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The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) recently announced its latest commitment to being a sustainability leader in Hong Kong by launching a renewable energy project that will include the installation of up to 8,000 solar panels at over 50 locations on campus. Upon completion, this will be Hong Kong’s largest solar energy generation project when complete.

Photo: HKUST will install up to 8,000 solar panels at over 50 campus locations. Source: HKUST, Press Release

The system will generate up to 3 million units (kWh) of electricity each year – equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of more than 900 three-member households in Hong Kong, and reduce 1.5 million kg of carbon emission per annum over 25 years.

By joining CLP’s Renewable Energy Feed-in Tariff (FiT) Scheme, the project will generate around $160 million up to the end of the FiT Scheme in 2033. After paying off the costs of the installation, HKUST will receive an average of $4 million per year that will be reinvested in further campus energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction projects.

Part of the system will also be dedicated as a living laboratory for the University’s faculty and students to test out their ideas and projects related to solar energy systems. The first phase of construction began last month and the project will continue through 2021.

This project was developed under the University’s sustainability strategic plan, the HKUST 2020 Sustainability Challenge set in 2016, where the university has been identifying large scale initiatives to reduce energy, greenhouse gases, and waste. Taking the opportunity of the FiT Scheme – which encourages the community to develop distributed renewable energy systems – HKUST will install thousands of best-in-class and highly-efficient monocrystalline solar panels, including both the conventional and flexible thin-film PV panels.

HKUST will be working with one of the most experienced solar power project developers in Hong Kong to install the solar PV systems at more than 50 campus locations, including student and staff residences, academic and research blocks as well as sports and transport complexes.

To increase HKUST members’ environmental awareness and their understanding of renewable energy and sustainable development, HKUST will set up an innovative education centre to showcase different types of solar panels and other new technologies such as insulation coating and solar cells. Dashboards will also be accessible by mobile phones to show real-time energy data generated across the campus.

The centre will also serve as a platform to engage HKUST members for interaction and collaboration.  For instance, project teams of the Sustainable Smart Campus as a Living Lab (SSC) – an initiative launched by the University in 2019 for HKUST members to try out their smart and innovative ideas on campus – can make use of the centre as well as the solar panel system to undertake research.

The Secretary for the Environment stated that HKUST’s large scale solar energy generation system is well-recognised and serves as an excellent model. The project not only supports Hong Kong’s transition towards a low-carbon society but also attempts to integrate research and education on environmental innovation and technology in a meaningful way.

HKUST has distinguished itself as an inspiring exemplar to the younger generation, he added. Hong Kong is committed to implementing the Hong Kong’s Climate Action Plan 2030+ and exploring the long-term deep decarbonisation strategy.

The official noted that he looks forward to seeing HKUST proactively take up the leading role of climate action and further demonstrate stronger support for clean energy, green building and energy-saving, waste reduction and more.

The latest solution by a firm within the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.

Solution description

The platform, called DragOnce, allows both IT and non-IT users to digitise their processes, including workflows, without coding, and it supports both web or mobile apps. In addition, the company provides implementation services which can help the Government to digitise the processes in a rapidly using the DragOnce platform.

The platform allows users of different roles to streamline the business approval process, control records access permission control, set scheduling jobs, notifications, reminders, upload or download files, pre-defined tailor-made reports or charts, etc. It supports better controlling for Government staff to manage internal processes at scale. The deployment supports both cloud or on-premises use. The solution’s existing clients consist of several governmental agencies including OGCIO, HKPC, Cyberport, HK Electric, HKUST and more.

Application Areas

The solution was developed to applied in the areas of Broadcasting, City Management, Climate and Weather, Commerce and Industry, Development, Education, Employment and Labour, Environment, Finance, Food, Health, Housing, Law and Security, Population, Recreation and Culture, Social Welfare as well as Transport.

Technologies Used

The solution uses the latest in Cloud Computing, Internet of Things (IoT), Mobile Technologies and no-coding platform/HPaPaaS.

Use cases

Public Sector Use Case 1:

The firm helped digitise over 100 forms in 3 months instead of one year by coding. The e-forms and processes are maintained by the organisation’s staff. After being deployed with the DragOnce platform, the IT team can easily digitise all paper forms with an agile methodology and consolidates all forms in a unified platform. A unified platform allows organisations to centralise all forms into one single data source, lowering the data integrity problem caused by the manual error.

