Towards distributed and dynamic state property management – multi agency, government-to-government network operations in São Paulo

Authors: Neide Farran e Rupert Brown Institution: Fundap Coordenação: Aguinaldo Ribeiro da Cunha

Abstract: This paper looks at the processes of managing the inventory of state government properties in São Paulo, Brazil and the systematisation and exchanges of information between state agencies. It traces the integration of operations between these agencies and between different layers of government as elements of database storage and electronic interconnection have been implemented. It sees the co-evolution of processes, channels and contracts under the influence of technological change and suggests routes towards extending participation in the information system and improved internal metrics and reporting mechanisms. Electronic access has allowed closer contact between decision makers and their assets and overheads while the public interest is better served by greater internal transparency and clarity, through the savings made and through improved data for decision-making. There has been a reduction in the number of processes, greatly reduced inertia and more functionality with opportunities for faster, information and in new configurations. Many improvements are still possible, the paper acknowledges a local technology lag, however it sees this as an advantage for moving towards fully integrated e-government operations, joined up government. (Perri 6 2001, Bogadanor 2005) Core processes of São Paulo State's property management are managed through discrete channels for information and decision transactions. It is a government to government initiative with no direct public participation and with Fundap responsible for the administration and logistics of the Sistema de Gerenciamento de Imóveis - SGI property system. This has abolished many parallel institutional processes and information solos for a single collaborative information pool with a common graphical interface and with few primary keys. The paper analyses these changes and seeks connections to future initiatives through:
• • • • •

Expansion of underlying metrics Engagement with new channel relationships The pilot project for heritage properties and new information gathering contexts Moderated submissions and non statutory updates Spatial keys and markers

E-government logistics Pubic administration has been driven by technology towards an electronic enabled government model, and now e-government, for the past thirty years. Computer projects of the 1970s and 80s were justified by rationalisation, cost savings and staff efficiencies and in the 1990s there was a wider move to install databases, local connections and desktop machines. The 21st Century has seen a wholesale move to the internet – information and management resources can exist entirely on the network. The shifts have seen the São Paulo State property management system move from a paper mountain in single office with more than 10 employees, to a dispersed system

with 500 users actualizing records. Property management information and logistics are essentially back office functions. This is partially due to an element of secrecy and partially because of current technological limitations in the separation and updating of systems. The most frequently cited e-government services are public-facing information, documentation or revenue based interfaces: Government-to-Citizen. Poupatempo centres are a widely copied Brazilian example of the physical delivery of multiple State government and City government services under a single roof and a world-class example of how São Paulo has a running start in offering a coordinated multi agency public sector approach. However, State government and State e-government handle no public transactions online – perhaps motivated by national internet access figures of around 15%. Instead, they maintain mainly Government to Business, enterprise-facing portals for transactions with concentrate only on online information provision for the public. Many processes The development of the SGI property system worked towards the goal of simplifying government to government coordination and information updating through an online database. The system is the current de facto interface and the administration and management of property to allow functional gains such as collaborative working and devolved data entry. Each property consists of 48 dimensions within the database and these require monthly inflation updates, stock maintenance updates and yearly inventory subtotals. The CPI Property Commission should always have access to actualised snapshots, monthly reports and a yearly balance of transactions, values and changes. Many properties The state of São Paulo has a stock of around 30,000 properties - including prisons, schools, courts, ministries, foundations and universities. 6,000 are in the state capital with 15% rented and 12% used by non-state organisations. There are an additional 300 heritage properties that are either listed and protected by the state or have other historical value and these represent a public face to the overall stock and attract different forms of overheads. The state manages all of the properties and in turn, it manages the organs that are in day to day control of the properties. This requires inventory management, an enhanced management information system and the legal, financial and political mechanisms to provide a coordinated strategy for use and devolved responsibility. Each ministry or agency is in charge of updating information on the use, changes in use and state of repair of buildings independent of their legal status. Many bodies The Estação da Luz is an example of how some of this complexity is worked through. It is a protected landmark building that is both a working train station and the Museum of Portuguese Language that is wholly owned by the state government. Responsibility for the property is shared between the São Paulo State Railway Company (under the Secretary of Transport), The Secretary of Culture and the broadcaster, Rede Globo. The State Government is in charge of both of these ministries and of their expenditures and it maintains the close relationship with Globo as an important sponsor. The overheads incurred in the running of the Estação da Luz are mostly borne by the railways, while the recent restoration has been managed by an agency of the Culture Ministry and the museum wing is overseen by the private sector in the form of Rede Globo.

