Five Themes from connect:ID 2019

Originally co-founded just six short years ago by the International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA) and Science Media Partners, connect:ID aimed to create the world’s preeminent identity technology conference and exposition. This year’s show proves that connect:ID still has mass appeal!

The connect:ID 2019 event, held from April 29 to May 1 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., brought together more than 1,500 attendees and 150 speakers from government, commercial and technical arenas to discuss a wide variety of topics related to identity and related technologies used for recognition, authentication, customer experience, and digital transformation.

A number of overarching themes and topics emerged this year, and I’ve decided to outline the top five or so that I observed.

  1. Collaboration at the federal level was apparent. A fireside chat hosted by IBIA Executive Director Tovah LaDier with two senior program leaders from within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – John Wagner from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Stacey Fitzmaurice from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – outlined how they are using facial recognition to create a secure, seamless and consistent experience for travelers moving through our country’s ports of entry and exit. CBP operates the Traveler Verification Service (TVS), a database used to match and authenticate travelers’ facial images as they enter or exit the country, to which TSA will have access for future expansion of facial recognition at security lines for expedited screening. CBP’s Wagner now reports having caught more than 100 imposters attempting to illegally enter the country at U.S. land and air borders. And why shouldn’t TSA have access to this technology that is already proving itself so valuable?
  2. Sensor fusion is the future of customer experience. In his keynote address, NEC Vice President of Technology and Solutions Kris Ranganath discussed the combination of IoT, AI and analytics technologies that will come together to enable digital transformation and create seamless, reliable, more enjoyable, yet still solidly secure customer experiences as we move between two worlds – the cyber realm and the physical realm. This concept of sensor fusion already exists in certain cutting-edge retail and entertainment use case examples, and Mr. Ranganath expects we’ll only see more of this in the future.
  3. Customer journeys are a key theme for driving innovation for international travel and border protection. The vision for this experience is to create a seamless or contactless journey from reservation to destination. Mr. Wagner from CBP referenced in more than one instance the importance of a frictionless traveler journey in solving the border security issue. In a panel on the future of seamless travel, I outlined several customer journeys related to border entry – via air, land and sea – all enabled by facial recognition and sensor fusion. These journeys are not just a dream, they’re becoming reality. Mr. Wagner at one point in the fireside chat posited that someday kiosks may become unnecessary for Global Entry.
  4. Personal data privacy was discussed in more than one session. Nobody disagrees that privacy is paramount, and more than one multi-disciplinary panel of experts at connect:ID agreed. However, how we achieve it at a policy level is still up for broad discussion and debate. In the government panel titled “Perspectives on Privacy: The Rashomon Effect,” panelists including NEC’s Director of Government Relations Brent Bombach offered varying takes on the issue. Our take and hope is that federal legislation will eventually create a consistent regulatory environment so that travelers can move safely and seamlessly through their journeys without fear of their personal data being stolen.  So, as NEC Corporation CEO Takashi Niino previously wrote, NEC will always favor legislation that both protects personal privacy and allows for innovation in the public and commercial sectors. But a variety of state laws currently on the books or in varying stages of proposal promise to ensure a complex regulatory environment where biometrics and data privacy is concerned. Furthermore, a panel of congressional staffers on the main stage seemed to conclude that a federal preemption, or federal legislation that would render state privacy laws related to biometrics moot or unnecessary, is not likely to succeed in 2019.
  5. Innovation was on full display across the connect:ID 2019 expo floor. I’d like to be able to say that it was all in NEC’s booth. Evidence of innovation was actually scattered all across the expo floor. My favorite, however, is a solution based on NEC’s own research and development in optical networks. Intelligent Perimeter Intrusion Detection (iPIDS) works to detect physical border and facility breaches through the use of highly adaptive and responsive fiber-optic sensing and self-modifying machine learning based artificial intelligence. Deployed along a border or around a secure facility, iPIDS can not only tell when something is there, it uses AI to understand the location and source of the vibrations. Deployed as part of a sensor fusion network, iPIDS is one more way that people can feel safe and secure as they go about their daily journeys.

NEC was proud, as always to participate in this year’s connect:ID, and we certainly look forward to the 2020 event and to see where the industry will be in less than a year’s time.