Since there is no one-size-fits-all solution in terms of a single org chart structure for every enterprise, the DragOnce platform is designed to handle any structure of org chart and allows administrators to set permission controls on each level of user. With the permission controls, organisations can easily control the data accessibility on all end-users and ensure data security. This costs between HK$500,000 to HK$1.3 million.

Public Sector Use Case 2

The firm in need approached the tech company seeking an internal procurement system that could emancipate them from the manual purchasing process (excel spreadsheets, email, phone calls, sign-on print-out papers, etc). The system needed to be able to handle vendor management, quotation requests, purchase requests, purchase orders, approval processing, delivery schedule checks, purchase invoice checking and inventory management.

The platform developed by the tech firm met these requirements and allows for multiple-level approval, permission controls on end-users and dynamic workflows. After implementation, the system speeds up processes three times and allows users to easily monitor the status of procurement processes and vendor management. The cost is between HK$500,000 to HK$1.3 million.

Private Sector Use Case 3: Electric Utility Company

This electric utility company requires massive amounts of workflow data to be handled daily business processes. Thanks to the effort of the firm’s IT Team, the workflow request from the employees can be managed, but still, there are plenty of IT application requests from various Business Units and it is time-consuming to get through the traditional Software Development Life Cycle to deploy one application.

The company needs a solution to lower the workload for the IT team. DragOnce offers end-user computing solutions to them. This company needs a no-code platform to tackle the problem of numerous workflow requests on IT.

With a no-code platform, all employees can build their internal mobile applications easily without spending lots of developing time and no programming language is required.

End-user computing empowers the companys’ employees. When everyone, even non-IT employees, can build their application with few clicks, the IT team can finally focus more on critical projects. This not only results in higher productivity of the IT team but also encourages innovation in the company. All employees can now make use of their innovative ideas to build their own systems based on their understanding of the business flow. Thanks to end-user computing, the system created is 100% suitable for the end-users. The cost is between HK$500,00 to HK$1.3 million.

Thailand’s largest mobile operator by subscribers has partnered with U-tapao airport to support digital infrastructure for a 5G network, WiFi 6 and other tech solutions in a bid to turn it into a smart airport. U-tapao airport is located in the Eastern Economic Corridor, one of the government’s strategic priorities under the Thailand 4.0 policy.

The Chief Executive of the telecom stated that 5G tech deployment and digital solutions could be a way to shore up the economy in the wake of the pandemic. The digital infrastructure, 5G tech and WiFi 6 are expected to support new digital solutions. WiFi6 and the 5G network are already deployed at terminal 2.

The telecom has been trusted to jointly develop digital solutions for terminal 2 since September 2018 to improve service and management at the facility. The company worked on applications, video analytics, computer systems and communication systems to enhance the service capability at the airport. The cooperation will also touch on strengthening airport management and improving the customer experience.

The new digital services that have been ushered in to enhance the airport’s capabilities cover six categories.

  • The first concerns smart video analytics solutions, aimed at enhancing the terminal management system with intelligent video image analysis and processing technology.
  • The second is the Thailand Smart Airport application, which allows passengers to access aviation service and airport information in one app. Travelers can download the app through Apple’s App Store and the Google Play store.
  • The third is thermal scan technology, which should improve the measurement of passengers’ temperatures. The system is connected to the airport’s security management.
  • The fourth is robots developed by the telecom Robotic Lab research team that can screen passengers’ temperatures.
  • The fifth concerns the 5G network that will help increase passenger and public services within the airport and support the roll-out of new services.
  • The sixth feature involves WiFi6 technology, the latest WiFi standard with the fastest speed.

The General Manager Vice Adm stated that the airport handles 2-2.3 million passengers a year with 17 airlines en route for the facility. The U-tapao airport and Eastern Airport City Development project is of strategic importance to the government and the project’s investment includes other commercial services.

