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CCTV News Articles

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  1. CCTV surveillance systems used as a crime fighting and prevention tool
  2. Live traffic cameras -- helping or hindering driver safety
  3. Respecting employee privacy rights in the workplace when using video surveillance
  4. School bus surveillance helps schools manage transportation security
  5. Surveillance Camera Positioning
  6. Traffic surveillance cameras speed up traffic and keep roads safe
  7. Video surveillance cameras in schools
  8. CCTV Security Camera Information for Non-Technical People
  9. Fast Food Video for the Ultimate Employee Protection


CCTV Surveillance systems used as a crime fighting and prevention tool

CCTV surveillance systems play an important role in fighting and preventing local and international crime. These closed circuit television systems were in place in London before the July 7th bombings and this footage is being used to identify suspects and investigate the attacks.

Besides fighting terrorism, CCTV security systems installed in public places or retail markets can deter crime, provide the police with leads, help citizens feel safer, and improve the economy of a crime-stricken area. Most CCTV systems have now gone digital for improved performance, surveillance camera manoeuvrability, and quicker feedback as compared to analog systems.

Implementing CCTV systems

Law enforcement or security professionals best support CCTV systems. These teams of professionals need to monitor the CCTV video evidence on a timely basis and they need to be properly trained in order to interpret suspicious behavior caught on the system. When all of these factors are in place, then the CCTV security system will be effective for keeping citizens and shoppers safe.

In the case of some municipalities or businesses not being able to afford all of the necessary components of a CCTV system, many CCTV providers can recommend a scalable approach so that priority security needs may be addressed first. Then, additional surveillance cameras can be purchased in succeeding years as the budget allows.

Digital CCTV systems and surveillance cameras

A modern digital CCTV security system consists of hardware and software components that collect and transmit vital surveillance camera information over fiber optic lines to control rooms staffed by security professionals and equipped with digital CCTV monitors. An example of the surveillance cameras used for reducing crime in LA's MacArthur Park include Day/Night 25X cameras equipped with removable infrared cut filters, 25x optical zoom lenses, 12x digital zoom capabilities, and 360-degree PTZ (pan tilt zoom) capabilities. This MacArthur Park system also includes DVRs (digital video recorders) and keypad controllers. DVRs are capable of saving CCTV data to a PC for up to ten weeks of recording and some even feature motion detection technology, which means that the footage is only recorded when motion triggers the DVR system.

Digital surveillance cameras range in type from compact, fixed cameras to direction-controlled models that can see in the dark under various lighting conditions. CCTV decision-makers need to know what kind of job each surveillance camera must fulfill. Will it watch the flow of passerby’s (fixed cameras) or will it need to monitor a crime-targeted area (dome cameras with PTZ functions)? These video security managers also need to consider weatherproofing their surveillance cameras if the cameras are mounted in an especially hot or cold climate, or if the viewing fields could be obscured by dirt or dust.

What kind of crimes do CCTV systems prevent?

Evidence has shown that CCTV systems mostly deter property crimes and robberies, but not more violent crimes such as rape and aggravated assault. CCTV systems may not catch these crimes because they may occur away from the surveillance cameras in more deserted areas. Fortunately in most situations, when a CCTV system is in place, criminals generally shy away from these monitored areas fearing prosecution since these recorded images can be used in court. As noted previously, in order for a CCTV system to be effective, the electronic system must be used in conjunction with human know-how and skills and it should be carefully integrated into existing security plans.

CCTV: Looking ahead

In the next few years, digital CCTV systems will evolve into wireless CCTV systems that employ GSM (global system for mobile communication) or 3G (third generation) connections. These wireless systems are completely portable and can deliver live images to a PC, an Internet phone, or a laptop. The cameras are tiny, but include many of the sophisticated features of full size digital CCTV cameras. CCTV customers are also seeking IP-based solutions with LAN/WAN delivery options despite some lags in the technology's image quality and frame rate.

"Make no mistake about it, the future is wireless," says Thomas M. Wade, president of Samsung CCTV. "We'll be pushing crime-related images to police cars in the future. Imagine an abduction or robbery in which the responding units are seeing the video and the suspects as they are rolling to the scene. It's all possible and it is the general direction of the industry."

