NEC’s 30th AFIS Internet User Conference

Having been at NEC for the last five years, I can honestly say – what an exhilarating ride! We just celebrated the 30th anniversary of NEC’s AFIS Internet User Group conference, held this year at the Omni Atlanta CNN Center.

I wish to express my highest gratitude to the AFIS Internet Board, the organizers of this conference and for the special efforts and leadership of Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Atlanta Police Department, our host agencies.

The AFIS Internet Conference leads the way for the professional forensic community, and highlights the latest NEC developments that are impacting the law enforcement industry.  This year’s event drew our largest international attendance to-date, with attendees from Australia, Greece, Mexico, Bangladesh, Vietnam, China and Saudi Arabia.

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As expected, the event did not disappoint. Below are a few of my favorite take-away thoughts and ideas from AFIS 2016.

  1. Body language matters!  Word choices and how our body moves as we talk can tell people a lot about us. Our keynote speaker was Janine Driver, CEO of the Body Language Institute and a former trainer for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Janine’s talk helped me understand the impact that my non-verbal communication has on others’ perceptions of me. She also showed our audience a few cutting edge body language secrets to help us develop better relationships in both our work and personal lives.
  2. Georgia is a hotbed of law enforcement leadership and talent.  With this year’s event being in Atlanta, we had access to some fantastic talent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations.  We heard from Vernon Keenan, director of the GBI, who spoke about leadership in law enforcement and how to transition your career out of “survival” mode and into a strong position of leadership.  Mr. Keenan should know, as he has been promoted to every sworn rank in the agency since joining law enforcement in 1972.  We also learned the GBI has ties to the very roots of AFIS Internet, as we heard from Debra Brown, who retired from that agency in 2014.  She gave is an excellent history of AFIS Internet and certainly taught me things I didn’t know about this very special group of people.
  3. All hail the Federal Bureau of Investigations!  Rachel Pastorial from the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Systems division has probably forgotten more about the use of facial comparison technology than I will learn in a lifetime.  She provided us with a highly useful overview of the face comparison discipline, which should come in handy for many AFIS Internet members as they transition into additional biometrics disciplines outside of fingerprint and ten print identification.
  4. The greatness of The First 48. We had the absolute pleasure of hearing from John X. Kim, senior executive producer and co-creator of “The First 48,” who is also the brain behind a laundry list of popular real-life crime shows, such as “Crime Scenes Uncovered,” “Steven Segal Lawman,” “Dallas SWAT,” “Detroit SWAT,” and much more. “The First 48” is a highly acclaimed real-life homicide investigation series now in its 16th season on A&E.  Mr. Kim gave us the inside scoop on how that TV series came to be created, plus he provided some fascinating anecdotes about some of their most popular cases.

Of course, NEC also showcased its latest identification technologies, including our newest innovation, Multi-Modal Integrated Biometric Workstation (IBW), which is NEC’s latest MBIS platform.  Watch Kris Ranganath from NEC provide the newest advancements in ID technology in this video.

Also, one of the more popular attractions was the demo of SmartScan, our next-generation livescan solution launched earlier this year.  John Dowden, senior product manager for NEC’s biometrics business, wowed audiences with the capabilities of a livescan station designed with a sleek footprint, intuitive Windows 10 user interface and high-horsepower capabilities for a variety of applications both in-house and out in the field.

So that’s it – if you missed AFIS Internet this year in Atlanta, you missed out! Of course, you can catch a glimpse or relive the excitement by checking out our photo library.

 

2016 Annual AFIS Internet User Conference

2016 Annual AFIS Internet User Conference

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NEC SmartScan Propels Livescans Forward at IAI’s International Education Conference

In the world of biometrics and identity management, livescan technology is nothing new. First introduced in the early 1990s, the earliest livescans were used by law enforcement to electronically capture fingerprint and, later in the 2000s, palm print images. The primary uses case was for criminal bookings and for searching against the state and FBI’s criminal fingerprint database.

Fast-forward some 20 years, and, while there have been some advancements in the technology through the years, the software and user interface hasn’t changed all that much. NEC thinks now is the time for a renaissance in livescan technology.

