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CONTACT ATA

Give us a call at: 281-480-9847 or toll free at: 877-480-9846.

For alternate ways to contact ATA, click ATA CONTACT WEB PAGE

TESTING


ATA has built a reputation in the area of special circumstance testing. We have the facilities, resources and experience to plan, format, build and execute any manner of highly unique and individualized special testing scenarios. We have performed testing in a truly wide variety of disciplines, including trucking, automotive, motorcycle, ATV, marine, occupational industrial, products and plenty more!



To gain further insight into ATA's experience and forensic capabilities, check out these narrated TESTING CASE STUDIES.

Check out these ATA NEWSLETTER ARTICLES concerning testing and analysis.

View the following TESTING PLAYLIST to review ATA's many and varied testing capabilities:

Visit our facilities web page to review our truly versatile ATA TECHNOLOGY CENTER.

We have always taken great pride in our ability to conduct testing in which our staff have had to build apparatus "from the ground up",in order to effectively demonstrate the elements and/or forces that impacted a given incident.

Click ATA - INGENUITY IN TESTING to review some examples of ATA's originality and inventiveness that set us apart from the crowd:

ACCIDENT RECONSTRUCTION / BACK TO BASICS



BACK TO BASICS WITH ATA

ATA Associates recognizes the need to do an accident investigation utilizing the proper scientific methodology combined with a cost effective process that can provide an accurate reconstruction of an accident if and when it is required. We call this process,"BACK TO BASICS". Accident related information and evidence, such as accident site marks, vehicles, and electronic data can disappear quickly. Lost or incomplete data can complicate the ability to evaluate and accurately reconstruct an accident. This can lead to issues if litigation of the event occurs at a later time.


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View this BACK TO BASICS PLAYLIST to gain further insight on the best ways to approach various elements of an accident investigation:

The following video outlines the actions that shoul be taken in the immediate aftermath of an incident:


Download or print this handy checklist for your own future use:

"BACK TO THE BASICS" EVIDENCE PRESERVATION CHECKLIST

TRUCKING


Trucking accident reconstruction, as well as heavy trucking systems and safety issues have long been a primary focus for ATA. For a comprehensive description of our activities and involvement in the trucking industry, visit our ATA TRUCKING & AUTOMOTIVE SERVICES WEB PAGE.



To gain further insight into ATA's experience and forensic capabilities, check out these narrated TRUCKING CASE STUDIES.



Check out these ATA NEWSLETTER ARTICLES on trucking.

Below is a collection of TRUCKING TESTING VIDEOS:


Below is a collection of ATA produced 3D ANIMATIONS featuring trucking incidents:


Also, visit ATA's DRIVER SAFETY TRAINING WEB PAGE to review the variety of training videos that ATA staff have produced. These videos are a product of over four decades of involvement in the trucking industry.

AUTOMOTIVE


ATA's concentration on automotive accident investigation, automotive accident reconstruction, and automotive testing and analysis are second only to our heavy trucking activity. Our staff is highly experienced in reconstructing and analyzing all of types of automotive accident combinations, whether involved with heavy trucks, other automobiles, pedestrians, or in single vehicle accidents.

For a comprehensive description of our activities and involvement in the automotive arena, visit our ATA TRUCKING & AUTOMOTIVE SERVICES WEB PAGE.



To gain further insight into ATA's experience and forensic capabilities, check out these narrated AUTOMOTIVE CASE STUDIES.



Check out these ATA NEWSLETTER ARTICLES on automotive issues.

VEHICLE DATA DOWNLOAD - ECM / CDR


Retrieving data from vehicle Crash Data Recorders (CDR) was once a highly specialized and difficult process. It still requires training and expertise to successfully retrieve data without corrupting it. We can retrieve data from vehicle on board computers to include crash data. ATA has the sophisticated equipment and expertise to recover the available data in any vehicle configured for On-Board Diagnostic capability. In fact, we are one of a few firms that consistently keeps up with the myriad of system and equipment updates that are so prevalent in this industry.

Check out ATA'S GUIDE TO ECM DATA AVAILIBILITY.

Also, as a reference, print or download this CDR VEHICLE COVERAGE LIST.