Recently OpenGov Asia reported that the Thai government is teaming up with another telecommunication juggernaut to bring 5G networking and services as a part of the nation’s ‘smart airport’ initiative, starting with Krabi airport as a pilot project. The National Broadcasting and Telecommunication Commission (NBTC) and the Department of Airports (DOA) have signed a 5G Smart Airport MoU for technical cooperation and services.

Under the terms of the MoU, 5G technology solutions will be developed and applied to Krabi airport first, before expanding to the 28 other airports overseen by the DoA throughout the country. Additionally, the Thai subsidiary of the telecom is also in line to sign another MoU to provide free 5G tech support, solutions, and equipment that is worth 10 million baht (approximately US$322,800) to enable the smart airport project.

The NBTC Secretary-General stated that the installation of 5G infrastructure is expected to “start within a month”. The telecom will provide additional innovations and services at the airport for free to ensure passengers’ safety in the new normal era after the Covid-19 outbreak, such as robots that can detect passenger density in airport areas, thermal scanners, and UV treatment equipment for passengers’ luggage.

Union Minister for Finance & Corporate Affairs, Nirmala Sitharaman, recently inaugurated the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) Online Dashboard.

The National Infrastructure Pipeline is designed to strengthen the vision of an Aatma Nirbhar Bharat (a Self-reliant India). The India Investment Grid (IIG) is an interactive and dynamic online platform that showcases the best investment opportunities in India to the global investor community.

The online dashboard is seen as a one-stop solution for stakeholders looking for information on infrastructure projects in India. Hosted on the India Investment Grid (IIG), the dashboard will provide necessary and updated information on infrastructure projects in India that are open for investment.

Having infrastructure projects available on IIG will ensure easy accessibility to updated project information and attract investors for PPP projects. This dashboard is a major step in fully implementing the National Infrastructure Pipeline – giving a tech boost to infrastructure development in the country.

Developed and managed by Invest India, the National Investment Promotion and Facilitation Agency, IIG serves as the gateway to investments in India, and is also widely used by Indian missions and embassies across the world. IIG allows investors to

  • Search a pan-India database for investment opportunities across sectors
  • Track the progress of preferred projects and indicate interest
  • Directly communicate with project promoters
  • NIP covers both economic and social infrastructure projects- based on the updated Harmonized Master List of Infrastructure.

The National Infrastructure Pipeline is a first-of-its-kind initiative to provide world-class infrastructure across the country and improve the quality of life for all citizens.

It will improve project preparation, attract investments, both domestic and foreign, in Indian infrastructure projects. This will be crucial for attaining the target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by FY 2025.

In the 2019-2020 budget, there was an outlay of Rs 100 lakh Crore (US$ 1,335 billion) for infrastructure projects over the next 5 years aimed at improving the living standards and providing new job opportunities. More recently, a high-level Task Force submitted a final report on the National Infrastructure Pipeline with projected infrastructure investment of Rs 111 Lakh Crore (US$ 1500 billion) during the period 2020-25.

The NIP project database under Volume III of the Final Report of the NIP Task Force is made available on IIG in order to provide access to updated project level information for investments across infrastructure sectors.

The Digital platform will provide greater visibility to projects and also achieve the mandate of the NIP to market the projects in an efficient manner. The NIP project database hosted on India Investment Grid (IIG) would provide visibility to the NIP and help in financing with prospective investors to access updated project level information.

In addition, it is also a monitoring and evaluation tool to be used by the concerned ministries / departments and DEA to monitor the implementation and actual progress vis-à-vis initial estimates of the NIP for each and every project. All concerned department/ministries have been tasked to immediately upload the status of projects on NIP portal and keep it updated in real time.

An incubatee at the Hong Kong Smart Government Innovation Lab recently announced that their latest solution is now ready to be acquired by companies and institutions.

Solution description

With the development and general application of Video Analytics Technology, smart parking solutions are not bound only to License Plate Recognition and Ticketless functions anymore.