There is also talk of linking CCTV cameras together to form a worldwide network to prevent terrorism, but this international surveillance system would cost billions of dollars and would require extensive international cooperation.

About the Author
Alice Osborn is a successful freelance writer providing practical information and advice about CCTV security systems for business, non-profit and home use. Click here to visit Video-Surveillance-Guide.com.

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Live traffic cameras -- helping or hindering driver safety

The red light traffic surveillance cameras used at busy intersections across the nation issue citations to drivers who run red lights. Sensors buried in the crosswalk trigger the cameras, which are mounted on traffic signals, to capture the date, time and speed of the red-light violating vehicle. Advocates of these live traffic cameras assert that the system is a cost-effective way to catch red light runners, make the roads safer, and allow law enforcement officials to focus on other tasks.

In December 2004, a study by the Virginia Transportation Research Council showed a reduction in vehicle crashes at nearly all of the red light surveillance intersections. Also, in a 2002 California audit of red-light cameras, accidents caused by drivers running red lights decreased with the live traffic camera installation. Opponents of the red light traffic cameras contend that the cameras are chiefly used as a money-making device, they give too much control to the live camera company, and they cause rear-end collisions because a driver may stop too abruptly before a red light.

Recently in Northern Virginia, the red light traffic camera program ended after a ten-year run. The state legislature opted not to renew the live traffic program, which issued drivers with $50 fines sent through the mail. Roughly 75% of those drivers paid the fine. State Senator, Jeannemarie Davis says, "It's impossible to have enough police officers out to enforce red-light running. It clearly works. It clearly changes behavior."

Others might not agree. Many lawmakers from rural parts of Virginia voiced their concerns that the traffic cameras resembled "Big Brother" and that it was an expensive traffic program that did not recoup its costs. In fact, three of the six governments that implemented the surveillance program in Northern Virginia lots tens of thousands of dollars because the revenue did not cover the traffic program's costs.

Administrators in California are studying some of the red light traffic program's pitfalls that occurred in other Californian cities. For example, in San Diego a judge agreed that the live traffic company was given too much control, so a state law went into effect requiring live traffic camera companies to charge cities a flat rate, instead of a per-ticket commission. The law also requires that police officers review and approve the traffic citations. After San Diego's red-light traffic program was revised, drivers stopped complaining about the cameras.

In order for the driver citations to be fair and accurate, a clear photo of the driver must be captured, along with the license plate. If the photo doesn't match the owner of the vehicle, the driver should not be responsible for the ticket. Although most drivers can't argue against a photo showing them running a light, some drivers will give valid excuses that may cause the police to re-evaluate the photos. For example, one driver in Montclair, California told the police officer she couldn't see past a truck that turned in front of her on a double lane signal. The officer threw out her ticket.

The debate over the use of red light traffic cameras at intersections is far from over. Both sides have valid concerns that should be resolved with more study and research at cities where driver surveillance cameras are both showing positive and negative results.

About the Author
Alice Osborn is a successful freelance writer providing practical information and advice about CCTV security systems for business, non-profit and home use. Click here to visit Video-Surveillance-Guide.com.

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Respecting employee privacy rights in the workplace when using video surveillance

The loss of employee privacy rights in the workplace is a growing concern among employees, attorneys, and civil libertarian groups. Although employers in banks, telecommunications, securities exchange, in hi-tech industries, and in other workplaces justify using video surveillance in the workplace to monitor employee behavior to chiefly promote safety, improve productivity, and stop theft, protecting employee privacy must be a top concern. For if the courts find that the employer’s surveillance methods are less than fair, that firm may find itself knee-deep in lawsuits that could have been prevented.

Employers install hidden surveillance cameras for many good reasons (preventing theft, promoting productivity or protecting employees) that in some cases will intrude upon employee privacy. Legal observers and human resource specialists who study workplace privacy believe that employee privacy intrusions are more common than previously observed, and that they will increase every year.

