How AI can help cities become more sustainable

In the Neolithic period, humans began to cultivate the land and breed animals. In this way, they began to have something like a steady diet, and sedentary human groups began to emerge, which led to the formation of the first fixed settlements. This was around 3,000 BC.

As time went by, the first cities in history began to emerge in very specific geographical areas with specific natural conditions. People who lived there were able to develop great agricultural and manufacturing activities with innovations in sowing and production (plough, lathe, wheel, a network of canalс etc.). Little by little, people began to specialise in order to achieve improvements in production and communications, which favoured trade, while the invention of writing allowed a better accounting of economic transactions.

Soon, the somewhat primitive and unsafe villages began to develop into real urban centres with stone buildings, avenues, etc. The appearance of these urban centres brought changes in the social and economic life of the people. In the same way, economic activities were also changing, commerce and industry began to develop… But apart from all these economic activities, the structuring of knowledge and technology has been fundamental in responding to the challenges of the urban transformation processes in which cities find themselves and which are known as Smart Cities.

It is in the 21st century, and especially in its second decade when the main transformations are taking place, at great speed, due to the exponential development of technologies, which are changing economic and social models.

In the face of these transformations, one of the objectives that we must define, and address is the preservation and improvement of the quality of life of living beings on the planet. Focusing on the case of people, the majority of us live in cities; cities that must expand with ethical and environmental criteria, respecting the commitments of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals. Both public and private agents must ensure the sustainability and resilience of cities in order to improve the quality of life of their inhabitants.

To this end, it will be essential to take advantage of renewable energy sources, to commit to sustainable electromobility, to the almost total elimination of emissions from energy generation, industry, transport… In this regard, there are several reports that are committed to Artificial Intelligence (AI) as an enabling technology to achieve this goal.

AI, and in particular machine learning, time series forecasting, data analytics, etc., have a crucial role to play in redesigning and rethinking cities so that people living there have a better quality of life.

For example, learning combined with neural networks can help us understand how buildings consume energy and recommend adjustments based on the behaviour of their occupants. In addition, it can help us to automatically control the management of the water cycle, achieving its optimisation and efficiency.

At GAIA, we have defined how it is possible to make the incorporation of AI into the different value chains of organisations a reality. Below, we present its outline:

However, cities need revolutionary methodologies and tools to optimise massive amounts of data from different sources (e.g. streetlights, traffic systems, sensors, etc.) and need to centralise data storage in complex global and often fragmented supply chains. This is where Big Data analytics and AI, in general, come into play, which is why DTAM sees the need to develop training content that trains students in these skills.

In conclusion, we can say that it will be crucial to have data and carry out in-depth analyses of it, but we will have to be able to learn from it because only then, we will be able to make the right decisions. With this, and with the appropriate use of AI, we will achieve a sustainable future with better living conditions for citizens and the planet. An end that unites us all.

Sources:

[1] National Geographic (2012) The first cities, the urban revolution in Mesopotamia

[2] Wikipedia (2021) Smart City

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Building the DTAM IoT Hub

If you’ve been following us for a while now, you already know we are aiming to build an entire training course dedicated to advanced manufacturing skills & competencies and in addition to that, a dedicated IoT Hub to facilitate training, learning, and collaboration amongst our future stakeholders. An ambitious initiative indeed, but we’ve already laid down the first steps.

The backbone of our DTAM IoT Hub i.e. its infrastructure will be provided by our partners from Saranet: one of the leading providers of internet solutions for businesses in Spain. Saranet specializes in offering integral and high-quality services to companies. It provides a full range of services including high speed, high availability connectivity services, high-end data center solutions with an extensive portfolio of hosting solutions, Virtual Private Networks (VPN), Voice over IP (VoIP), mobile solutions, security solutions, and Industrial IoT.

That’s exactly why Saranet is charged with the responsibility to build the DTAM IoT Hub and provide the cloud infrastructure to install the IoT technologies and software. Simultaneously to building our training curriculum we are also taking steps towards that goal like testing the software installation in a staging area i.e. a test area in the Sarenet cloud. Sarenet brings support to the provision of the entire centralized architecture so that those responsible for teaching methodologies can model the dimensioning of a centralized working environment in the cloud.