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Hyperconverged Infrastructure: Datacenter Management Made Easy

Datacenters host the most sophisticated and essential business processes, but are often inefficient and expensive to manage. Made up of storage, servers and networking, IT staff with highly specialized expertise spends much of its time troubleshooting to keep these systems available at all times. Meanwhile, new technology is purchased and integrated into current and legacy systems, creating more complexity and an overwhelmed staff.

Imagine a simple and unified way to merge cloud-like agility and cloud-like costs with the security and reliability of on-premises solutions. NEC’s HyperConverged Infrastructure (HCI), powered by Scale Computing, delivers a more manageable solution in a single appliance, a “datacenter in a box.”

A turnkey solution that offers storage, servers, networking and virtualization, HCI is not a new idea and more than 46% of organizations are planning to purchase by 2020. Read further to understand the complexities of traditional datacenters and how a Hyperconverged Infrastructure addresses these and minimizes the costs.

Complexities of Traditional Datacenters

Disparate Systems are Difficult to Manage

Many factors lead to the purchase of disparate systems in a datacenter, including new IT trends, business-critical applications, virtualization and cloud. With so many specialized systems, IT staff must be skilled and trained on the particulars of managing each system. These separate systems, each with its own server, storage, networking and management requirements, create IT silos and cost more to manage.

Scalability is Inefficient

When a business-critical application or the public cloud requires more storage, the organization may not have a clear picture of current datacenter assets available for use. Purchasing more servers or more storage, without regard for space or current capacity, is inefficient and adds to the complexity in the datacenter environment.

Innovation is Nearly Impossible

If the IT staff is spending most of their day trying to rectify errors, learn the specific elements of managing many different systems and install service updates, they will have little time to create new business solutions. Being proactive is nearly impossible with a staff who is in continual react and repair mode.

Downtime is Expensive

In 2014, Gartner estimated that the average cost of network downtime was $5,600/minute. Increased human involvement in managing a complex environment, especially with specialized infrastructure, also increases the risk of downtime. If a business-critical application is unavailable for an hour, the cost to the organization could be in the millions.

How HCI Solves Datacenter Complexity

Hyperconverged Infrastructure integrates hardware and software into one system. By consolidating and streamlining IT processes, HCI brings the hardware into one rack and one virtualized system that is managed on a single screen. With a single management interface, HCI makes troubleshooting simple and easy, allowing your IT staff to be more proactive and productive.

By creating a more unified and simplified environment, adding capacity to existing infrastructure is seamless, without disruption to any running workloads. Different models and capacities can be used together, in many different combinations, to scale out resources more efficiently.

HCI is more stable, offering redundancy and higher availability than traditional virtualization solutions. NEC also offers the option of Disaster Recovery as a Service, building in advanced security and reliability and virtually eliminating both planned and unplanned downtime.

About NEC’s HyperConverged Infrastructure Solution

As another addition to our Smart Enterprise portfolio, NEC’s HCI runs on NEC’s Express 5800/D120h high-density, dual socket modular server that can host 4 nodes in a single chassis. NEC has also partnered with Scale Computing, a hyperconverged infrastructure company, to power the complete virtualization solution with their HC3 software. This cost-effective single appliance is designed for rapid deployment, ease-of-use, seamless scaling and high performance.

NEC’s HCI solution comes preconfigured and preinstalled from the factory for easy integration into the current datacenter environment. Creating a unified and simplified system, the “datacenter in a box” operates as a redundant and elastic “private cloud,” reducing both complexity and cost.

The initial investment in NEC’s HCI solution is lower than other industry providers because our solution includes all the software, hardware and support at a single price. By eliminating expensive virtualization software licensing fees, organizations can quickly realize the value of NEC’s HCI solution and lower their IT costs.

Make certain you keep up with ever-evolving technology while improving your IT processes! Download our eBook, “Keep Calm and Unify Your IT,” to learn more about HCI. If you would like to speak with an NEC Solutions Expert, please contact us today.