THE ATA ADVANTAGE - OVER 20 YEARS EXPERIENCE AND VERSATILITY

ATA technicians have, on several occasions, been able to recover vehicle data when others could not. ATA specialists have expertise in recovering air bag deployment data (Black Box), and in retrieving data even if the vehicle's power system and wiring are damaged. In addition to CDR equipment for automotive downloads ATA can interrogate and record system diagnostic data using MasterTech vehicle diagnostics. Both MasterTech and CDR diagnostics and downloads are provided as services to our clients for litigation as well as non-litigation use.

Read these informative pieces:
Factory Diagnostic Tools for Computers on Wheels
Tractor ECM Downloads - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly



ASK THE EXPERT - ECM Download FAQ's:

What is an ECM and what does an ECM do?
The ECM (Electronic Control Module) is a computerized device “black box” mounted on the engine.
The main purpose for the Electronic Control Module is to optimize fuel efficiency and vehicle life.
It receives input from various sensors on the vehicle such as fuel use, speed, engine rpm, oil level.

Who can extract the Data from the ECM?
An authorized truck/engine dealer can extract data from their own products but these technicians are not usually sensitive to the issues of litigation and may not have their software set to prevent data from being erased. Our engineers are trained to address issues related to litigation and accident reconstruction.

How can this information help my case?
“Bonus information” such as vehicle speed, braking status, clutch, etc. at the time of the accident may or may not be recorded. Data is stored in a buffer and is continuously overwritten old to new.
Information is stored permanently for later retrieval based on initialized settings. If the settings are not initialized, then nothing gets recorded. For example, Detroit Diesel’s settings are default “ON” while CAT’s settings are default “OFF.”
In some cases, the data may be the headline news. Because each manufacturer stores data differently, the data does not always provide a clear answer.
In all cases, having the data answers the question: “Was due care and diligence in preserving potential evidence followed?”

How long does it take to extract and process the information?
If the engine is relatively undamaged and there is power, the data extraction takes roughly half hour. If the truck has suffered extensive front end damage or the electrical system is compromised, the best practice is to remove the ECM from the truck. This process may take 10 minutes to several hours depending on the damage.

If the ECM is removed from the engine will my data be spoiled?
Yes, unless the ECM is plugged into an exemplar truck with the same set up as the accident truck, or unless the ECM is plugged into sensor emulators.

Can I move the truck?
A Qualified Yes. If the truck absolutely has to be moved, then make sure that it is driven slowly (under 10 mph in the case of a Detroit Diesel engine Series 60), with no sudden braking. If the vehicle is towed to a yard, the download can still be performed months later; however, some data, such as monthly history will be lost over time.



Check out these ATA NEWSLETTER ARTICLES on data download:

CDR - The Technology of Crash Data Retrieval - an overview
Event Data Recorders - What type of data is stored on EDRs?
DDEC in Accident Reconstruction - A discussion of Detroit Diesel ECM data
Secrets Revealed - GM Recorded Automotive Crash Event Data
CDR Recap and Update - Changes in data types and government actions

BOATING / MARINE / MARITIME


Bob Swint, the founder and CEO of ATA began his consulting and accident reconstruction career in the pleasure boating arena. He went on to become one of the leading experts in the country in pleasure boat and watercraft accident reconstruction. Amongst the wide range of forensic disciplines that ATA has been involved with, boating accident investigation as well as PWC testing have always been major areas of focus.

We have also done work on larger scale maritime / heavy shipping cases, as well as cases involving the nearby Houston Ship Channel. For some examples of our background in these areas, visit our
ATA MARITIME SERVICES WEB PAGE .



To gain further insight into ATA's experience and forensic capabilities, check out these narrated BOATING / MARINE CASE STUDIES

Review this VIDEO PLAYLIST of ATA's marine activities, highlighting our versatile testing capabilities and high level forensic 3D graphic animations.

Read a selection of articles from the ATA NEWSLETTER concerning marine reconstruction issues.

Check out this MARINE ANIMATION COMPILATION:

Watch this ATA PRODUCED BOATING SAFETY VIDEO:

HUMAN FACTORS


Human factors is one of the most critical and far-reaching forensic disciplines there is. Human factors are involved in nearly every incident ATA comes across.

Check out these Human Factors Case Studies to get an appreciation for ATA's background in this forensic discipline.