The combined complexities of this combination of multiple processes, properties and bodies is managed with Fundap – the Foundation for Administrative Development – playing the statutory and central coordinating role. Until the mid 1980s, Fundap had managed a paper based system and information was gathered over the telephone and through more detailed visits which required around 10 dedicated staff operating out of a single office. The system revolved around the yearly inventory – a stock-take of the entire holdings of the state – where each of the fifty to sixty responsible ministries, foundations or autonomous bodies brought a large box of papers for processing. At the end of 1984, the paper system was replaced by a PICK database managed and updated locally and maintained these same in-house controls over quality and process based on familiarity and continuity. Table 1: Evolution of IT processes in State property management systems Description Advantages
Permanent records Fast access, Information gathering aligned with data integrity Faster, distributed submissions and data entry

Time, Effort, Storage Paper, Submissions, Low participation


Paper Submissions, Paper Records

PICK Database Paper Submission, Electronic Records (1986)

Domino Notes (1999) SGI (2003)

& Electronic
submissions, Electronic records, Limited private network Electronic submissions, Electronic records, Internet

Devolved data management, limited coverage, expensive

More participation, Universal accessibility, Relational database, Grained permissions

Devolved data management, Complexity

In 1999, the first reports were produced with Lotus Notes and Domino databases managing communications and remote gathering of submissions, spelling the end of boxes and boxes of paper. The system was accessible within the City of São Paulo and ran on the state's private data network. There was another unforeseen gain from this wider participation as the database and records became visible to a great number of users and these "extra pairs of eyes" helped build the quality of entries through more frequent and direct interactions with property data. There were huge costs of maintaining and extending a system build on proprietary networks with proprietary software and the state took advantage of World Bank funded technology initiatives to modernise and upgrade the state's fiscal infrastructure. This money centred on the treasury ministry and motivated a familiar internet and relational database solution which was delivered in 2003 as the Sistema de Gerenciamento de Imóveis (SGI). Figure 1 shows the structure and operations of State institutions within the SGI planning system.

Figure 1: Schematic view the responsible bodies integrated within the SGI

Fundap in the system Fundap were initially ascribed and funded as administrators of the property management system by the Attorney Branch in the 1970s. Currently they are funded by the Treasury but their role as administrators remains unchanged. This change in connection between legal attribution and financial attribution - the transfer from PGE to SGE – meant that the SGI property system and its administration moved entirely “within the state”. The PGE Attorney Branch was part of an independent justice system, the SGE and Treasury part of the politically accountable state financial apparatus. This has little operational effect on the administrative function although it placed the evolution of property management on the same technological trajectory as the Treasury. Fundap's operations within the system are to:

To systematically update and produce strategic reports for the state government, for example bi-annual reports on the properties for which state bodies are paying rent • Permissions and norms for database access and use: establishing profiles, managing passwords, rights to read/write records • Human Resource capacity building: trainings, feedback, frequently asked questions

Producing reports for the State Governor, advisors, the Property Commission and wider public administration • Put forward reports in support of public administration objectives • Continuous evaluation of the SGI property system in conjunction with the Prodesp Treasury technology team People and logistics Fundap is at the heart of the logistical effort of coordinating the principal resources of São Paulo's property management effort. It is responsible for user management and instruction across the entire state with weekly training and subscriptions sessions for state employees who can travel for up to 10 hours to reach the capital. Fundap has a consulting role as the principal human interface between the SGI property system and the politicians that comprise the Property Commission and who still work with paper and with laws. This is additional to responsibilities for information quality to the CGE Treasury and finance and to the PGE Attorney for statutory sign-off. Finally there are direct personal connections to the developers and maintainers of the SGI property system within the Treasury Ministry.