According to a 2005 survey conducted by the American Management Association, more than half of the companies surveyed use video monitoring to prevent theft, violence and sabotage (51% in 2005 vs. 33% in 2001). In addition, the number of companies that use video surveillance to track employees’ performance has also increased, with 10% now videotaping selected job functions and 6% videotaping all employees. Among firms that use video surveillance, 85% notify employees.

As more and more employee groups become aware of how they are being watched, the more likely they will take their employers to court.

These are the four main types of court-upheld privacy violations that could occur in stores, factories and offices and the first type is directly related to video surveillance.
  • Intrusion upon seclusion which includes invading worker privacy in bathrooms and changing rooms
  • Publication of private employee matters
  • Disclosure of medical records
  • Appropriation of an employee’s likeness for commercial purposes
In addition, video surveillance must be limited to visual images and cannot include audio in order to comply with federal and state statutes.

Employers need to be proactive and aware of these four privacy violations so that their employees' individual rights are respected and protected.
How to achieve balance between monitoring and intruding upon employees

First, the employers need to clarify what privacy rights employees are guaranteed and what constitutes an invasion of privacy. Then, employees must be notified in writing that surveillance will be conducted and they should also sign a waiver verifying that they know they may be monitored.

Management must define what is acceptable supervision versus "snoopervision" and that includes not videotaping showers, restrooms, changing rooms, smoking areas, and employee lounges. These are places specifically for employees' personal comfort, health or for safeguarding their possessions. However, employers must also be sensitive against using video surveillance in other areas where employees might takes breaks.

Employers must be fully aware of the privacy risks associated with videotaping employees so that the likelihood of litigation is reduced. Companies should also nurture a workplace environment where employees can voice privacy or security concerns in confidence with management without feeling that their conversations are being monitored.

In short, if employers choose to use video surveillance in the workplace, they must adhere to written privacy guidelines that will keep employees secure and that will also respect their privacy.

About the Author
Alice Osborn is a successful freelance writer providing practical information and advice about CCTV security systems for business, non-profit and home use. Click here to visit Video-Surveillance-Guide.com.

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School bus surveillance helps schools manage transportation security

Due to increased school violence and parental concerns regarding bus driver behavior, school bus surveillance has become more prevalent. School officials throughout the nation are held accountable by parents to ensure student safety on the buses, and by using video surveillance this security can be assured.

School bus management has never been easy, but with today's terrorist threats and gang violence, installing video surveillance cameras on school buses is the next logical step. Many school districts use multi-channel DVR's (digital video recorder) that can record multiple camera views both inside and outside the bus's entrance and exit. These cameras also have audio, GPS location capabilities, and can give real-time information regarding the bus's speed, braking, and safety signal activation.

The DVR can start recording automatically in the case of an incident because there are impact sensors, which date and time stamp the images. The buses also have panic buttons, so that when the driver hits that button, a market is placed on that recording, making the incident easy to find. The one to four visible cameras also can record audio, which is seen as a privacy intrusion by parents, students, attorneys and civil libertarian groups.

In fact, a class action suit was lodged against the Twin Valley, Pennsylvania school district for using a video surveillance system that recorded the student's conversations on the school bus. Claiming the suit under Pennsylvania's Wire Tapping and Electronic Surveillance Act and Title III of 1968, the claimants stated that the school district used the video surveillance footage to discipline the students, which violated their privacy rights. However, the claimants lost their case because the students did not have an expectation of privacy.

Since the cameras are not hidden, students should know that they are being recorded. Video surveillance as a preventative measure on school buses has been shown to enhance the management of problem behavior on the buses, and the immediate video feedback helps school administrators confront the individuals involved soon after incidents occur. The video surveillance systems also provide liability protection in case there is legal action against the driver.

Video surveillance systems are a long-term investment for school districts that must be periodically maintained and adjusted. If they are used properly, a surveillance system can promote student safety, prevent discipline problems, and deter vandalism.

About the Author
Alice Osborn is a successful freelance writer providing practical information and advice about CCTV security systems for business, non-profit and home use. Click here to visit Video-Surveillance-Guide.com.