Additionally, the case studies and ATA capabilities videos on this link are focused on Visibility Problems at Night.

The study of human factors involves topics such as expectancy, human body motion, judgement of speed and distance, perception reaction, visibility problems and anthropometrics.


Below are videos developed by our staff that describe each of these human factors "subdivisions", supported by examples of ATA casework:



Human Factors - Expectancy



Human Factors - Perception Response



Human Factors - Judgement of Speed & Distance



Human Factors - Visibility Problems at Night



Human Factors - Human Body motion



Human Factors - Anthropometrics


Check out these Human Factors Case Studies to get an appreciation for ATA's background in this forensic discipline.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY AND PRODUCTS TESTING

We at ATA do much more than investigate vehicular accidents. Over the years, there has been a natural evolution to become involved in the investigation and analysis of product or systems component related incidents, as well as developing a focus in the study of product safety.

Check out these Products & Products Testing Case Studies to get an appreciation for ATA's background in this forensic discipline.



ATA's engineering and technical staff experts provide clients with in-depth analysis based on product information from CPSC, UL, ASTM, ANSI and manufacturers product information. Additionally, we perform testing where it is warranted in order to verify condition, composition and operation.


Check out this VIDEO PLAYLIST, for a more comprehensive sampling of ATA's product testing capabilities:




You will not find a better test, inspection and reconstruction support facility. The 15,000 square foot ATA Technology Center is equipped with an overhead crane and vehicle lift, electrical, shop air, exceptional lighting and a full array of tools and equipment, including a fully appointed fabrication shop. This facility provides a clean, safe, secure, environmentally controlled work space.

The engineering and analysis lab is equipped to perform computer analyses, electrical component testing, limited small-scale flammability and fluids testing and instrumentation procedures. A sampling of resources includes:
- An environmental hood for safely conducting small scale tests on chemicals and flammables.
- Power supplies, oscilloscopes, waveform generators and general purpose electrical test equipment.
- Laboratory microscope for detailed examination of parts.
- An extensive collection of ECM/CDR data retrieval tools and software for nearly all vehicle models.
- Mitchell OnDemand - computerized vehicle repair information systems.

In the course of performing advanced testing over the last forty years, ATA has developed an ongoing relationship with the Houston Stuntmen’s Association, a local resource that boasts a highly skilled group of professional stunt persons that have extensive experience in a variety of venues.

Recent tests include minivan rear door structural loading, failure testing of glass containers, spring rate measurement and testing, hydraulic pump relief valve performance, SUV rollover tests, fuel pump failure mode tests and analysis, air bladder failure testing,stick-steer boat rate-of-turn tests and characterization of water heater thermostat operating parameters in optimal and sub-optimal conditions.

PETROCHEMICAL


The Petrochemical industry continually experiences a variety of events including chemical spills, fires, explosions, personal injury or even death. The severity of such events in combination with the size and complexity of petrochemical facilities can make accident investigation extremely difficult. Thus, investigations need to be initiated quickly and expertly to ensure the effective collection of evidence and data.

Check out this PETROCHEMICAL VIDEO PLAYLIST, showcasing 3D graphic animations that ATA staff have produced.

ATA has assembled a petrochemical accident investigation team to provide a broad range of expertise that meets the specific requirements of each incident. We use state-of-the-art technology to analyze and interpret complex technical issues supported by our resources of consultant expertise.

ATA provides expert knowledge and litigation support services and our graphics department can develop effective demonstrative aids, including working scale models and 3-D graphic animation, to provide a complete accident reconstruction package.

OCCUPATIONAL INDUSTRIAL


ATA Associates has a long history of safety consulting, analysis and accident reconstruction support to industrial clients as well as litigation professionals.

Check out these Occupational Industrial Case Studies to get an appreciation for ATA's background in this forensic discipline.


Our experts include career professional OSHA Compliance Officers, engineers and safety professionals with expertise in machine guarding, noise, lighting, forklift operations, overhead cranes and materials handling. We also maintain proficiency in confined space entry, fire protection issues, safety program management, safety training requirements and corporate safety program responsibilities.

Check out this OCCUPATIONAL INDUSTRIAL VIDEO PLAYLIST, showcasing our experiences in this discipline.