Table 2: Functions and routines Rented properties Costs of and quantity of properties rented (Monthly and yearly reports) Comparison of rental values (with up to date price changes) Subtotals per end-use (administrative, infrastructure etc.) Troubleshooting Duplicate addresses Corrections Missing documentation fields Properties overview Properties ceded to other organizations (state government, charities) By final use By locale or district By the responsible body

Property Commission decisions Sales, purchases, reviews - Legal documentation Scans of deeds and certificates

Critical path Fundap is the point at which value is added and created, where data gathered is shaped into reports and represents the critical path for the processes and tasks that comprise the State property management system. It is also the only part that receives direct funding and the system relies on fine grained customary connections that underlie the e-government of the SGI property system. Fountain has said that, 'Organizations tend to patch information systems onto existing structures in ways that may enhance efficiency and capacity but that otherwise maintain the status quo' (Fountain 2001:19) and this form of technology enactment has certainly been the case with the SGI property system. However, it is also an example of integrated e-government that reaches the objectives of a government-to-government operation available 24 hours a day that crosses departments and ministries and that is oriented to functional user requirements.

Informal contracts and joined up government
Technology, and especially internet interconnection, opened up the possibility of joined up government, fully interactive and self aware agencies and ministries with excellent communications and shared information pools. The SGI property system represents many of these multi-agency, government to government operations and service chains but through discrete channels that overlay the principle operational triangle - the Commission funds Fundap, Prodesp (from the Treasury) provides the technical infrastructure, Fundap executes the instructions of the Property Commission and CGE submissions. These concrete connections and the channel relationships are shown in Figure 2 along with the non-authoritative link to government agencies as property holding information providers together with a future public interface. Figure 2: Channels in the SGI

The efficiency of these contracts has not been measured, tested or compared because they are not effectively contracts and are not bound by time or price. Some of the arrangements do not officially exist and are kept going through negotiation and reciprocity. This is an economical solution for a back office integration of processes, which fulfils most requirements of all the stakeholders. The relationships and responsibilities of the executive bodies have shifted over the years however despite the changing configuration of the chains of information, the channels though which they pass (Cachon 2006:3) remain stable. This has maintained the contractual impasse that maintains and sustains the SGI property system yet prevents fully budgeted, measured and planned system. The channels are operating at different speeds, under different priorities and with varying strategic foci and the informality of contractual obligations allows the maintenance of a database, management information system and collaborative interface that are under no single control. Again, Fountain illustrates a stark comparison with private sector arrangements and “(I)n contrast to the economic firms in the market, government agencies face strong institutional constraints on network formation in the form of oversight relationships, the budget process, and a long tradition of adversarial bureaucratic politics. The incentive of profits and economic success that accrues to firms

that form wise strategic alliances in the private sector is not available in government. On the contrary, efficiency gains from networking across agencies are likely to result in the loss of budget, staff, and even agency jurisdiction. These disincentives to the development of crossagency networks contrast sharply with the networking logic of the Internet or the logic of networks of organizations that benefit from cooperation” (Fountain: 2001, 101). This perfectly describes the disincentive to co-operate due the obstacles of instituting matrix budgeting, negotiating the division of responsibilities and collaborative planning and the risks of reduced budgets, staff shrinkage or reassignment and turfloss. Table 3 presents a fuller picture of the actual obligations and expectations operating through the service chain channels. Table 3: Channels and obligations for SGI participants

Legal Financial Policy Technology




Timely, accurate Sign-off and monitor statutory Statutory duty information changes Timely, accurate Sign-off and monitor financial Statutory duty information changes and reports Timely, accurate information Time tolerance Policy, making Maintain and update system, Informal interface, forms and reports Quality of training, users always Input changes system. information, Statutory role decision

Administration Funds Logistical
Fast, Reporting ministries and available Training. agencies


Operations and channel process opportunities
The principal defining feature of the SGI is that it is a database independent from an institution and accessible to all. This common denominator is sufficient to please all of the participants and to maintain these more limited forms of communication and exchange. Information should pass up and down through these channels and there are clearly opportunities for channel partnerships and ideally in the technology channel where there are shared interests and baseline expertise. Canalization and the lack of direct collaboration are reinforced by conflict avoidance, state precedence and a lack of multilateral contact. Budgets and contracts arrangements also reflect planning that focus on inputs rather than those the matrix while the channels maintain their specific functions motivated by internal accountability with system efficiency as a hoped-for by product. If there is a structural contractual form and the entire service chain is dependent on the reciprocal obligations of each of the organisations that compose it then this is a holistic yet historical arrangement that is neither dynamic nor future proof. The contract binds the different stakeholders and channels together with the expectations and obligations that have developed over the last thirty years. It is a simple arrangement with few crossovers – all of the organizations have discrete roles with the