The following systems and features of the solution are also designed by the company to cater to the growing needs of its clients, deriving from the application of Video Analytics Technology:

  1. Auto-Classification of Vehicle Type for fee-calculation or restriction: the solution can detect the car type, brand and model for different rate structures. It eliminates the need for a separate ticket unit for lorries and is especially suitable for car parks with loading bays and private car bays.
  2. Dynamic Rate Structure on Bay Location: Different rates can be applied for bays at different locations via video monitoring cameras. Drivers, who are willing to pay more or are in a rush, can park at bays with better locations at higher rates. Thus, bay allocations can be more efficiently managed.
  3. Bay-Counting function for Motorcycles: Motorcyclists can be informed of the floors with the most spaces on entry. Until recently, this function was, technically, almost unachievable with just sensors for detection in the past.
  4. Outdoor Parking Space Monitoring/Counting: This feature helps achieve the function of Bay Guidance for outdoor car parks. It is much more cost-effective than installing a sensor on every single bay for detection.
  5. Loading Bay Barrier-less Monitoring and Charging Function: this feature helps to overcome the general pain point of installing a barrier system for a loading bay for rate calculation and payment.
  6. Smart Bay Guidance Signage for EV Cars: EV Cars can be directed to the nearest and available bays with EV chargers, highly reducing congestion issues in car parks as well as enhancing user experiences and convenience.
  7. Mobile Parking Fee Payment via License Plate or Octopus Number: The issues of insufficient remaining values for Octopus Cards at the exit are reduced. This greatly eases the issue of queues at the exit. Vehicles with no outstanding payment can be allowed to leave by detection of the License Plate.

The service pledges for this solution include:

  1. 98% or above for License Plate Recognition Accuracy Rate
  2. Provisions of two LPR/Video Cameras per lane at different locations
  3. Expertise in camera location selection
  4. Provision of progressive training on OCR engine and Deep Learning capability
  5. Provision of high-quality preventive maintenance service to the system

Application Areas

The solution can be applied across the areas of City Management, Development, Population and Transport.

Technologies Used

Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cloud Computing, Deep Learning, Internet of Things (IoT), Mobile Technologies and Video Analytics are the technologies employed in the solution.

Use Case

Benefits of the solution include:

  1. Higher throughput rate for car parks
  2. Less congestion and queue at entrances and exits
  3. Effective and fair allocation of car park spaces for public
  4. Greater automation enables for more efficient management of manpower
  5. All-rounded Car Park Management Level
  6. Allows remote control of multiple car parks at a centralized location
  7. Higher public experience and convenience levels
  8. Integration with other Smart Solutions
  9. Data generation for further analysis of service improvement
  10. More environmentally friendly with fewer requirements on mechanical devices and cables
  11. Suitable for environments with different conditions
  12. In-line development with market trend

In recent years, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in Hong Kong have adopted the concept of TimeBank to promote mutual help among elderly people and to encourage them to make good use of their free time.

By providing volunteering services, elderly people can earn and save time credit in exchange for services later such as escorts, household repairs, grocery delivery, etc. However, due to the lack of appropriate IT support, NGOs are burdened with the task of handling the related clerical work, such as data input and matching service recipients with volunteers.

Thus, a team of scholars at the Department of Computer Science at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) has developed a new system, namely “HINCare” (Heterogeneous Information Network for Elderly-Care Helper Recommendation), which helps to manage the workload and logistics. The system can also store useful statistics and help NGOs formulate long-term strategies and identify the needs of elderly people through data analytics.

By matching service requests with volunteers in the community intelligently, the system stretches elderly people’s potential in serving the community and helps them develop mutual help and support networks. It also facilitates the development and expansion of Time Bank community projects. The system came out of the lead Professor’s two recent projects supported by the Research Grants Council (RGC)’s General Research Fund (GRF).

The Professor stated that the implementation of the Time Bank project encourages mutual help and support relationship-building in the community. However, NGOs are much burdened by the amount of clerical work in maintaining the system. The HINCare system involves a gigantic heterogeneous information network (HIN) which gathers big data such as social networks and profiles of senior citizens at elderly centres run by NGOs.

Real-time transaction of the service time credit in an NGO’s Time Bank system is recorded automatically without the need for any manual input. This saves a lot of time and clerical work. Furthermore, the large amount of data in services provided can be used intelligently by the system to recommend potential full-time/part-time/voluntary helpers to NGOs.

The HINCare system comprises a web portal of an NGO’s backend administration and a mobile application for elderly clients and volunteers. The Time Bank system can also be extended to support the administration of healthcare vouchers and social service vouchers through further adaptation, hence enabling elderly people to have access to information on various medical and social services, make service bookings or payments through the enhanced one-stop mobile app.