AMUSEMENTS INDUSTRY

ATA has been involved in amusement industry accident reconstruction, park ride testing, park ride safety and analysis for over twenty years. We also lend our expertise in testing, instrumentation, inspection and analysis to support proactive amusement park safety programs across the USA. We have the capability to collect up to 30 channels of simultaneous strain, force, pressure, temperature and acceleration data as well as digital still and video images. In addition, our graphics staff can create outstanding 3-D graphic animations, enabling ATA to correctly diagnose and analyze amusement park accidents.



Our amusement industry support staff, showing their commitment to the improvement of amusement park safety, is also involved in the standards development processes for the industry through participation in ASTM F-24 committees. We have also done extensive waterslide testing and analysis.




Read ATA NEWSLETTER ARTICLES about issues in the amusements industry.

RAILROAD / LIGHT RAIL

ATA has performed railroad accident reconstruction and has been closely involved with the railroad industry for over 40 years. We have not only concerned ourselves with railroad accident investigation and railroad accident analysis, but have also been involved in the study of railroad safety issues, and how improvements can be made to this critical area of public interest.

ATA has extensive background in rail-grade crossing accident investigation and in issues concerning Section 130 of the Highway Safety Act. We have also developed a strong relationship with the "Operation Lifesaver" program to assist in accident prevention efforts.

Check out these ATA produced RAILROADING VIDEOS AND ANIMATIONS.

Also, review these ATA NEWLETTER ARTICLES on the rail industry.




"When The Train Wins"



FORENSIC PHOTOGRAPHY / NIGHTTIME PHOTOGRAPHY

ATA knows the value of quality photographic images. Poor photos can hurt your project as much as good photos can help it. ATA puts the latest equipment in the hands of trained professional photographers to produce clear, concise photos, which can be the focal point of a case or investigation.



To gain further insight into ATA's experience and forensic capabilities, check out these narrated PHOTOGRAPHY & VIDEOGRAPHY CASE STUDIES - featuring our nighttime capabilities

Our photographers specialize in:
- Close-up (macro) photography
- Precision night photographs as well as night video images
- Photogrammetry
- Photo documentation
- Stop-action photography
- Forensic documentation
- Medium and small format film
- Digital format

Additionally, we can perform technical and demonstrative photography geared towards the purposes of forensic and litigation analyses, or concerning whatever application you may require.

Whether they are close-ups, night photographs or stop action; in conventional film or the latest digital formats; ATA’s photographic professionals have the experience and expertise to capture the quality images you need and expect for your project.

***DOWNLOAD ATA'S ACCIDENT SCENE PHOTOGRAPH SHOT LIST***

***DOWNLOAD ATA'S GUIDE - NIGHTTIME VIDEO & PHOTOGRAPHIC TECHNIQUES***




Night Imaging Capabilities


Retroflective Tape in Nighttime Photography and Testing


Case Samples of Nighttimt Testing and Photography

FARO 3D SCANNING & REALITY ANIMATION


Since the beginning of 2012, ATA Associates has been utilizing one of the latest models of the FARO 3D scanner in creating truly life-like vehicle and site images to assist us in our forensic investigations.



To gain further insight into ATA's experience and forensic capabilities, check out these narrated FARO IMAGERY/REALITY ANIMATION CASE STUDIES.

One of the advantages in using the 3D scanner is that one person can capture a large, heavily damaged object with a high degree of accuracy in a relatively small time frame. Using photos would place limitations on how large an area one could view with any particular image, and you would be restricted to only the views that the photographer used. Developing a 3D model from photographs would be quite difficult and time consuming and the modeler would never be able to reproduce all the damage patterns accurately. The output from the 3D scanner allows you to view an object from any angle at any scale and every nuance of the complicated damage patterns are recreated digitally.

For a sampling - Check out these 3D images developed during case work we have performed using this technology.

FARO Reality Forensic Animations:
ATA utilizes the 3D animation software program FARO Reality. It is the latest version of this comprehensive, easy-to-use 3 dimensional forensic animation package that quickly and effectively generates crash scenarios.

Here is a Reality Software Animation Playlist our staff has developed.