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Casting a Wider Net to Help Solve Criminal Cases

Face Recognition Aids Investigators

Video and photographs provide valuable evidence when law enforcement officials conduct criminal investigations. Originating from a wide range of sources—and with varying quality—video or photographic images are sometimes the only evidence in a criminal case. Investigators will spend countless hours trying to identify an unknown suspect from the images.

For the first time, multiple agencies can share mugshot databases with each other using NEC’s powerful #1 NIST-ranked facial recognition algorithm, the industry’s fastest and most accurate face-matching algorithm. NeoFace® WideNet is a hosted service that benefits law enforcement personnel with expedited criminal investigations and faster crime solving by processing photographic images and video evidence.

This service saves law enforcement valuable time with the ability to search multiple databases rather than a single source when matching images, resulting in reduced caseloads as well. Accessible from any web browser, NeoFace WideNet enhances poor quality latent face images, searches against large mugshot and video repositories, and provides easy-to-assess ranked suspect candidate lists.

Putting a Powerful Tool in the Hands of Law Enforcement

Quicker processing of evidence combined with the ability to rapidly generate a list of actionable leads gives investigators an advantage in cases involving facial video evidence. NeoFace WideNet can process images from either still images or video streams.

The strength of NEC’s facial recognition solutions rests in a tolerance of poor quality, highly compressed surveillance videos and photographic images. The service offers several standard and advanced enhancements to correct difficult-to-match images. It turns previously unusable facial images into hard evidence with enhancements such as pose correction, consolidation of images and improved illumination. With the capability to match low-resolution facial images down to 24 pixels between the eyes, NEC’s facial recognition technology outperforms other face recognition systems in matching accuracy.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) matching algorithm recognition benchmarks have consistently proven that NEC’s biometric technologies have the fastest and most accurate face and fingerprint recognition algorithm and have the most resilient facial recognition technologies to viewing low angles, low-resolution images and poor image quality.

You don’t need the perfect imageto identify a suspect.

Affordable Technology for a Wide Range of Agencies

NeoFace WideNet is designed to be highly scalable as well as affordable, suitable for small, medium and large law enforcement agencies. Through a licensing agreement, authorized agency users can deploy any HTML 5 compatible web browser to access the NeoFace Reveal application. By changing the purchase model from CAPEX to OPEX through a hosted service and lowering acquisition costs, agencies can see an immediate return on investment through decreased investigation time and reduced workloads.

World-leading Identification Matching Technology

Independent testing confirms that NEC’s facial recognition technology provides the fastest, most accurate matching capability and the most resistant to variants in, race and pose angle. Quickly and accurately processing video images expedites criminal investigations and leads to more crimes being solved. More than 30 years ago, AFIS revolutionized fingerprint evidence. Today, NeoFace WideNet is poised to doing the same with photo and video evidence.

To learn more, check out our new eBook below, Turn Your Images Into Evidence.

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Create the Perfect Cloud Solution for your Organization

Cloud computing used to be the “wave of the future” but now small businesses and large enterprises alike are realizing the benefits. Instead of replacing aging infrastructure or making large purchases as the business grows, cloud services allows scalability and availability at a lower operating cost. Small businesses enjoy enterprise grade features and mobility with the use of cloud computing, allowing them to do more with less cost, less maintenance and a smaller staff. Large enterprises can grow exponentially, deploying large systems on a scalable platform that’s available when needed.

A cloud solution allows organizations to revolutionize how they deploy business applications, communicate and store data with greater flexibility and scale. Businesses that have previously managed their own infrastructure may be hesitant to subscribe to a public cloud model. A private cloud or a hybrid solution, may be a good alternative for those businesses looking to maintain control over security and expenses while offering the latest technologies.

Built on our award-winning IT infrastructure, NEC offers flexible solutions for organizations considering a private, trusted cloud or hybrid cloud solution.

Communicate Better with Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)

UCaaS, or Unified Communications as a Service, offers tools for businesses seeking to move communications, messaging, chat, video collaboration, contact centers and more into the cloud. UCaaS is customizable, allowing organizations of any size to scale up or down, depending on seasonal demand, so that businesses are only paying for what they’re using. Lower up-front costs, minimal maintenance and extensive mobility allows your IT staff to be proactive and efficient, anywhere and at any time.

