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An Extended National Spatial Data Infrastructure Framework: The Role of Other Organizations

In 1993, 1994, and 1995 this committee issued reports on the contents of NSDI, the need for development of a robust NSDI in the United States, and a method for satisfying that need through creative partnerships (NRC, 1993, 1994, 1995). These reports have received widespread acceptance, and as the concepts embodied in these reports mature, it is becoming increasingly obvious that an effective and widely used NSDI will be developed with substantial if not primary input from organizations outside of the federal government. The FGDC has undertaken the task of promoting the development of the NSDI. The core contents of the NSDI are referred to as the Framework. The seven themes that form the Framework for the NSDI were detailed in Chapter 1 and are identified in Table 1. In addition, the Framework also includes procedures, guidelines, and technology to enable participants to build, integrate, maintain, distribute, and use Framework data. In this chapter we explore the roles of non-federal organizations, and offer suggestions as to appropriate extensions of the NSDI conceptual framework at the state, tribal, city, and county levels.

ARGUMENTS FOR AN EXTENDED FRAMEWORK

The Framework, as it is now defined, serves the purposes of the federal government and is useful for national or large-region proj-



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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus 4 An Extended National Spatial Data Infrastructure Framework: The Role of Other Organizations In 1993, 1994, and 1995 this committee issued reports on the contents of NSDI, the need for development of a robust NSDI in the United States, and a method for satisfying that need through creative partnerships (NRC, 1993, 1994, 1995). These reports have received widespread acceptance, and as the concepts embodied in these reports mature, it is becoming increasingly obvious that an effective and widely used NSDI will be developed with substantial if not primary input from organizations outside of the federal government. The FGDC has undertaken the task of promoting the development of the NSDI. The core contents of the NSDI are referred to as the Framework. The seven themes that form the Framework for the NSDI were detailed in Chapter 1 and are identified in Table 1. In addition, the Framework also includes procedures, guidelines, and technology to enable participants to build, integrate, maintain, distribute, and use Framework data. In this chapter we explore the roles of non-federal organizations, and offer suggestions as to appropriate extensions of the NSDI conceptual framework at the state, tribal, city, and county levels. ARGUMENTS FOR AN EXTENDED FRAMEWORK The Framework, as it is now defined, serves the purposes of the federal government and is useful for national or large-region proj-

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus ects. But the seven themes, as now defined, may not fulfill the needs for more local studies by states, tribal nations, cities, and counties, for two reasons: The information the seven themes encompass is required in greater detail at the local level. For example, roads may have to be described by their edges instead of by their centerline. Property owners and local officials often need to define and locate the right of way between an individual’s property and a road. Tax maps are often the most critical resource in resolving local land use and zoning conflicts. These maps must also be integrated with the location of specific buildings and the location of utility infrastructure networks. It simply is not feasible to accurately depict these features at the map scale used by federal mapping organizations. In fact, the largest scale federal map series is still the USGS 1:24,000 series of 7.5-minute topographic quadrangles. In the local mapping community, maps of this scale would be considered small scale with a map accuracy of approximately 40 feet, based on the statistical methods advocated in the FGDC standard for specification of spatial accuracy. The base maps for large-scale mapping are often legally required to be of a scale of 1 inch to 100 feet or 1:1200. The requirement for large-scale source materials is critical for the development of federal-local partnerships. It must be noted that this is not the first time that a NRC committee has highlighted the need for federal support for the development of a nation-wide database that accurately depicts individual property ownership records (see Box 5). The committee is pleased to note that the FGDC has recognized this need for increased resolution, concluding in its 2000 assessment of the Community Demonstration Projects that “…many federal datasets lack sufficient resolution to support local planning needs…” and advocating that “…federal agencies should continue to enhance the quality of data using the latest technology…” (FGDC, 2001). Additional themes may be needed at the state, tribal nation, county, and city levels: for example, water rights in the western United States, or utility information at municipal levels. It is clear that not