USE OF SURVEILLANCE VIDEO IN FORENSIC ENGINEERING

It is no longer uncommon to find accidents that have been captured on surveillance video cameras. In fact, we find ourselves utilizing surveillance footage, occasionally from multip[le vantage points, more and more. We study surveillance video to help answer reconstruction questions about the speed, time, distance travelled or path of a vehicle leading up to and during an incident. Just as the contexts of various accidents differ; the information that we can derive from surveillance videos differ.


To gain further insight into ATA's experience and forensic capabilities, check out these narrated SURVEILLANCE VIDEO CASE STUDIES.


For the purpose of answering the questions above, the usefulness of the video varies greatly on the video system installed. A time stamp is usually embedded within each frame of the video. In order to determine vehicle speed, it is first necessary to know the frame rate (speed at which the video camera is recording the scene).

Video cameras operate at 30 frames per second but that may not be the rate at which the video is recorded to an electronic file. Businesses often have more than one camera at their facility so it is necessary to have a master program to control the cameras. A software program and a bus (mechanism to communicate between the cameras and software) is in charge of recording. The company may, for example, have camera #1 record to the file at five frames per second while camera #2 is sending its information at 15 frames per second. Perhaps they have camera #3 sending information only when it is triggered to do so (such as when a gate opens or closes).

Complicating that is that the frame rate may not be constant throughout the recording. The reason is that the data from each camera is sent to the controlling computer via a BUS communication system which transfers data between components. Because the information from each camera cannot reach the computer at exactly the same time, there are delays which can cause drops in the frame rate for a particular camera.

Once all of this is understood, frame-by-frame analysis of the objects of interest in the video are carefully examined. Location of fixed objects such as poles or building edges helps with determining distances traveled within a number of frames of video. If no such reference exists, sometimes it is possible, depending on the angle of view, to place an artificial vertical line in the video at the front axle of the vehicle of interest, then count the number of frames until the rear axle crosses that fixed artificial vertical line. Knowing the wheelbase of the vehicle and the frame rate, then the speed of the vehicle can be estimated to a reasonable degree.



ATA supported a successful trial verdict regarding an 18-wheeler accused of making a side turn at an intersection at which a motorcycle traveling well in excess of the speed limit tried unsuccessfully to pass on the right.

The defense involved using multiple surveillance videos to position vehicles and determine the speed of numerous vehicles through the accident sequence. The sequence coordination of non-time stamped surveillance videos was at the heart of the technical approach to the reconstruction in combination with witness testimony and physical evidence collected from the accident scene. Animation and graphic case exhibits put all of the facts of the incident together for the jury’s consideration. The selected video frame grabs shown below represent part of the sequence analysis.




The video above shows the work we did overlaying surveillance video from the day of an incident with video we shot during testing sessions which established the entrance path of an 18-wheeler during said incident.

We were establishing the path of entry of the rig versus the path of the underriding vehicle, i.e., did the driver have an open lane to attempt passing the rig, or was he riding the shoulder in an unsafe manner?




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This incident began when an open-bow fishing boat, known as a “panga”, was spotted near the island by a Coast Guard aircraft on a routine nighttime patrol. An inflatable boat with a crew of four was deployed from the Coast Guard Cutter Halibut to investigate. Video recorded by a forward looking infrared (FLIR) system on the aircraft shows that as the inflatable approached the stationary panga, the panga abruptly accelerated and turned to port. In the collision that followed, the bow of the 30-foot Mexican craft rode up on the smaller Coast Guard vessel.

ATA's work in preparing the reconstruction of this incident included an examination of the FLIR video and eye-witness accounts of the collision, physical inspections of the panga and the Coast Guard inflatable, in-water performance testing of the panga and a nighttime visit to the collision site to witness visibility at the site under lighting conditions similar to those at the time of the collision.

The surveillance aircraft's FLIR video was a major component in reconstructing the event, though interpretation of the video proved to be a challenge. Progressive movement of the aircraft during the recording, panning of the FLIR camera by its operator, who had no foreknowledge of what he was about to witness, and foreshortening of the camera's view created by a separation distance of almost four nautical miles between the aircraft and the collision scene made quantifying distances between the two boats difficult.

Observations of distinctive features of Santa Cruz Island's shoreline, seen in the background of the FLIR video image, provided the best means for determining distances between the boats when the locations of those shoreline features were considered in the context of data provided by the FLIR system on the camera’s location and its pointing direction. Clarity of the video was also enhanced by ATA's novel deconstruction of the video into its constituent frames and the subsequent reanimation of those frames after they were reoriented in relation to prominent, fixed island landmarks.