DTAM cloud architecture will be implemented so that those responsible for technical knowledge, experts in enabling technologies, develop the start-up for the use of Big Data through open-source software located in the Sarenet data centers.

The cluster of several servers in the cloud, necessary for the proper functioning of the DTAM project, will be tied to a secure access control and with appropriate technologies, so that the target IoT teaching methods can be practiced with open source software added within a trusted environment.

Sarenet’s system engineering team accompanies DTAM in the correct use of communications and technologies for jobs in the cloud, together with monitored access to the centralized data storage.

Sounds exciting? That’s because it is. We invite you to sign up for our newsletter here and check our website regularly to make sure you don’t miss the bis announcement when we are ready to launch the DTAM IoT Hub. Is there a feature you would personally like to experience via our DTAM Training curriculum? Let us know on our social media channels.

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Humanity, Technology and Intelligence in the International Vocational Education and Training Congress

The International Vocational Education and Training Congress “VET in the face of the era of humanity, technology and intelligence” took place on November 10th and 11th in San Sebastián (Spain).

Local and national authorities attended the Congress in which high-level speakers from different fields participated. About 960 people physically attended the exhibitions in very diverse fields: from industry and technology to gastronomy, highlighting the educational field, all of them referring to the advance of the 4th Industrial Revolution and their involvement in Vocational Education and Training.

Moreover, the International Congress was followed around the world via streaming. Adding the number of people who attended the congress in person at the Kursaal Palace in San Sebastián to all those registered to follow the interventions online, the sum adds up to a total a little over 4200 people, from 156 countries on five continents.

The Congress highlighted the importance of technology not only in the near future but at the present time in the face of the 4th Industrial Revolution. The interventions underlined the importance of the human dimension since it is ultimately people who have to acquire the leading role in technological development.

Artificial intelligence, intelligent systems, automation or robotization are increasingly everyday realities that are changing society, the way of working, or the way of interacting with one another. In this context, technology must be an aid to the human being and not an end in itself. Because technology alone is not enough, it is key to prepare coming generations to work and live in this new environment. In this context, Vocational Education and Training becomes a key transforming agent: it trains the workers of the future, enables those who are active and the unemployed to upskill and reskill to the changes of the labor market, and allows companies to be competitive.

That is precisely one of our DTAM project goals i.e. to “grow a workforce of technicians capable of understanding, installing, configuring, monitoring, analyzing, transferring data and maintaining digital systems in advanced manufacturing environments so meeting a critical skills gap in EU Industry 4.0”.

We invite you to have a look at our official project presentation below to learn how we intend to achieve that.

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Big data benefits

During one of his keynotes, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella once spoke about data as today’s ‘electricity’ meaning it is the thing that drives innovation forwards, just like it was with steam, electrical power, and digital tech in the past three industrial revolutions.

There’s probably not a single business out there that does not recognize the value of data in general. However the usage of data has long passed the simple record-keeping threshold, it is literary so much more: much more complicated, with much higher velocity, variety, veracity and yes, much bigger volume. We live in the era of Big data.

Just in case you are stumbling upon this term for the first time, though we doubt that, Big data is about collecting and analyzing internal and external data to create actionable insights and improve decision making in an organisation.

Because of Big Data, companies are in a position of growing ability to target, collect and store information, then analyze it in order to create new revenue streams and even predict market trends and customer preferences. They can also use it to streamline their products, services and business processes.

Big Data matters since it is very often considered as the most vital and powerful asset of any existing enterprise. Understanding of data and how it can be used in the best possible way is crucial especially for the small and medium businesses which are constantly facing an increasingly competitive market. An investment in Big Data always pays off when the data gathered is (1) being analyzed in order to be able to take measures and (2) act purposefully on the received data i.e. create insights. Big Data helps gaining more complete answers on varoius matters and very often reveals “hidden” but otherwise valuble information. Having enough information means you are becoming more confident in decision making and therefore could lead to a completely different approach for tackling business problems.