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus all types of data layers are used by everybody, but at the state, tribal nation, city, and county levels some additional themes are used by a great number of users. In such cases, it may make sense to incorporate these additional data themes into an extended Framework, incorporating all fundamental data layers identified for the cities, counties, tribal nations, states, and the nation. In general, one would expect that data layers might require increasingly finer resolution and perhaps a greater amount of data detail at the city or county level than at the state or tribal nation level. The same may be true of the state or tribal nation level compared to the national level. Of course, some data layers may have the identical resolution and data detail in more than one of the three geographic levels (nation, state or tribal, local). The committee developed a matrix that attempts to examine the responsibility for the creation and maintenance of different framework data layers (Table 1). The data layers are the ones mentioned in the National Academy of Public Administration’s 1998 publication, Geographic Information for the 21st Century (NAPA, 1998). The intent of this matrix is simply to demonstrate that the NSDI must be built on the basis of shared responsibilities, costs, benefits, and control. The committee recognizes that responsibilities will vary across the country depending on available resources and differing mandates and regulations, as well as property ownership, density of development, and other factors. The matrix could serve as a useful starting point for the development of an extended framework. Preliminary designations of primary and supplementary responsibilities for each layer are indicated. It should be noted that orthoimagery is viewed as a critical component of the development of any extended Framework data collection effort. The ultimate responsibility for the creation and maintenance of any individual theme would be determined by the legislative or regulatory mandates in a particular region. It must be acknowledged that local government requirements for zoning, property assessment, or other land-use decisions will often determine where such authority resides. Some local governments have been able to couple these mandates with the requisite financial resources to develop such systems independent of other organizations. The chal

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus BOX 5 1980 NRC Report-Some Findings and Conclusions Remain Relevant to NSDI Partnership Programs in 2001 In 1980, the NRC Committee on Geodesy commissioned the Panel on a Multipurpose Cadastre to produce a report entitled Need for a Multipurpose Cadastre (NRC, 1980). Twenty years later it is useful to revisit some of the findings and recommendations contained in that report: “There is a critical need for a better land-information system in the United States to improve land-conveyance procedures, furnish a basis for equitable taxation, and provide much-needed information for resource management and environmental planning.” “The major obstacles in the development of a multipurpose cadastre are the organizational and institutional requirements. Reorganization and improved quality control for existing governmental functions will be required. Each of the components of the cadastral system already exists somewhere within our existing governmental structure. Many of the required data are being generated at the local level, and in most cases the users are the individual citizens and the local government officials and planning organizations.” “The components of a multipurpose cadastre are the following: A reference frame consisting of a geodetic network; A series of current, accurate large-scale maps; A cadstral overlay delineating all cadastral parcels; A unique identifying number assigned to each parcel that is used as a common index of all land records in information systems; and A series of land data files, each including a parcel identifier for purposes of information retrieval and linking with information in other data files.”

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus The Panel recommended: “…that technical studies continue to be sponsored by the federal government to identify consistent land information and display standards for use among and within federal agencies and between federal and state governments. These studies should rely on the authority of state governments to adopt the standards and organize the data collection, in cooperation with the federal government to ensure compatibility on a national basis, delegating these functions to local governments where appropriate. …that each state authorize an Office of Land Information Systems, through legislation where necessary, to implement the multipurpose cadastre. …that local governments be the primary access point for local land information.” “We recommend support by the federal government for the establishment of a center or centers of excellence in land-information science, for the purposes of providing a program that develops scholars and professionals. The curriculum should include direct experience with land-data-systems problems.” The present committee notes that although there has been some organizational progress since 1980 (e.g., NSGIC, FGDC, GeoData Alliance), the fundamental need to improve the nation’s geospatial data capabilities and resources remains as a challenge to the implementation of a robust NSDI. lenge is to find ways to reach a common ground that can benefit all the potential users. This visual representation of the actual features on the ground, in their planimetrically correct position, provides the best evidence and source material for updating and correcting spatial data. A fundamental goal and driving force behind an extended Framework is that data will be collected once and maintained regularly. In other words, if a data layer is part of the NSDI and also a component of both

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus TABLE 1 Potential Responsibilities for Data Layers in a Spatial Information Infrastructure Theme Federal State Local geodetic control primary supplementary supplementary cadastral data supplementary supplementary primary political boundaries primary for states and international primary for counties and state reserves primary for municipalities and local areas base cartographic and elevations primary for scales smaller than 1:24,000 supplementary for road building and state projects supplementary for local projects bathymetric primary for offshore areas, int’l waters supplementary for lakes and reservoirs supplementary for ponds geologic primary supplementary supplementary hydrography primary supplementary (water rights) supplementary transportation & utilities supplementary primary for highways primary for some utilities soils primary for coordination supplementary primary for survey vegetation primary for federal lands primary for state lands primary for local lands wetlands and wildlife habitat primary supplementary supplementary cultural and demographic primary supplementary supplementary digital orthoimagery (scale dependent) primary at coarse resolutions supplementary primary at fine resolutions statistical base maps & address files supplementary supplementary primary land cover & land use (added to napa list) primary for land cover supplementary for both primary for land use NOTE: Bold text boxes include the seven NSDI Framework themes.