USE OF GPS IN FORENSIC ENGINEERING

The expanded availability of satellite-based global positioning system (GPS) technology has opened new windows on the measurement and depiction of vehicle motion and location in dynamic situations. The staff at ATA have been finding the use of GPS to have some sort of utility in the bulk of our casework.



To gain further insight into ATA's experience and forensic capabilities, check out these narrated GPS CASE STUDIES.




Driver Behavior as it Relates to Vehicle Performance

GPS equipment has been used to track 18-wheelers operating on highways and city streets in various traffic situations. The GPS location data provided a new, geographic context for the novel interpretation of typical vehicle performance data such as fuel consumption. This contextual interpretation allowed instances of both high and low fuel consumption that were recognized after-the-fact in the test records to be traced back to specific locations and traffic situations. Analysis of the truck driver’s responses in those situations led to an improved understanding of specific driver habits which lead to either enhanced or diminished fuel economy.


An Introduction to GPS

Since 2005, ATA has also made use of GPS technology on several occasions to profile arched bridges, causeways and overpasses where line of sight issues might have influenced driver behavior in accident scenarios. The collection of three dimensional GPS location data from a vehicle moving over a long or acutely arched bridge provides a practical means for collecting critical elevation data that could be prohibitively expensive or unreasonably dangerous to collect by more conventional surveying methods.

Read this interesting article wriiten by ATA staff on the influence of GPS:
GPS Data - Windfall or Worrisome in Accident Reconstruction

The use of GPS data has also sproven to be integral in the investigation of marine cases in tracking boat paths during the course of various incidents.

ATA's Reconstruction of Boating Case Leads to Settlement

GPS in Boating Accident Reconstruction at ATA

Ski Tube Testing with GPS

V-BOX TECHNOLOGY





To gain further insight into ATA's experience and forensic capabilities, check out these narrated VBOX CASE STUDIES.



ATA Associates, Inc. has recently acquired a Video VBOX made by RACELOGIC. The unit, which has a wide following in the motorsports community, integrates a global positioning system (GPS) location measurement capability and four independent video cameras. The new device promises to streamline ATA’s already considerable vehicle testing capabilities by promptly providing motion test data automatically synchronized with test video without any of the typically time consuming post-test data and video processing required.


Though designed and marketed primarily as a tool for racecar testing and driver performance monitoring, ATA anticipates other uses for the Video VBOX including boat testing, drive-through surveys of accident scenes and vertical profiling of bridges and roadways in cases where line-of-site issues may be involved in accident reconstruction.

One of ATA's first tests of the Video VBOX was the collection of a vertical profile of the Kemah Bridge, near ATA’s offices, which compared favorably with other profiles of that bridge previously collected by ATA’s other GPS systems. In the recent bridge test, the Video VBOX was tested head-to-head against a Raven Phoenix 200 GPS receiver, ATA’s GPS profiling tool of choice to date.

Separate from its GPS and inertial motion sensing capabilities, the small size of the Video VBOX’s four lipstick-sized cameras suggest new and interesting possibilities for inspection tasks where synchronized video records from as many as four relatively inaccessible, small interior locations inside a vehicle or other machine might be instructive.

On this case, we used VBox software to gather multiple data fields concerning the dynamics of the above UTV on the path it had taken during an incident. The incident occurred on this very site and resulted in the occupants suffering ejection from the vehicle, resulting in severe injuries.

Below are some sample data charts that were derived using this software:




SAFETY TRAINING AND CONSULTING

A direct result of ATA's experience with accident investigation, accident reconstruction and testing, is our knowledge, expertise and concerns with safety issues across a broad scope, vehicle/ transportation, - both commercial and recreational, product liability, testing, workplace incidents, and others. Having done extensive work in so many areas has put ATA in a position to have plenty of real world exposure to identifying the causes of accidents, systems failures and performance limitations.



Check out these ATA produced SAFETY TRAINING PROGRAMS.

Combining our background with the talents of our Graphics and Multimedia Productions Department, ATA can create a high quality safety training program for your company or organization.