While it is true that the best Big Data solution for your organization is the one that is comprised according to your needs, there are some benefits in general that apply to pretty much all businesses. Companies may utilize Big Data to also achieve other great business results and we put some of them in the below infographic, so let’s check it out:

Indeed, there’s a lot that Big data can do for a business. But then again, has everyone already started using it then? Well, the answer is no. That’s because there are certain challenges to be considered when talking about actual company use cases and implementation of a Big data strategy in a given business.

We will talk about that in one of our next posts so stay tuned.

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Big Data Analytics and Hadoop for Advanced Manufacturing

The European manufacturing industry needs revolutionary methodologies and tools to optimize operations, improve efficiency as well as product quality at a reduced production and distribution cost. Nowadays, many manufacturers collect massive amounts of data from different sources (e.g. machines, production lines, sensors, etc.) and they need to centralize storage of data across complex global and often fragmented supply chains. That’s where Big Data analytics and Apache Hadoop come in to cover these needs.

Apache Hadoop is an open-source distributed processing framework that manages data processing and storage for big data applications in scalable clusters of servers. Hadoop is designed to scale up from single servers to thousands of machines, each offering local computation and storage. The framework itself is designed to detect and handle failures at the application layer rather than relying on hardware to deliver high availability. Hadoop aims to address the limitations of conventional Relational Database Management Systems in terms of storing large datasets, handling data of different formats and processing data at high speed.

But like any framework, Hadoop has both some advantages and disadvantages, and here’s a quick comparison of that:

Hadoop advantagesHadoop disadvantages
Quick processing of huge volume of dataIssue with small files
Supports a variety of data sources including structured and unstructured dataVulnerable by nature
Fault toleranceProcessing overhead
Scalability and High throughputSupports only batch processing

In fact, Hadoop is a collection of multiple tools and frameworks for big data management, storage, processing and analysis. There a 3 major components of the Hadoop ecosystem:

  • Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS). This is the storage unit of Hadoop. HDFS splits the data unit into smaller units that are called blocks and stores them in a distributed manner.
  • Hadoop MapReduce. This is the processing unit of Hadoop allowing you to write applications for processing big data. MapReduce runs these applications in parallel on a cluster of low-end machines. It does so in a reliable and fault-tolerant manner.
  • Hadoop Yet Another Resource Negotiator (YARN). This is the resource management unit of Hadoop. It allocates to applications RAM, and other resources depending on their requirements. The basic principle behind YARN is to separate resource management and job scheduling/monitoring function into separate daemons.

Are you interested in taking a course on Apache Hadoop for Big Data Analytics on Advanced Manufacturing? Follow our news section and also us on our social media to make sure you don’t miss the big news: we are currently developing the training courses of the DTAM project and we plan to finalize them at the beginning of 2022.

Resources:

[1] Apache Hadoop

[2] What Is Hadoop? | Simplilearn (YouTube video)

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First face-to-face meeting for the DTAM partnership

What do you hate most about the COVID-19 pandemic? If you said something similar to not being able to travel, then we totally agree with you. Recently, we reaffirmed the importance of having to meet people face-to-face and to interact with each other. And what better place to do this if not visiting our partners from the Da Vinci College in the Netherlands?

From October 6th, 2021 to October 8th, 2021 the DTAM team enjoyed wonderful Dutch hospitality in the pleasant city of Dordrecht. Yeah, we actually met, for the first time in 13 months of working on this project and it was a big deal, which deserved its own article.

There’s actually so much to tell, that we don’t even know where to start, but we’ll try anyway.

Our hosts

The Da Vinci College is a medium-sized regional VET College (they’ve got just some ~12,000 students) offering a great variety of secondary vocational courses in various branches including (in)-company training and education for adults. Da Vinci also offers general secondary education for adults and integration courses. Their privately founded University of Applied Science HBO Drechtsteden has Bachelor and Post-Bachelor’s training and Associate Degree programs in the fields of technology, business management, entrepreneurship, healthcare, and ICT.

Our hosts Mr. Jan-Willem Huisman and Mr. Michael Beljaars (a couple of good-looking fellas, who teach at the IT & Media Department) were kind enough to organize a wholesome touring experience, where we got to see their working-teaching environments, laboratories and meet some of the friendly staff working at the college. Part of that tour included meeting the Dean of the IT & Media department – Mr. Martijn van Cooten, who himself accompanied us for most of our stay at the college. He even shared his vision on transforming education and putting the focus on students’ needs and we can’t wait to share all that with you, but that deserves its own article too. So, we saw quite some interesting stuff during our tour, to say the least. Here are some of them.