NGOs will be able to track and understand from the system’s backend web portal the various medical and social services used and required by the elderly, the frequency of volunteer engagement, the participation level of community activities, etc. These statistics and information can allow NGOs to formulate better elderly services policy and evaluate if follow-up services for particular individuals are needed.

The team is now partnering with Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Tseung Kwan O Aged Care Complex (SKHTKOACC) and Christian Family Service Centre (CFSC) Elderly Service Sections in implementing the project.

SKHTKOACC is a pioneer in the Time Bank project and has launched a “Weaving of Wellness – Seniors Mutual Help Development Project” – a 3-year project in Tseung Kwan O. The Service Director of SKHTKOACC stated that the app can facilitate service matching and reduce clerical work. The complex intends to implement the project in more housing estates in the area. In the long run, it can help society rethink its elderly service policy and resource allocation.

The mobile app was launched since January 2020 and has now over 800 users who have issued 1,500 service requests, including accompanying services, transportation assistance (e.g., to hospitals), and participation in group events, etc.

The Ministry of Agriculture’s Indonesia Quarantine Full Automation System (IQFAST) innovation from the Agricultural Quarantine Agency (Barantan) is to be the Top 45 Public Service Innovations in 2020 as announced by the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic (PANRB) online.

The Minister of Agriculture, Syahrul Yasin Limpo, had presented the Barantan’s application directly to the Sinovik independent jury. He was of the opinion that this initiative was at the forefront of public service innovation.

The Minister of Agriculture Syahrul Yasin Limpo appreciated the Ministry of Administrative and Bureaucratic Reform Ministry for organizing this competition as part of realizing an advanced Indonesia.

IQFAST made the coveted list after surpassing approximately 2,250 proposals from various ministries, institutions, BUMNs (state-owned enterprises) and BUMDs (provincially- or municipal-owned corporations) that entered and had passed the administrative selection stage and by an independent panel team.

Head of Barantan said the innovation was designed to be able to provide the widest possible opportunity for agripreneurs; providing information and inspiration for business and exports in agriculture.

The strategic position of Barantan is not only as a guardian for protecting agricultural resources but maintaining the smooth flow of goods at the port.  It encourages the export of agricultural commodities considering that barriers are now no longer tariff-related but more on health aspects, namely sanitary and phytosanitary requirements. As such, quarantine systems strengthen the agri-sector both domestically and in cooperation with partner countries.

IQFAST is a digital innovation within export services. The digitisation of quarantine operations is a strategic choice that ensures accuracy, acceleration of services and health insurance and safety of products.

IQFAST is a large quarantine information system used by all quarantine technical units throughout Indonesia. This system makes it possible to monitor the flow of agricultural commodity traffic in real-time. This system is the starting point for the future development of quarantine big data. The Barantan staff have made preparations for structuring the cyber-physical system in the industrial 4.0 era. There are four steps it does:

First, structuring data using the Cloud Data Archive. It allows data to be managed electronically in a secure, validated and controlled manner.

Second, the use of a Quarantine Blank Certificate in paperless and digitally verified operational activities with the hope of being realized in the near future.

Thirdly, the development of e-traceability audits. This traceability check can reduce the rejection of agricultural product commodities in export destination countries.

Lastly, empowering structuring IQFAST data analysis. This step is to support import control policies.

Currently, besides focusing on automating services for service users through PPK Online (request for online quarantine inspection), IQFAST is also developing information on agricultural commodity maps.

IMACE is expected to provide updated information regarding agricultural commodities which are currently on an upward trend, including areas of origin and potential export destination countries. This is expected to open up opportunities for agribusiness actors to increase export and investment opportunities.

Apart from IMACE, IQFAST is also developing and increasing electronic certificate cooperation with partner countries so that it guarantees the acceptance of export products.

They are also working on a smooth flow of goods, both imports and exports, as well as the development of priority routes. In this plan, IQFAST system will provide a special route for compliant service users. Such users will receive priority services in the form of no physical inspection so that goods can immediately leave the port.