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Surveillance Camera Positioning

It is a known fact that advertising is made to attract our eyes. Marketers work very hard to plant visual memories in your mind. They use anomaly phrases, rhetorical questions, sexy images and ironic text. There are many reasons why this is done but the biggest reason is that it works. Our eyes are often caught and our brains captured for a moment while we digest the advertisement. Since the advertising world has done such a good job in making us look and think, there is a slight hesitation in our gaze and direction of sight. This of course is the worlds best time to snap a shot or grab an image of a human on a surveillance camera.

One of the best methods of insuring that images are captured is to place them behind power advertising promotional signs. So often surveillance cameras are put up on corners of buildings or on ceilings. We saw after the 7-7 London Transit Bombings images of perpetrators used by police investigators to track down the other links of suspects and perhaps even prevent future attacks. As we study the human eye gaze innate characteristics and the time of visual recognition, we see that some images take the mind-eye visual registration a second extra. This is enough time to catch a really good image of each passerby for use in face recognition software to use for searching databases of "Watch List" humans who are most apt to be problematic to our civilization.

Often if a person of ill intentions is casing a location, doing a dry run or preparing for an evil act, they will avoid cameras when they see them. One concept is to put up cameras in plain view, which are dummy cameras or decoy cameras. When someone avoids them, they will look away causing an anomaly or someone who has something to hide. Then as they look away, we would be wise to hide a hidden camera in a somewhat shocking advertisement, behind a glass or plastic encased ad. As the person looks away, he or she is hooked on for a second longer on the image. Bingo, we got the image even if they attempted to avoid every camera in the place. This would work in Stadiums, Shopping Malls, Board Walks and Airports. Think on this.

About the Author
Alice Osborn is a successful freelance writer providing practical information and advice about CCTV security systems for business, non-profit and home use. Click here to visit Video-Surveillance-Guide.com.

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Traffic surveillance cameras speed up traffic and keep roads safe

Traffic surveillance cameras smooth out traffic congestion that leads to costly and deadly accidents. Since 1997, the Utah Department of Transportation has used analog CCTV cameras to help emergency response teams, give drivers real-time road updates, and gather data on traffic snarls and patterns.

Collectively, this network of live traffic cameras is called the ATMS (Advanced Traffic Management System) and it was first implemented during the 1996 Atlanta Summer Olympic Games. Now, Utah's traffic surveillance system will go digital making real-time accident and incident recovery that much faster on the new cameras. Though the new video surveillance system is almost twice as expensive as the older system, the new one will last longer and can be repaired more easily.

The digital cameras relate road condition information to dispatchers who inform drivers via Utah's 69 message signs that the road is closed, wet, or that there's an accident up ahead. Utah's Department of Transportation also interprets the camera data to evaluate and reprogram traffic signal lights in real-time to improve traffic flow in the case of football games or severe weather. The message boards also inform drivers of Amber alerts and construction road detours. The cameras are also linked to a web site ("Know Before You Go") that lets Internet users prepare for their drive before getting into their car.

In Atlanta, eight surveillance cameras were installed in Midtown as part of the first phase of a larger video surveillance program. The cameras are linked by a secure Nextel communications system that allows operators to quicken emergency response time to crime and accident scenes.

What about privacy issues?

Chapters of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) show concern for the prevalence of these traffic cameras. Although they concede that these cameras are in public places, they assert that police officers and transportation officials need to be properly trained when using these cameras so that the images are used properly. The ACLU points out that these cameras could capture gay parades and protest rallies, and the subjects on those videos could theoretically find themselves blackmailed. They suggest that state legislatures need to write clear procedural guidelines and legislation that addresses the how's and why's of using video surveillance, as well as the privacy issues of the subjects' likenesses when they are captured on video.

It is possible to achieve a balance between maintained public and transportation safety, while preserving citizens' privacy rights. In this age of terrorism, video surveillance won't be disappearing since it is necessary to promote and preserve safety for the greater good.

About the Author
Alice Osborn is a successful freelance writer providing practical information and advice about CCTV security systems for business, non-profit and home use. Click here to visit Video-Surveillance-Guide.com.

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Video surveillance cameras in schools

Public schools have been equipped with video surveillance CCTV systems even before Columbine. The reasons include increased safety and security for students.