exception of Fundap in its logistical role. Changes are negotiated well in advance with few fundamental changes or shifts in power taking place, the most dynamic element to change has been the technology and the process – now indivisible - which have determined and shaped contractual relationships while maintaining a balance of responsibilities. Specific characteristics are: Legal Channel This operates as the conduit for plans and legal documentation and through the PGE State Attorney's Office. The process is a short exchange that could be enriched with scans of plans and documentation related to each target property. This is the most estranged channel perhaps because of the past responsibility, its institutional independence and irregular (buying/selling/transfer of title) interaction yet with natural connections with policy and management operations. Financial Channel Operated through the treasury and is the route for property valuations and for expenditure on running costs. Its operations encompass a monthly audit of rents, a continual inventory of property costs and expenditures, a mandate for property valuation. There is an opportunity for a connection to market data for property on property valuation and direct involvement with restoration budgeting. Executive Channel The council looks at use permissions, ceded property, donated property, mixed uses, administrative transfers, concessions, letting, rights of way, authorisation to sell etc There are strong relationships with city government and federal government and other private sector concessions and partnerships. An authoritative process to incentivise reporting by property holding state institutions will be operationalised. IT Channel This channel could integrate better though financial, statutory and logistical interaction. The technology behind the SGI property system could learn from newer systems are built from lessons already learnt from previous deployments. The Seraphim heritage pilot will inform the SGI with an enormous amount of new experiences however there remain local lessons. Without direct feedback channels and with user feedback mediated thorough third parties, contact is minimized and despite great efforts, anomalies remain. An example of a process refinement is the monthly rent report, still produced on a spreadsheet that requires updated renting data and factoring inflation. It consists of 11 steps and has to surmount potential errors in data and tables. It is a very visual example of potential gains though addressing removed and distant data sources through channel partnerships.

Measurements and Pilot studies

If these the loose obligations and expectations are to survive and continue to deliver timely information and co-ordination, then the performance of the system needs to be measured and future options tested rather than negotiated. The first steps are the development of indicators, and a pilot project to incorporate opportunities for generating interaction. The lack of in-built indicators needs to be addressed if the quality of data is to be extended and to identify areas for training and examples of excellence that can be duplicated. The performance indicators should include: property information gathered, not gathered and an idea of what potential inclusions can also be considered. Key performance indicator tests are vital in order to define

measurable flows and results and Fundap is developing three such metrics. Figure 3: Key performance indicators for SGI property system information Process tracking metric Focus: identify active paths and blockages to target training and process planning Formula: metric = Time taken between each handover point from submission to signoff Profile: aligned with new database ticketing system to help submission of jobs and issues reporting User interaction metric Focus: identify individual and institutional capacity - most active users to act as local trainers, inactive users to gain insight on training effectiveness Formula: metric = number of user entries over a time period per institution Profile: a short database report function to integrate the SGI property system with user management and training Data completion metric Focus: identify areas and methods to improve information quality Formula: metric = group and display form name by percent completion, target fields completed Profile: a tool to influence effective key choice and future data design Figure three gives a clear path through the processes and the metrics that can lead to solutions. An end-to-end measure of task progress is an easily implemented formalisation of the email request – email confirm – research/report – data update – email confirm chain. User derived opportunities lie in updating information perhaps with non statutory updates and queued moderation that can avoid holiday staff lags and might solicit information supplied by the public s for updating data preventing access. Training could also be enhanced by identifying local points of excellence or interface issues that are affecting process outcomes. The issue of information quality might highlight the efficiency and accuracy of using the CEP zip postcode as a primary key and information missing – possible alternatives or backups – maps and photos.

Heritage properties pilot
Can database modifications effect a transition from joined up government? Some of this is answered in the operationalisation and technology shift towards open standards, protocols and services such as xml. These can free information from a database using the API programming interface to allow only certain types of data in and out. This allows a public subset of the database to interact with, in order to provide an external service and to generate gains. The value of “extra pairs of eyes” has already been noted above in the context of collaborative data monitoring and this would be an expected gain from the pilot where Fundap will allow selected data from records on heritage properties to be shared through a public web site. Open standards and disintegrating processes also lead to the countertendency of the reorganisation and configuration of these data in new forms. This reintegration of information is through widgets and mashups that offer liquid interaction, interlinking and the addition of new value to data. For the State – as a commercial entity – the two most striking values that can be added are public service and public input – all for the marginal cost of providing a designed interface and expert content moderation.