Barantan was committed to maintaining public services and any challenges with IQFAST and/or other Barantan services could be conveyed through various options such as social media, email, technical service unit offices and aid centres.

Reliable, genuine and well-researched content and material have become critical during the pandemic.

The threat of COVID-19 apart, countries are confronted by another serious challenge – the widespread disinformation and misinformation about the pandemic.

As the general population relies on information from a wide range of sources, it is imperative to explain information, facts and developments in simple terms that non-technical people can understand.

This is exactly what a Department of Science and Technology-Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII) official shared recently.

Richard Burgos, DOST-STII Dir. said during the department’s virtual flag-raising ceremony, “Due to Covid-19, we learned to adapt and to fully embrace technology so that we, as an agency involved primarily in science communication, can continue to deliver science to more people and preserve their right to be informed, to be educated, to be inspired, to be engaged and to take action.”

The DOST-STII has played a proactive role in promoting the efforts and important contributions of Filipino scientists and researchers.

They have also sought to provide clarification and explanations so that Filipinos could understand the crisis better and respond appropriately.

Some of their initiatives include:

  1. Virtual Pressers and Digital Broadcasting

Virtual pressers have become the part of new normal and a crucial tool for the department to spread up-to-date information to the public.

Since April 30, 2020, the DOST-STII has been broadcasting the weekly online news program “DOST Report” every Friday at 4 p.m. on the DOSTv Facebook page.

Through the program, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña provides updates on the various efforts of the science department on research and development, technical services and consultancies.

The information institute organised special pressers for the launching of major programmes of DOST for repatriated overseas Filipino workers called the iFWD Program; OneStore.ph online platform with mobile app; and Handa Pilipinas, a disaster resiliency campaign.

Earlier in the years, a mobile application called “DOST: Science for the People” was launched on April 8, 2020 to provide news updates about the agency’s efforts against COVID-19, S&T innovations and development programs that address major socio-economic problems of the country.

  1. STARBOOKS: The first digital science library in a box

STARBOOKS, popularly referred to as the library-in-a-box, is an award-winning knowledge and learning resource of the Institute that provides students and teachers with greater access to the latest science, technology, and innovation (STI) information to supplement textbooks and other learning tools.

During the first semester, there were 320 STARBOOKS sites that were deployed all over the country, bringing the total to 4,800 since the program started in 2011.

Several partnerships have been formed by STARBOOKS with different organisations to promote STI. These include the Department of Education, Philippine Rice Research Institute, FlipSciene.ph, Unilab Foundation, TripplesPH, and Carl Balita Review Centre.

  1. Increasing DOST’s online presence through official Facebook pages

There has also been significant increase in visitors of two major Facebook pages of DOST.

For DOST-Philippines, its page followers increased by 195% August 2019 (7,541) to July 2020 (22,261).

For DOST-Science and Technology Information Institute, its page followers increased by 77% from August 2019 (26,300) to July 2020 (46,600).

  1. #ScienceJournoAko webinars

Since 2015, the DOST-STII visited different schools in the country to bring its #ScienceJournoAko writeshop, an advocacy program aimed at capacitating aspiring journalists and communicators to write compelling S&T stories.

Despite the prohibition in face-to-face training, the Institute brought this service digitally through a series of webinars.

The three webinars conducted by DOST-STII focused mainly on science blogging, harnessing the power of Twitter and Instagram, and popularizing science stories.

All three webinars have gathered more than 300 participants composed of senior high school and college students as well as elementary and high school teachers nationwide, and even from abroad.

  1. Gandingan Awards

The DOST: Science for the People, the broadcast platform of DOST-STII, that aired over PTV-4, recently won three recognitions from the Gandingan Awards of the College of Development Communication, University of the Philippines Los Baños:

  1. Most Development-Oriented Livelihood Program
  2. Most Development Oriented Feature Story for the episode “Bakery sa Jail” and
  3. the highest award Gandingan ng Kaunlaran: Most Development Oriented Radio/TV Station/Online Platform.

Burgos said. “The pandemic caught us by surprise but we quickly shifted to the new normal and became the channel for the world to feel the heartbeat, the vital signs of the DOST championing Science for the People. The winds of digital fate blew in our favor as our main sails, STARBOOKS, DOSTv, are digital native.”

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