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services delivers dynamic flexible UCaaS options, using public, private or a hybrid cloud, and can also leverage your current on-premises PBX investment. NEC’s cloud-based communications and collaboration solutions brings value and, if needed, improves upon the existing IT infrastructure.

UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE

Straight out-of-the-box, UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE delivers hybrid cloud communications for businesses wanting the ease and cost-effectiveness of a cloud solution while still maintaining an on-premises system. Reliable and secure, the SV9100 BLUE provides unified communications and mobility applications with a minimal investment.

Hosted Telephony

NEC’s hosted telephony solution reduces the need for in-house maintenance by a telephony support team. Free up space in the data center and management costs for scalable features such as call recording, automated attendant, mobility and call transfers from a landline to a cell or a computer.

UNIVERGE BLUE SIP Trunking

Route calls over an IP network instead of traditional phone lines with NEC’s SIP Trunking. For businesses with multiple offices, SIP Trunking turns voice into an application, creating the appearance of a single location without the cost of extensive infrastructure.

UNIVERGE BLUE Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS)

Capitalize on customer interactions and let them engage with you on their terms, from anywhere, at any time by providing multiple avenues of communication through social media, SMS, webchat and more with NEC’s CCaaS. Customers speak to a real person, specifically selected to meet their needs through skills-based routing, while allowing high-priority clients to skip to the front of the line. Additionally, NEC’s CCaaS provides metrics and workforce management solutions to improve the effectiveness of your customer service team.

UNIVERGE BLUE Team Collaboration

Improve company-wide communication and collaboration with NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Team Collaboration. Enabling users to participate in private one-to-one, group, or company-wide conversations. Communications are streamlined and can follow users to whatever device they are using at the time.

Unified Threat Management

NEC’s Unified Threat Management monitors and manages threats between the local network and the local gateway. The appliance connects to the cloud for up-to-the-minute virus definition updates and can also be used for keyword filtering, URL filtering and notifications when a threat is detected.

UNIVERGE BLUE Video Collaboration

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Video Collaboration delivers a reliable video hosting solution for businesses. Powered by Vidyo, this scalable communications solution offers 4K quality, multi-party conferencing, crystal clear picture and sound from any device and location at an affordable price.

Backup as a Service (BaaS)

In a sobering 2018 statistic, 60% of companies that lose their data will shut down within six months of the disaster. As cloud environments grow, the need to securely back up and manage data that is delivered in the cloud and not cloud-delivered has also grown. Considering the threat of natural disasters, power outages, cyberattacks and man-made errors, NEC offers powerful Backup as a Service (BaaS) solutions to mitigate the risk of data loss and save businesses money on the investment of backup infrastructure.

Built on NEC’s award-winning distributed grid storage platform, HYDRAstor®, placed in highly regulated, compliant and secure IronMountain® datacenters and using industry-leading Commvault® backup software, BaaS delivers powerful performance and security. Whether backing up between datacenters on site, straight to the cloud or in virtual or physical environments, organizations can expect cost-effective managed backup 7x24x365, advanced encryption, compliance and easy scalability.

NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Cloud Services allows your organization to grow and deliver a reliable and secure experience with minimal investment. Customize the solution that’s perfect for your organization. Contact an NEC Solutions Expert to learn more.

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Power Meets Innovation –
Dr. Angela Merkel Visits NEC

German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel, Forbes magazine’s “Most Powerful Woman in the World” eight years running and a driving force behind Europe’s alternative energy reform, visited NEC Corporation in Tokyo this month. Her purpose was to learn firsthand about NEC’s vision for the future in our newly established co-creation space called the “NEC Future Creation Hub.”

Dr. Angela Merkel introduced to advanced technologiesOn February 5, NEC Chairman Dr. Nobuhiro Endo was honored, along with several other NEC executives and employees, to welcome Dr. Merkel as she was introduced the latest advanced technologies, including AI and biometric identification solutions.

The Chancellor exchanged dialogue with members of NEC about the balance of technological innovation with legal regulations, privacy protection, human rights and ethics as digitization and the use of data continue making advancements among society and people.

Click here to learn more about Dr. Merkel’s visit.