The Azzurro building

Fun fact: educational departments at the Da Vinci College are gathered in distinctive buildings, which bear the name and have the looks of a particular color, spelled in Italian e.g. behold the The Azzurro building (Azzurro is the Italian word for the color blue): home to the IT, Tourism & Recreation & Sport courses and the VAVO courses.

At the Da Vinci College, you will also find that they’ve got something called “Duurzaam heids fabriek” i.e. the Sustainability factory: a separate space dedicated to stimulating innovation, providing a hybrid learning environment for students, strengthening VET, and shaping technology promotion. And believe us when we say they’ve got some interesting stuff in there. The idea behind the Sustainability factory is pretty simple: students get the chance to learn by working on real practical assignments from companies. They call this hybrid education. Here’s how part of it looks like from the inside (hover over the images to find out more):

The “Huis van de energietransitie”

Yep, this is exactly what it looks like: a house. It’s called “Huis van de energietransitie” i.e. The energy transition house. And yes, they’ve actually built this to facilitate many of the VET training courses Da Vinci College offers in order to provide a teaching-learning experience as close to the real environment as possible.

Huis van de energietransitie

Front look of the “Huis van de energietransitie” i.e. The energy transition house.

A more realistic learning experience

If this photo reminds you of a factory type of pipe engineering, well that because it actually is. The Sustainability Factory has an energy-efficient mechanical installation. The building itself is a another learning object. For example, the heat and cold storage installation in the Sustainability Factory has been used as a learning workspace and the air handling unit is equipped with glass so that the students can see how it works.

The meeting

As already mentioned, it took us a whole year before we could actually get together and officially meet each other. In fact, that would have been really odd if it wasn’t for the pandemic and all the limitations it brought. Having said that, we actually had already made quite some progress and this was just the right time to come face to face and talk about how we can push the project forward.

Following the Da Vinci College tour and meeting, we moved over to a “Joint vision on education” activity which helped us align our expectations about the DTAM project overall and actually helped us identify some key discussion topics to address during the rest of the meeting in general.

So, throughout the course of two days, we discussed important issues such as the characteristics of the DTAM IoT Hub and other matters like how we can improve our training course to better suit our stakeholders and last but not least – how we can actually put together a training course which can facilitate an effective learning experience. No pressure there.

We are pleased to inform you, however, that we’ve managed to paint a really good draft of the next steps we are going to have to take and also made some valuable improvements on what we’ve already created so far. Here’s part of out task list, which we wil be focusing on in the coming months:

  • Improve the already developed training modules on Big Data & Machine Learning, Cyber security, Transversal skills, IoT and Advanced sensorica;
  • Create and embed working assignments that will facilitate the actual learning process of the training, including using the DTAM IoT Hub.
  • Enable the international aspect of the training course by involving multiple stakeholder groups from the partnering countries.
  • Provide options for learning interactiveness by setting up a dedicated e-training platform
  • Set-up a first draft of the DTAM IoT Hub and test its capabilities. (Want an easter egg? I think we are fans of the Raspberry Pi).

So, quite a lot of work remains ahead, but rest asured that we are now even more dedicated and excited to built a quality DTAM experiences for the students and all others which will be taking advantage of this ambitious project of ours.

We need your support too, so please feel free to contact us if you would like to collaborate, contribute or simply share your experience with us. You may also help simply by spreading the word about the DTAM project via hashtag #dtamproject or following us on social media.

As always, stay tuned, because we’ve got some more stories of inspiration for you coming up.

Finally, we would like to thank our partners from ROC Da Vinci College for their wonderful hospitality and all the great experiences they gave us: Jan-Willem Huisman, Michael Beljaars, Martijn van Cooten, Frits Silano, Sietske van Voorthuijsen, Tamara Gideonse and Timon Jongkind.