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus a State Spatial Data Infrastructure (SSDI) and a Local Spatial Data Infrastructure (LSDI), the data for these layers need to be collected at the lowest level and generalized to the other levels. This ensures logical consistency among the parts of the extended NSDI Framework. Again, it must be noted that the data content standards being developed by the FGDC working groups are facilitating this process. The 16 accepted standards and the additional ones under development represent a major effort to develop consistent definitions and descriptions of geographic features and attributes. There are at least nine major steps necessary to realize this extended Framework: Definition of the contents of the city, county, or local extended Framework. Definition of the contents of the state or tribal nation extended Framework. Definition of the extended Framework hardware architecture. Definition of coordination mechanisms. Assignments for layer responsibilities. Definition of quality standards (collection and maintenance) and procedures for the development of the extended Framework at all levels. Data generation in agreement with the corresponding Framework. Data maintenance program. Budget allocation. This chapter primarily addresses the first and second items above. For further details and discussions, the interested reader is directed to the recent National Academy of Public Administration’s volume entitled Geographic Information for the 21st Century (NAPA, 1988). With respect to the last item above, the lack of financial resources will be an impediment to development of an extended Framework for smaller counties, cities, and possibly states. In such cases, substantial subsidies will be needed from higher levels of government, unless development can be financed through partnerships with other organizations.

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus DEFINITION OF A CITY OR COUNTY EXTENDED FRAMEWORK The starting point for any city or county extended Framework is FGDC’s Framework. Therefore, a county Framework should include geodetic control, orthophoto imagery, elevation, transportation, hydrography, governmental units, and cadastral information. The geodetic control may be supplemented at the local level by local surveys, and the orthophoto imagery could also be supplemented by larger scale coverage than that collected federally. Information on the utility location is important at the local level, and is likely to become more important as the utility industry and public-sector utility services exploit new technologies that require more accurate geospatial data. More detailed elevation data may also be part of the local jurisdiction’s contribution to an LSDI. For example, we already have counties that have 0.5-foot contours derived from orthoimagery produced by the private sector under contract. For the transportation layer at the county level, it is expected that transportation features such as roads will be defined by their edges, and maybe by the spaces corresponding to the road right-of-way in addition to the road centerlines. For hydrography, additional information such as the location of each bank of the watercourse, its navigability for small craft, intakes from rivers and streams, and inputs into the same, may be monitored. For these federal Framework themes it is clear that local level data will enrich most of the layers of the NSDI. A major difference between the local Framework and national Framework is the definition of the content for both the governmental units layer, which accurately depicts a wide range of administrative unit boundaries, and the cadastral information layer, which depicts the legal boundaries of parcels of property ownership. Whereas the cadastral information overlay from the federal NSDI could be expected to include both the Public Lands Survey System (PLSS) used in the western states and federally-owned lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, the Park Service, and other federal agencies, the local Framework would include details of privately-owned parcels. This is an entirely different magnitude of data

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus collection compared with the supplemental information described in the preceding paragraph. Similarly, whereas the NSDI contains international and state boundaries, the preponderance of other boundary information would be provided to the federal level by state and local levels. Municipal boundaries, voting districts, city wards, county or municipal parks, school attendance areas, and similar administrative boundaries should be provided by the local level. In some cases, the responsibility to collect, integrate, and maintain the data theme lies with the state but has been delegated to the local level. Examples abound of existing files that contain such digital information. Geospatial information describing ownership boundaries and structure footprints is often accompanied by owner name, street address, assessed valuation, and many more attributes (some databases include and make available as public domain data, square footage of buildings, floor plans, number of bathrooms, etc.). A second difference is the reference system, although hopefully this difference will be temporal in nature. Even though it is highly recommended that NAD 83 (North American Datum, 1983), NAVD 88 (North American Vertical Datum, 1988), and latitude and longitude be used as the basis of a positional system in the NSDI, at the local government level this may not be practical. For example, most local surveys are conducted in the State Plane Coordinate system (SPC). Therefore, it may be preferable to use SPC rather than latitude and longitude for some implementations at the local level. The fact that transformation equations exist between the different SPC zones and latitude and longitude lessens the practical impact of this difference. It may eventually mean that the data are available in latitude and longitude but that a separate file in SPC is kept for local daily use. Recent developments in GIS technology allow differences in projection and datum to be overcome “on the fly.” Another major change at the state and local levels would be the inclusion of additional themes. For example, an additional theme at the local level could be the location of public services: schools, hospitals, police and fire stations, etc. Each of these features may be annotated with attributes at a level that could not be done by a national agency, yet the information would be valuable at any level. It is assumed here that the positional and attribute resolution of the data layers at the county level will be the highest (or at least no less than