Installing video surveillance cameras in schools is a costly project, and school districts must be sure that this is the right route to deter theft, property damage, and to prevent outsiders from entering the schools property. Even though most school districts that have implemented video surveillance systems have faced privacy concerns from parents, students and civil libertarian groups, school officials assert that cameras curb crime and are important sources of physical evidence when crimes do occur.

Why should schools use video surveillance?

Before secondary and middle school officials install video surveillance systems to prevent vandalism, gang activity, fights, trespassing or theft, they must sit down and conduct a thorough inventory of their needs and security concerns.

Important first questions to ask include:
  • What security threats will the new cameras address?
  • How will the surveillance equipment address those threats?
  • How will the system be maintained and staffed
After this step is completed, school officials must weigh the benefits and costs of their decision. Most school districts agree that installing video surveillance equipment will help students focus on their studies and not make them worry about outside violence. The security systems run from $500,000 per district for an analog system consisting of CCTV (closed circuit television) monitors to million-dollar IP-based systems with digital surveillance cameras connected to a web network. The systems cameras are generally placed near entrances, hallways, stairwells, common areas and parking lots that are monitored 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Said Principal JK Johnson of Orange High School in Orange County, California who had 27 cameras installed, "If it cuts down the vandalism I think it would be a wise expenditure. It's another set of eyes out there to help keep the school safe if something were to happen."
  • Provides school officials with information and evidence that's not otherwise available.
  • The cameras deter crime and may lead some students to confess to infractions that weren't even caught on the security cameras.
  • The cameras allow school security personnel to do more job-specific work, which saves money in the long run since the mundane tasks will be performed by the security system.
  • Money is also saved from insurance premiums by the reduced burglaries and vandalism.
However, costs remain and these must be faced with each security system installation:
  • The initial set-up costs, plus maintenance and personnel costs may be too large for the school district.
  • Privacy rights must be considered: no audio tracks should ever be recorded, and the cameras should not be placed inside of the school buildings. Civil libertarian advocates must be assured that the system will fairly monitor students and not become intrusive.
If the school districts do agree to purchase video surveillance systems for their schools, they need to conduct adequate research and planning in order to make the new system constructive and beneficial for the students. And once the security systems are installed, school officials should evaluate their effectiveness at set times and adapt to future security challenges and students' needs.

About the Author
Alice Osborn is a successful freelance writer providing practical information and advice about CCTV security systems for business, non-profit and home use. Click here to visit Video-Surveillance-Guide.com.

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Get a good face shot!

Use Higher quality cameras at entry areas Doors, gates and other entry areas need a good quality, high resolution camera to record a good 'face shot.' The video from this camera should be considered a highly valuable since it can be used as evidence in identifying a person in a court of law.

Wide Angle Cameras for large surveillance areas

Once you can get a good shot of a person’s face, you should use a wider angle camera lens for the interior surveillance spaces of the building. Using color cameras inside your building is a good idea because you can readily identify a person by the clothes they are wearing. Used in conjunction with the face shot at the entry point, you have an excellent record of all people and activities in your surveillance areas.

Use Bullet Security Cams and Dome Security Cams!

They're Low Cost, High Performance, can be uses indoors and outdoors and available in Color or B&W. Dome cams and bullet cams come in many low cost models. Good quality B/W cams start at less than $110 and good color cams start at $200. When it comes to budgets, having a low cost black and white camera is better than no camera at all.

Black and white cameras have advantages over color security cameras

Most B/W cameras can see in lower light and have higher resolution than color cameras. If most of your surveillance goals are at night and your budget is limited, a black and white camera may actually be your best solution.

Professional and Standard C-Mount Cameras

If your budget permits, a c-mount camera offer a big advantage over other cctv cameras.

C-Mount or CS-Mount?

C-mount and CS-Mount lenses offer similar performance; the only real difference is the way the lens mounts to the camera. And that's not a problem since the adapter to convert 'C-Mount' to 'CS-Mount' comes with the camera. This enables the camera to use either C-Mount or CS-Mount lenses.

Lenses can be changed!