The Seraphim heritage documentation website pilot project is moving towards these Web 2.0 standards where the product can exist outside of the chain, on the web, with read and write permissions and the service can emerge from the back office to deliver: Public generated data Heritage properties are open for commenting and annotating. Warnings, updates to inaccurate data, observations, comments and histories are the first stage of this interaction while user submissions in the form of photos and videos would be welcomed in the second stage. Within the SGI property system there are very few visual attachments which enrich identification of, and with, properties. Non-statutory submissions and updates The pilot is generating a new space for informal submissions by non-experts with passwords gained from the heritage portal rather than from the SGI property system. Users with this type of interface might originate from within the public sector and Fundap will also work hard to deepen participation by heritage organisations, non-governmental organisations and general public access. The interface has a strong spam filter and simplified moderation with tagging to sort submissions by function, process and ad hoc categories to revisualise and better reutilise contributed data. Electronic access and accessibility A digital version or summary for every asset from property titles, to historical plans is a high priority which has no existing service chain for adding to the property database. There is the potential for immediately shareable records making hitherto inaccessible documentation searchable, saveable and manipulatable. This growth in accessibility is fuelled by the widening availability of free and easy-to-use content management and an expectation that information should be available and present rather than overpresented and impenetrable. This means delivering the maximum content with the minimum dressing, lifting barriers, dropping procedures and beginning to trust the public to participate in general reporting activities, albeit through limited moderated filters. The heritage data of the SGI property system can be opened up. Through separate databases and data connections over APIs a live public subset of the SGI data is visible and becomes part of an open documentation pool. Heritage documentation in cities has been a victim of unshared resources and it often follows that the richer the information, the harder it is to locate, to triangulate and assimilate. A large number of repositories also implies a larger number of gatekeepers and of 'outsiders' to information that is effectively public. In São Paulo, the Fundap research team has to negotiate four heritage organisations, eight federal, state and city ministries together with three document repositories and nine libraries. Each of these requires some form of introductory letter or permit in order to access resources and things don't happen very quickly. This experience of badly connected document archives perfectly matches the concept of the information silo. Wikipedia defines this as 'a management system incapable of reciprocal operation with other, related management systems'. The gatekeepers, procedures, formats and different classifications all conspire against connecting information or constructing more definitive resources. In order to reach beyond these barriers we have to declare independence for heritage documentation. In order to free

documentation, we need to take lessons from the new information architecture and the experiences of digital collections and to look at the examples of free online services and free software.

Figure 4: SGI management interface and Seraphim public interface

The new platform to provide public and administrative access to records of city properties that are under the protection of federal, state and municipal heritage laws acknowledges that ultimate ownership of all these resources lies with the public, the voters and the taxpayers. This information, these details and data should exist beyond the information silos and there is a strong demand for accessible documentation for research at one level, and on another level there is demand for casual use such as for tourism. The Fundap approach has been to filter and research external resources in order to assemble histories, plans and images of São Paulo's built heritage as a basis for enriching, popularising and widening the reach of property information. Another priority is modularity and this are already permissions for other state, government or independent organisations and agencies to either contribute to the information directly or run parallel systems. The system is open source and can be shared, lent, duplicated or passed on to other organisations to use as a basis of their own information dissemination initiatives. Ajax and web2.0 refinements ease the viewing, reading and even the authoring of resources, all online and away from the quicksand of directories and the hell of email. With an ultralow budget Fundap can still deliver full histories, property blueprints, digital maps, a real estate database, photo gallery, online updating and access control for sensitive information. This operationalises hitherto dead information and leverages the dimensions of maps and images; taxonomy and pivoted categories plus participation by users to both read the resources and to write, interact and upload.