Flexibility and Adaptability: Core Skills in Advanced Manufacturing

In nature, flexibility and adaptability are essential to survive. Flora and fauna around the world are full of examples of these life skills. Quick fact about reed: the stem of this plant is made of fiber, strong enough to resist the roughest meteorological conditions. Even when it is swept by a strong wind, the reed bends but never breaks. In the same manner, many animals naturally develop undercoats in the winter to go through the lowest temperatures.

Just like in the wilderness, flexibility and adaptability allow us to keep growing in our social and job environments.

And yet, unlike animals and plants, humans living in society usually need to learn and practice these skills. This is the reason why the DTAM Training Material on Transversal skills emphasizes the importance of becoming more flexible and better at adapting to multiple changes. Thanks to our training material, workers, educators, and VET instructors will have a tool to acquire more knowledge about these skills that everyone naturally possesses but that are not so obvious to apply, especially in the work environment.

Why is being flexible and able to adapt so essential, especially in the 21st century? In its Manifesto for Adult Learning in the 21st Century: The Power and Joy of Learning, the European Association for the Education of Adults (EAEA) outlines “digitalisation, internationalisation, service orientation, [and] flexibilisation” as the biggest mega-trends of today’s labor market. The EAEA adds, “these trends increase in parallel the pace at which employees have to adapt to the constant change and to gain new competencies”. As companies must become more flexible and adapt to constant change, so must their employees.

The pandemic, climate change, economic gaps, or the fast-paced development of cutting-edge technologies are the central global challenges faced by our society. Flexibility is about looking at these challenges as new opportunities, rather than obstacles. Adaptability is about finding new solutions to build the world of tomorrow. Both these skills are not only essential to face adversity, but also to show resilience i.e. the ability to recover after an obstacle and to move forward.

Whether it is about the learners’ daily lives—having to work without less human contacts—or companies’ social impact—building a more sustainable world—flexibility and adaptability are needed individual and social skills to be (re)learned. Therefore, the DTAM team is thrilled to share knowledge with its target groups about these two transversal skills, among many others.

Stay in touch on the DTAM social media pages and our website to be informed about all the rest of the hard and soft skills to be included in our Training Material.

References:

[1] European Association for the Education of Adults, Manifesto for Adult Learning in the 21st Century: The Power and Joy of Learning (2019)

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INCOBOTICS – Ready for Industry 5.0

The use of collaborative robotics is growing and will continue to grow. Future electronics and robotics graduates will have to work alongside big data and artificial intelligence experts to program, monitor, and analyze data coming in and out of cobots and their integrated computer vision (AV) systems. While we’ve been telling you about DTAM project for the past year now, there was another project steadily making progress towards addressing these challenges: the INCOBOTICS – Ready for Industry 5.0. The project was run by three of our existing partners i.e. Politeknika Ikastegia Txorierri (Spain), Apro Formazione (Italy), IDEC (Greece), and another partner from France – CFAI Adamic. With project INCOBOTICS, co-funded by the Erasmus+ program of the EU, the four partners chose to invest in the future of education and lay the groundwork for this to happen via the following results:

  1. A Training Module suitable for:
  • EQF level 5+ educationalists (HE and high level VET);
  • Industrial and technical students (future workers in Industry);
  • Industrial workers who require upskilling in programming for CO-BOTS via courses for the employed or unemployed workers.

The Module comprises of three ready to use, tested and validated units of learning in collaborative robotics as follows:

  • Introduction to Collaborative Robotics in Industry: Industry 5.0
  • Programming COBOTS
  • Artificial Vision Systems

After attending the INCOBOTICS Module, students will be able to understand Industry 5.0, comprehend the COBOTS major brands available on the market, understand the main functionalities of a COBOT, programme a COBOT, understand the capacities and range of Artificial Vision and learn how to programme Artificial Vision.

2. A Best Practices Guide for Teachers and Trainers, which offers pedagogical support and frames the INCOBOTICS Module in the Challenge Based Learning (CBL) Methodology. The Guide includes:

  • Guidelines for implementing the innovative Challenge Based Learning – CBL- methodology upon the INCOBOTICS Module and Units of Learning;
  • ECT accreditation guide for the INCOBOTICS units/module. Principles can be extracted to support accreditation of other units/modules, which teachers design in the course of their work;
  • Four programming challenges created transnationally using different COBOTs.