They simply unscrew from the camera body, just like the way lenses are removed from traditional cameras. There are lens options from 2.5mm up to 500mm providing many different magnification options.

In general, an 8mm lens is like a 4mm lens magnified 200%. A 16mm lens is like the 4mm lens magnified 400%

Outdoor Housing

C-mount cameras can be used outside when put in a outdoor camera housing like the photo to the right needed to protect the camera. Heat and Fans are necessary in the 'extreme climate areas.' See our outdoor housings.

Varifocal Lenses

You can also use a Varifocal lens on a c-mount camera body. The higher the millimeter of the lens the further distance viewable. C-Mount cameras can use a Varifocal lens. This is a huge advantage because you can adjust zoom and focus. With Varifocal lenses the focus can be varied from 5mm to 20mm or more.

Even after installed, the Varifocal camera lens can be adjusted to choose a variety of focal distances and angles of view. An example of where you might use a Varifocal lens is outside (or inside) a warehouse or parking lot where you need more distance than 35 feet.

Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ)

Pan-Tilt-Zoom Cameras also known as PTZ cameras are excellent devices to use when you want to 'look around' your surveillance area.

PTZ cameras allow you to pan an entire room, tilt up and down and zoom in on anything or anybody within the sight of the lens.

PTZ cameras can be set to automatic or manual mode or both. In automatic mode, hundreds of points can be set for the camera to look at. The duration that the camera looks at a given set point can be adjusted from less than a second to as long as you would like.

There are some variances in different models. Some have 17x zooms while others have 50x zooms or more.

Closed circuit television also known as CCTV is the industry standard in surveillance security cameras. CCTV can be a single network of cameras or multiple networks of camera linked together via switches, internet, DVR or wide area computer technology. CCTV Video data is analog. The analog signal can be converted to digital via CCTV Digital Video Recorders. Once the video data is digital it can be managed just like any other computer data and can be stored automatically on computers and network storage devices.

About the Author
John Beagle is a technology writer for Xponex Web and Media Services.

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Fast Food Video for the Ultimate Employee Protection

Robberies are far less frequent when video cameras are in conspicuous places and proper signage is displayed on entry doors and walls. Once a potential robber or thief sees that your place is under surveillance, they don't try anything.

CCTV DVR Security Cameras Systems also called Digital Video Recording Systems are now widely found in fast food restaurants! They offer many features, are easy to install and could save you and your employees lives.

Not only does a DVR Security Camera system catch bad patrons, some employees get caught stealing too. Often there are employee terminations after a security camera system is put in place. "We got robbed just after we installed the Camera Security system", explains John Bower who owns 2 Dominos Pizza restaurants in Harrisburg, PA. "The picture was so good and getting it to the police was so easy, they caught the guy!."

"Making sure that people can see that there really are cameras in the restaurant is very important. Plus I have cameras pointing to every cash drawer", said Emad Hamdan of who owns multiple restaurant franchises including Gold Star Chili.

Another recommendation is to use color security cameras instead of black and white for your typical fast food restaurant dining room and restaurant storage areas. Using color cameras inside your restaurant is better because people will be more identifiable by the color of clothes they are wearing.

Color cameras, used in conjunction with the face shot at the entry point, provide you a record of people and activities in the key areas of your restaurant.

Minimum Recommendation: 4 Security Camera System for Fast Food Restaurants

This system is very easy to install, you can do-it-yourself (DIY)

A surveillance system is becoming a necessity rather than a luxury for the restaurant industry. Here are some ideas for the use of a security camera video surveillance system in a fast food business:

  1. Indoor Video camera records all customer faces and actions
  2. Outdoor Camera can record cars (colors, make and model)
  3. Video records all of your cash handling transactions
  4. Video shows you how long the line is at peak times to help with scheduling staff
  5. Video keeps eye on all exits and entrances to the building
  6. Video can show who vandalized your landscaping
  7. Video of your dumpster yields many surprises
  8. All Video is viewable from remote locations with internet connection
Video surveillance in fast food restaurants is on the rise for good reasons! Video surveillance is saving money, protecting employees, catching bad guys and deterring crime.

About the Author
John Beagle is a technology writer for Xponex Web and Media Services.

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