a developer and manufacturer of laser-based survey instruments, and camera manufacturer Rollei, have entered a technology partnership to develop a new airborne digital camera for exclusive use in Optech's Airborne Laser Terrain Mapper (ALTM). The camera will have a 1/1000 second shutter, four-second cycle time, and built-in light sensor and will be optimized for the production of digital orthophoto products. It will feature complete integration with Optech's Flight Management Software, which helps manage airborne survey operations — including camera operations, GPS/INS, lidar data, and flight management.

Telvent GIT, which specializes in high value-added solutions for four specific industrial sectors (Energy, Traffic, Transport, and Environment) in Europe, North America, Latin America and China; Miner & Miner, which specializes in the development and implementation of GIS software for utilities; and ESRI are building an integrated product suite that will enable energy utilities and other enterprises to make better strategic use of real time and spatial information. It will use the framework of the ArcFM Solution based on the core technology of ESRI's ArcGIS and Telvent's OASyS DNA product suite. Telvent has recently acquired a majority stake in M&M;, which will allow the ArcFM Solution to add spatially-integrated network and asset data to the real time environment.
     Initial development includes integrating M&M;'s Responder OMS product with Telvent's flagship OASyS DNA SCADA platform. Integration with other spatial applications will follow, along with development to support the energy, traffic, transportation and environment industries.


DeLorme, based in Yarmouth, Maine, has released XMap OpenSpace Database Integration Kit. It allows users to automatically update the geographic data they are managing within DeLorme's OpenSpace database, the company's physical data model that enables geodata storage in Microsoft SQL Server. The kit, intended for use with DeLorme's XMap/GIS Editor, provides a DLL library that allows users to link collected geodata directly to an OpenSpace GIS layer within XMap/GIS Editor.
    With XMap/GIS Editor, which is required to access the DeLorme OpenSpace database, GIS managers can pre-classify and symbolize their layers prior to data collection; they can then use the kit and their own development environment to build a bridge between their database system and XMap/GIS Editor. Collected spatial data, linked to XMap/GIS Editor through the integration kit, will automatically display the new, pre-classified data against DeLorme map data or imagery (including DOQQ or satellite views). In addition, users can add new geographic objects to OpenSpace as they collect data.

ESRI has announced that it is now shipping PLTS for ArcGIS 9 Defense Solution, which provides tools to reduce cost and improve the efficiency of creating and maintaining topographic databases for publishing map products and data analysis. The product leverages the object-relational ArcGIS technology to streamline production in a consistent process, enabling users to do more with fewer resources.
    Defense Solution allows for rapid creation and updating of many products including Foundation Feature Data (FFD), Vector Map Level 1 (VMap 1), 1:250,000 scale Joint Operation Graphic-Air (JOG-A), Vector Map Level 2 (VMap 2), and 1:50,000/1:100,000 Topographic Line Map (TLM) products. Other defense data models and products are also available with Defense Solution and can be customized to meet user requirements. Defense Solution comes with PLTS for ArcGIS Foundation, a set of components for quality control, database editing, cartographic product generation, and work flow management.

Mio Technology Ltd. has introduced to the North American market the latest addition to its series of GPS pocket PC's - the Mio168RS. The new handheld device's MioMap mapping software contains millions of points-of-interest and is fully interoperable with the built-in GPS receiver. The device features an Intel Xscale 300 MHz processor and Microsoft's Pocket PC 2003 second edition, which runs Microsoft's Pocket Outlook, Word, Excel, Media Player, and Internet Explorer and synchronizes data with a PC. The Mio168RS gives point-to-point, real-time driving directions, both verbally and visually.

upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. has published What's Inside? AutoCAD 2006, a 96-page electronic book published in Adobe Acrobat format. The book details changes in Autodesk's latest release of its AutoCAD flagship software, including 43 new commands and 56 new system variables.

ESRI is now shipping an updated North American data set for RouteMAP IMS 2.5. Users of RouteMAP IMS are now able to choose Tele Atlas' Dynamap Transportation, which provides street data, postal boundaries, landmarks, and water features for the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. RouteMAP IMS is designed to help users add mapping and routing capabilities to their Web sites. Map templates included in RouteMAP IMS allow users to customize maps with symbols for their data and to select the map data they need to produce attractive Internet maps from the data package options. The product also enables users to allow prospective customers visiting their Web site to create maps and calculate driving directions to their various business locations. Customized maps can be created with the provided ActiveX and Java application programming interfaces.


Visual Learning Systems, Inc., a company that specializes in feature extraction and image understanding solutions, will hold the Second Annual Feature Analyst User Conference in Missoula, Montana, on September 13-14. Feature Analyst is a software toolset for automating the collection of features from remotely sensed data used for GIS database management and mapping applications; it is an extension to ESRI's ArcGIS suite, Leica Geosystems' ERDAS IMAGINE, and BAE Systems SOCET SET. The conference will focus on automated and assisted feature extraction, 3D feature collection from LIDAR and stereo, change detection, developing extensions to Feature Analyst, automated attribution, and smart editing tools. Abstract submissions are due June 1.

A new ESRI Virtual Campus live training seminar, "Editing in ArcGIS 9: Tips and Tricks," is designed for experienced ArcGIS software users who want to better understand ArcMap editing tools as well as tools available on the Advanced Editing and Spatial Adjustment toolbars. It will take place on March 24, at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. Pacific time. ArcGIS Desktop offers tools for creating and maintaining a GIS database. This seminar will demonstrate data production techniques for edgematching and rubbersheeting as well as useful developer samples. A broadband Internet connection and an ESRI Global Account are required to view the seminar.

The ESRI Business GeoInfo Summit will take place April 18-19 at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, Illinois. This two-day GIS conference focuses on business intelligence, customer development, site selection, target marketing, risk management, fleet management, routing and logistics, asset management, franchise protection, and any business process that involves geography and spatial analysis. Online registration is available at

From March 16 to 18, at the Bakersfield Convention Center, in Bakersfield, California, Tele Atlas will host the California GIS in Transportation Symposium. The symposium is part of the CalGIS XI Conference, an annual event hosted by the three Chapters of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (URISA). The chapters that host this event are the Bay Area Automated Mapping Association (BAAMA), the Southern California Chapter of URISA, and the Central California Chapter of URISA.

This year's Texas GIS Forum will be held in Austin on April 25 and 26. It will feature two days of GIS-related workshops, followed by two and a half days of technical presentations. Details and registration forms are available here.


MapInfo Corporation, a provider of location intelligence solutions, has added Rick Celio, vice president for franchise and development at International House of Pancakes (IHOP), as a keynote speaker at this year's MapWorld global user conference. He will discuss the value of location analysis in the site selection process and credit location intelligence from MapInfo as one of the reasons for IHOP's success. The conference, which will take place April 6-8 at the Sonesta Beach Resort, in Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, will bring together MapInfo experts, customers and industry professionals.


ESRI is conducting an ArcWeb Services Challenge. To participate, developers are asked to create a Web application that uses ArcWeb Services, ESRI's hosted GIS Web services product that allows access to GIS content and capabilities over the Web. ESRI will evaluate the applications based on their usefulness, ease of use, and originality and award ArcWeb Services credits with a cash value of $5,000 for first place, $3,750 for second place, and $2,500 for third place. It will also showcase winners at the 2005 ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, California, July 25-29. Entries must be submitted to ESRI by May 20.

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