Spatial keys, markers and index
The CEP zip postcode is already a primary key of the SGI property system and it is a ubiquitous key in Brazil. Alone it has little meaning and requires the context of maps and images. These media have become vastly easier to produce, store and share meanwhile the State of São Paulo taking advantage of the growing simplicity of serving maps and photos to add to detail, accuracy, context and experience. Maps

offer a lot to property management information. They are used to visualise distance between threats and opportunities for protection and conservation, monitoring the encroachment of illegal developments and revealing the most vulnerable boundaries. They can also locate possibilities for the extension of protected areas, registrations or the consolidation of historical clusters. Based on breakthrough standards of time-toload, navigability and usability, there are fewer barriers for users of newer online maps and fewer inhibitions for using digital map tools as historical documentation. Online maps alone can offer a great level of interactivity, the ability to show many layers of information plus a spatial search and match. Government to Government Seraphim heritage documentation website pilot uses municipal data and this will extend to maps supplied by the water company and much of the functionality will develop over time with gathering contributions and by-products of our own work. Many of the possibilities for the heritage pilot map functionality and the integration of mapping in documentation processes are informed by the mashups of recent years. From the perspective of the mashup, new layers can be added from pre-prepared external sources: visitor data, traffic conditions, and architectural history. We are also able to enrich maps by plotting additional data 'on the go': trails, panoramic viewpoints, 'how to get there' info. The Fundap site allows users to access information through properties plotted onto maps, which are hyperlinked to the records of the individual properties and plotted by the focuses shown below. They can show the focuses of category - integrity, proximity – spread, relativity – context and layers – parallels. Taxonomy and operations Weinberger’s concept of “Small Pieces Loosely Joined” matches the devolved information gathering and informal contractual configurations of the SGI property system management. Similarly the building block of new open data formats rearranges the basic shape of knowledge, from (typically) trees to miscellanised piles. This has consequences for the nature of topics, the role of metadata, and, crucially, the authority of knowledge. In short, the change in the shape of knowledge is also changing its place. (Weinberger 2006). Written data has a thesaurus view, a concordance view while property data has the area view – conjoined but between districts, the historical view, the vacant properties view. The State is learning through interaction with similar examples to the data collected which shows a growing clutter of added, excavated and implied categorisation and connection. It is the Richard Rogers effect on the repository with the new information architecture creating Pompidou Centres and Lloyd's Buildings with the pipes, whistles and metadata extended beyond the archives and wound around the exterior. This extra categorisation and metadata also represent navigational pivots and facts – users can view records according to these categorisations. There is a strong use-value for an information process architecture that allows people to navigate many categories, to show them where they are within the information and what other properties are closely related and to give them the possibility to contribute or move to a different information level or focus. Participation architecture Tagging is the stage door to participation. It takes a large effort to research a contribution. It takes a small effort to add a comment or extra information. It takes a tiny effort to add an extra keyword or tag to a document. With a small and dedicated

user group these contributions can be generated in a more focused and intense way to share work among a number of experts or to gather meaning over time. With a larger public then the focus accuracy and relevance of keywording is less but layers of meaning develop with a tagging average. Content is found, content is used and people interact with content to make it more findable. Participation future Participation starts with team members and widens to the professional community before the general public become involved. These initial expert contributors will offer sharper, more fundamental tags, additions, comments and lay the foundation for the participation of a greater number of users. According to Charles Arthur, “It's an emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will "interact" with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it.” (Arthur 2006) The expectation of contributions can therefore be overstated but it requires patience to make a system of documentation open enough to allow a wider reading and writing of content. Success is more certain if the technical barriers to entry are lowered to provide safe spaces for contributions and the means of lifting information free of databases The work is continual and punctuated while there can be little obsession for the final product when the product is continuously produced and rewritten. Another obsession - with security – can harm contributions when it cannot distinguish between possible collaborators and possible threats. The ultimate objective is a documentation system open for the public to add their images, memories, detailed comments and to tag items with keywords to enrich the context, depth and findability of materials. The resulting metadata and keywords are relationships that can be mapped and make up layers of different types of information – photos, comments, heritage tagging – that reveal new combinations and configurations of heritage. Conclusion For the State property management system to remain dynamic and viable within a regime of informal contracts then it requires internal strengthening and a future direction. Metrics and new channel relationships can effect efficiency and interlinking to build cohesions and extend dialogue over processes, planning and decisions. A view to the potential of the read/write web can address information blockage and remobilise information and allow flexible deployment, reporting and service delivery.

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