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus the resolutions at the state or national level). Traditionally, soils data have been collected at the county level. Traffic accidents and crime statistics are collected locally. Incidences of disease data are most useful at the local level. Other possible themes include ZIP code areas, zoning requirements, and traffic flows. It is evident that a local extended Framework must be defined with the cooperation of city and county officials, and that only those additional themes used for the majority of applications should be incorporated into an extended Framework. To do this, county officials need to be involved in the discussions leading to the definition and establishment of an extended Framework. These discussions should take the form of a nation wide needs assessment which would develop a clear articulation of the content and necessary scale of spatial data required to meet specific objectives and mandates at each level of government. The outcome of this must be a list of themes and their content that can be applied at the local level. This bottom-up approach is in line with the I-Team initiatives advocated by OMB. The committee is encouraged that the National Association of Counties (NACo) began formal cooperation with the FGDC in 1997. This cooperation needs to be continued with specific goals established relating to the definition of an extended Framework. DEFINITION OF A STATE OR TRIBAL NATION EXTENDED FRAMEWORK The starting point of a state or tribal nation extended Framework is also the FGDC’s Framework. Therefore, a state Framework will include geodetic control, orthophoto imagery, elevation, transportation, hydrography, governmental units, and cadastral information. The geodetic control, elevation, and orthophoto imagery layers may be supplemented by the state. Governmental units, a state responsibility that is often delegated to the local level (municipal boundaries, school district boundaries), would probably not receive much additional supplementation except for such features as state legislative district boundaries, state parks, and state forests. Similarly, the cadastral layer augmentation at the

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus state level might be limited to state-owned lands, however, some states such as Maryland maintain tax parcels on a statewide basis. A tribal nation Framework would differ from state Frameworks in several ways. Among the most important is the complex pattern of property ownership on many reservations, with some property held by the community, some by individuals, and some by non-tribal owners. This makes distribution of income from tribal assets (e.g., oil and gas lease income) particularly difficult. The involvement of the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs adds an additional bureaucratic layer that makes geospatial data management somewhat more difficult. One major difference between a state and tribal nation Framework and the FGDC Framework is the definition of the content of the transportation layer. For example, at the state level linear transportation features such as roads may still be defined by their centerlines (as in the federal contribution to the NSDI), but they may carry additional information (county limits, mileage, snow removal, signage placement, and other maintenance responsibilities). New technologies, such as GPS-equipped vans, roadway sensors, high-resolution (1-meter) remote sensing, and digital photogrammetry, are revolutionizing the availability of accurate geospatial data in the transportation layer. In most states, departments of transportation are major agencies that handle such services as driver licensing, vehicle title and registration, interstate commerce taxes, in addition to the features listed above. As the spatial dimensions of these layers become increasingly in demand, the states will find that this information should be made compatible with the SSDI. Hydrography is also of major concern at the state level, and includes navigation, energy, and recreational users as well as point and non-point pollution sources. There are also regional concerns over water rights and quality. Watersheds often contain several local jurisdictions, and therefore the state must assume responsibility for data relating to drainage basins. The state that handles fishing licenses typically designates public access points to lakes and waterways, patrols open water, and plays a major role in the mitigation of natural disasters involving its watercourses. Even though it is highly recommended that NAD 83 and NAVD 88 and latitude and longitude be used as the bases of a

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus positional system at the county or local level, this may not be practical at the state government level. For example, in the case of the State of Ohio, NAD 27 is the basic reference system for horizontal data for a large amount of the existing spatial data for the state. Some states mandate the use of the SPC. Another major difference is theme related: The location of wetlands, ecosystems, land cover, watersheds, and geologic formations are themes a large number of state agencies use. In some cases historic buildings, monuments, or burial grounds are state themes as well as features required for disaster preparedness and emergency response. It is evident that a state or tribal extended Framework must be defined with the cooperation of state or tribal officials, and that only those additional themes used for most of the state or tribal agencies should be incorporated into an extended Framework. A meeting of the major stakeholders concerned with geographic data layers at the state and tribal level needs to be convened in order to discuss and define an extended Framework. As in the case of counties, the outcome of this step must be a list of themes and their content. The FGDC understands that it must develop effective coalitions with state and local government organizations if it is going to succeed in the development of an extended Framework. The committee is especially encouraged by the efforts to establish a strong working relationship with the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC), and considers that this is the primary partnership needed to undertake the definition of the extended SSDI. SUMMARY OF SPATIAL DATA THEMES Many data themes have been mentioned in the above short discussions. The responsibility of the different levels of government for the various themes are described in Table 1. Where the federal government bears primary responsibility, the supplemental collection at the state and local government level must at least meet the federal data standards. In most instances, state and local standards are more rigorous than those at the federal level. But where the primary responsibility resides with the local government, supplemental