The Guide is available in four languages: English, Spanish, Italian, French.

On Thursday 30 September 2021, the project ended and the developed materials were finally made available for free on the official project training platform here.

Discover more about the Incobotics project at www.incobotics.eu/

IoT as part of the DTAM Training Curriculum

In recent years, practical steps into Industry 4.0 have shown a plethora of IoT platforms being utilized throughout the producing industries. The result of this heterogeneity on the platform level is an unmanageable variety in the solution requirements on the edge. Most actors in this field have realized that better interoperability of solutions is mandatory if Industry 4.0 is expected to have a continuing impact.

Within the DTAM project, students will be trained to become the engineers of the future by exploiting the knowledge about IoT. ICT technicians will learn to understand all digital technology needed to install, configure and monitor cyber physical intelligence and tools in AM environments. OT technicians on the other hand will learn the ability to understand and manage digitalization tools and the most advanced AM technologies for secure deployment and maintenance.

In the DTAM IoT lab, devices are available for students so that they can learn in practice. With our European network for sharing all sensor data, students will experience what it is like to work in an (international) AM environment and to connect the equipment. They will learn what it’s like to use different connection types like GSM, LoRa WAN, Ethernet, and Bluetooth. With their knowledge of sensors and data connections, the students will be able to work in the Industry 4.0 environment and further shape the digital transition in advanced manufacturing.

The DTAM partnership is now close to finalising the training curriculum. We can’t wait to share some more good news with you very soon, so don’t lose your patience just yet!

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Digitizing business environments: a case study by AFM

The digitization of workshops is one of the challenges that industrial companies are tackling. The fourth industrial revolution, also called Industry 4.0, is at its peak. Virtually all companies have in their strategy, lines related to the digitization of their value chain and the integration of data in it. Advanced digitization, the industrial internet and smart technologies such as the internet of things (IoT) are shaping production systems that have little to do with the industry of 5 or 10 years ago. The factories of the future are going to be smart, geared towards efficiency, sustainability, flexibility, and competitiveness, in a connected environment where people will be a central element.

However, these developments in Advanced Manufacturing are being limited (in their application) to young machines, manufactured less than 10-15 years ago. Older machines, due to their connectivity and sensorization limitations, are being left out of these developments. In order to find a solution to this problem, AFM CLUSTER has participated in collaboration with the companies Fagor Automation and Savvy Data Systems, in the IIoT4ALL project. This project has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism through the General Secretariat of Industry of Small and Medium Enterprises through the aid program to support innovative business groups.

This project has aimed to deploy and validate a solution to access a management system of a plant that integrates devices from previous generations that are not compatible with the new communication standards. In other words, the integration of older machines with more modern ones in a single layer at plant level which brings together all the systems present and allows comprehensive data management.

This layer is of vital importance because many of the older systems, even those with connectivity, do not use the latest communication standards and therefore cannot operate in the same way as new systems in a digitized plant. In addition, the idea of using this layer is to avoid having to modify the machine’s original software, since the aim is to adapt the old and the new communication systems.

Within the activity carried out by companies to digitize their plants, there is a need to include existing machines, that are in full production capacity, in their new production control and planning systems. The companies have to provide this machines with capacities that new technologies allow in terms of programming, simulation and automatic generation of programs that not only increase productivity but also improve the quality of all processes at the plant level. This has already been addressed at the hardware/software level in the machine in previous projects (such as the RETRO-CONNECT project), but a plant level layer was missing that would bring together all the present systems and that would allow comprehensive data management, taking into account both generation devices, the old generation as well as the latest one.

This is an example of a project carried out for the digitization of the workshops. The new scenario will mean an increasing need for adequately trained OT technicians with digital competence.

Projects like DTAM will help to develop digital competencies for the current and future workers. DTAM Training Course will consist of approximately 25 training units on digital and transversal skills relevant for IT and OT technicians in AM environments that contribute to the major areas of Industry 4.0 and the foreseen sections of Big Data, Machine Learning, Sensors, and Cybersecurity.

We will have more updates for you in the coming months.

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