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus information collected by state and federal governments should at least meet the local standards. In practice this has not always been the case. For some layers, primary responsibility is shared among two or three levels of government for different parts of the layer (e.g., political boundaries and vegetation). Data standards are a critical element of this effort. It has also become clear that accurate, current orthrophotography is a critical building block. Clearly, the federal government has a primary responsibility for a digital imagery data layer that covers the entire country. Hydrography, wetlands, and wildlife habitat, vegetation, geology, and bathymetry for offshore areas may be partially collected using imagery and the federal government has a primary responsibility in each of these areas. State and local governments have primary interests in transportation and utilities, soils, vegetation, and for certain features that can partially be collected with the aid of imagery. Cowen and Jensen (1998) have documented the spectral, spatial, and temporal resolution requirements for different types of features. However, local and state governments have different responsibilities for data layers that cannot be collected through the use of imagery. These differences between national, state and local needs are in some cases fundamental. At the start of a new century, most jurisdictions find a plethora of data available. Of greater need are personnel and processes to assess those data and to define the form in which those data are needed at each level. Free data are not free if the user must invest thousands of dollars to use them. Until the personnel at each user interface are hired and dedicated to identifying both data needs and the processes to create the forms in which those data can be easily used, one cannot answer the question, What data are needed? We have developed a tremendous capability to collect data, driven primarily by the development of technology that can automatically collect them. We need now to develop the comparable capabilities to process, assess, and use those data. The Framework concept and its extension at the state, tribal nation, city and county levels outlined above begins this process.

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus ROLES OF PRIVATE INDUSTRY AND NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATIONS The above discussion has focused on governmental units at the state, tribal, county, city, or local levels. However, it should not be assumed that these jurisdictions bear the full responsibility for extending the Framework. There are at least two roles for private industry and nonprofit organizations in the creation of an extended Framework: Performing the actual data capture and database creation under contract to governmental units; and Involvement in consortia of private firms, nonprofit organizations, and governmental units in collecting and maintaining necessary data. Examples can be cited at all levels of government of the use of private industry to convert analog geographic information into digital form. This arrangement is likely to continue: it does not make economic sense for governmental units in most instances to carry out the conversion of existing data, since this is a large one-time operation that can be carried out efficiently in the private sector. On the other hand, if the governmental unit does some comprehensive planning that includes provisions for maintenance prior to conversion, it makes economic sense for governmental operations to perform the maintenance and update functions. Unfortunately, to date much conversion has been accomplished without sufficient concern for maintenance and update, and it can therefore be expected that private firms and nonprofit organizations will also be needed for the initial update of the converted analog data. More important to the long-term maintenance and health of Framework data is the recognition by private industry that its future lies in providing services for individuals and firms that utilize the extended NSDI. Once that realization occurs, we will find that it is in the best economic interests of industry, nonprofit organizations, and government to form consortia to ensure continued availability of the data needed for a robust extended NSDI. The long-term role of private industry in an extended NSDI is to provide spatial data services to

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National Spatial Data Infrastructure Partnership Programs: Rethinking the Focus consumers, including individuals, corporations, governmental units at all levels, and nonprofit organizations. The Committee envisions the extended NSDI data to be a public asset. Ideally, the creation and development of useful information from these data, provided by service-oriented businesses, will constitute a lucrative marketplace. The private sector will also continue to have a major role in developing and maintaining the data. It will also provide valuable software tools that will enable communities to better serve their citizens. We are fortunate in the United States that some of the leaders in the geospatial business community are already adopting this mode of thinking and implementation. The New York State Office of Technology has a Data Sharing Cooperative Agreement that recognizes the benefits of data remaining in the public domain (distributed at no more than the cost of reproduction and shipping), enabling access to those data for all users, including value-added information-service marketing firms. There are certainly firms that still try to generate profits by selling digital data that are available to anyone. Once they understand the future, these firms can easily migrate to providing a useful service by enhancing a customer’s use of digital data rather than by selling the data themselves. The creation and maintenance of spatial data represents a substantial investment by a community. It must be recognized that there is a great disparity among local governments across the country in their ability to support an extended framework from both technical and financial perspectives. While many communities have devised creative ways to finance such systems, others will never be in a position to do so. Regional or even statewide consortia will be required to develop a consistent level of spatial data. Furthermore, in some parts of the country, mechanisms such as Geographic Information Block Grants will be required to overcome this “spatial digital divide.”

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