This week at the International Association for Identification’s 101st International Education Conference in Cincinnati, NEC launched the next generation in livescan technology, called NEC SmartScan. You can read the details in our press release, but suffice it to say that SmartScan is designed to significantly enhance what had become an obsolete technology with an outdated user interface.

Why start a renaissance in livescan now?

For starters, rapid rotation of correctional officers leads to a constant need for training and a battle against poor quality finger and palm prints. We now have the ability to significantly enhance the user experience using the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system. This allows us to leverage a more personalized look and ability for swipe, scroll, pinch and zoom and give the system a much more modern look and feel, leading to accelerated training and improved image quality capture.

Secondly, LiveScan reliability and service has been poor. Our remote managed services, coupled with the industry’s most talented and dedicated support personnel available 24×7, leads to higher uptime, better customer satisfaction and guaranteed service level agreement (SLA) performance. The bottom line is keeping this technology online and running smoothly is a major priority in today’s world.

Thirdly, the individual components of livescan have gotten faster, better and more secure. For example, NEC’s own NeoFace facial recognition technology, recognized by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) as the world’s most accurate, will be used for operator logon and as a means to avoid duplicate data entry. Let’s leverage that in a world-class livescan!

NEC SmartScan

And finally, thanks to the introduction of various state and federal programs, the identity and biometrics industry has a host of new and exciting use cases for livescan technology. It’s not just state and local law enforcement that can use livescan these days. From state public safety departments to TSA Pre® to FBI background checks to the Department of Veteran Affairs enrollment, government agencies and departments are finding new uses for livescan. NEC plans to be there every step of the way.

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IAI International Education Conference

The IAI International Education Conference, held in August each year, offers a 5-day schedule loaded with educational presentations for forensic investigators and experts from across the country. Likewise, the IAI has an impressive exposition with more than 125 booths featuring the latest products and technologies for law enforcement.

This year in Cincinnati, NEC (booth 301) is demonstrating the new SmartScan product both in kiosk and desktop form factors. We’re also holding live demos in our booth’s presentation theater, where we’ll also be giving away T-Shirts and chocolate bars, so if you are there, please come by.

Live NEC SmartScan Demos (IAI Booth 301)
Tuesday, August 9 10:30 a.m.
Tuesday, August 9 1:30 p.m.
Tuesday, August 9 4:00 p.m.
Wednesday, August 10 10:30 a.m.
Wednesday, August 10 1:30 p.m.

NEC is always excited to be a part of this conference. As in previous years, we are a Diamond sponsor and the lead sponsor for the Opening Ceremony, breakfast and keynote. This year, we’re very lucky to have as our keynote speaker the Justice Network’s Dayle Hinman, host of “Body of Evidence: From the Case Files of Dayle Hinman.”

Additionally, yours truly (John Dowden) will participate in an expert panel at 8 a.m. Thursday, August 11, titled “Expanding the IAI to Focus on Digital Evidence.” I’m proud to be part of this panel and a technology company helping to shape the future of digital evidence collection.

Feel free to follow @NEC and @The_IAI on Twitter during the show, or you can also check out the hashtag #IAI2016.

 

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NEC’s Collaborative Solutions: Highlighting Interop 2016

Connect. Communicate. Collaborate. These three tenets of our organization were proudly on display as NEC showcased its Smart Enterprise solutions at Interop 2016, the 30th anniversary of the conference.

The Interop conference was founded to focus on network interoperability and openness. Initially, the show just emphasized IP networks, but throughout the years it has broadened its scope to technology collaboration in today’s cloud computing era.

All the NEC solutions on display were well integrated with this year’s Interop theme – that behind every successful innovation is effective communication and collaboration.

One of the highlights of our booth was NEC’s partnership with Dell to demonstrate our strengths in campus networking.

Campus networks include many diverse and challenging requirements, such as technology integration, provisioning, and security policy enforcement. By their nature, campus networks are frequently multi-tenant, meaning the networks must be virtualized so various users can ensure their distinct policy enforcement. Layered switch fabrics, ever-changing connectivity requirements, wired and wireless connectivity, and complex regulatory environments make campus networks difficult to manage.

NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller overcomes these obstacles. This solution enables network owners to control and manage their network centrally, bringing the same benefits of server virtualization.

NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller with @Dell S3100 switches will optimize campus network ops #SDN Click To Tweet

Together with Dell, we demonstrated how to deliver the performance, security, and agility campus networks demand in a cost-effective, easy-to-manage way. Deploying NEC’s ProgrammableFlow Controller with Dell S3100 switches will optimize campus network operations and reduce management overhead, boost scalability, and deliver secure and reliable connectivity.

Also showcased in the booth was NEC’s global open networking partner program, SDN Partner Space. With NEC and Netcracker SDN/NFV expertise behind it, SDN Partner Space enables network and IT vendors to enter the SDN/NFV market and redefine the rules imposed by traditional flat networks, while also benefitting from new business opportunities.

Joining SDN Partner Space can help transform the traditional business by including new applications and services that are only available in virtualized network environment. Moreover, SDN Partner Space enables in-house virtual network functions to be compatible with other SDN/NFV solutions so they can be cross-sold to businesses in any market.

Visitors to our booth were also able to see our high-availability data center on display. Large data computing tasks and the evolving requirements of the Internet of Things requires intelligent fault tolerant solutions to power a Smart Enterprise. Whether on premises or off premises, NEC’s infrastructure solutions provide the necessary foundation to meet these demands.

Interop 2016 was a great opportunity to share ideas, connect with the world’s IT community, and illustrate NEC’s commitment to orchestrating a brighter world.

Can You Really Predict Technology Trends?

Every year there are always plenty of fresh predictions and industry trends brought forward and discussed. They make for interesting reading, and beg the question – are they really predictions or are we just susceptible to the power of suggestion?

Many predictions have solid backing, such as Gartner’s Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends, announced at the Gartner Symposium / ITXpo. Gartner defines a strategic technology trend as one with the potential for significant impact on the organization, including a high potential for disruption to the business, end users, or IT; the need for a major investment; or the risk of being late to adopt. They look at trends that will impact an organization’s long-term plans, programs, and initiatives.

For 2016, Gartner predicted the following trends:

  • The Device Mesh
  • Ambient User Experience
  • 3D Printing Materials
  • Information of Everything
  • Advanced Machine Learning
  • Autonomous Agents and Things
  • Adaptive Security Architecture
  • Mesh App and Service Architecture
  • Internet of Things Platforms

In another set of predictions, No Jitter showcased the top four UC predictions for 2016. These included:

What Do They Have In Common?

When we read some of the trends and predictions, they almost seem too good to be true. It would appear that technology is moving toward almost an AI state where we can rely on it for everything. Science fiction aside, the one constant we do see is how technology improves the lives of those in business, communities, government entities, law enforcement, and individually at home and school. What we see is that all these trends have a common thread, one that we believe is critical to consider with every innovation we create at NEC – effective communication, collaboration, and orchestration of lives using Smart Solutions to improve and enhance every aspect of our lives.

For example, when adding UC to Workforce Management, contact centers are even more empowered to provide excellent customer service. If you combine Unified Communications with SDN, you have a powerful system that not only ensures your employees are communicating in a more efficient manner, but the system is now able to align itself with any traffic, making disaster recovery or even challenging inclement weather much easier to overcome.

CTA_download_smart_enterprise_drivers_ebook

Biometrics is another solution that has so many applications to positively impact our lives. Whether it’s the ability for law enforcement to rapidly and correctly identify a bad guy on the spot, or retail establishments to provide their customers with an amazing experience, biometrics will impact a multitude of industries, improving customer experiences and empowering the forward momentum of the Internet of Things.

Information is at an all-time premium, as businesses move toward more efficient and effective operations. When combining SDN with our server technology, our clients now can focus on their business needs and let the technology support the flow of data in an efficient manner to ensure constant access and improved uptime.

Of course, when you think about the Information of Everything, it is important to include data analytics as a foundational element. According to Gartner, by 2020, 25 billion devices will be generating data about almost every topic imaginable. There will be an abundance of data, but how do you make sense of it? Data analytics is no longer a single solution to consider, but a necessary component to capture data and provide appropriate information to create actionable results. Those companies that harness the power this data provides will have a competitive advantage.

Speaking of data, companies are not the only ones who have a significant need for big data, analytics, and positive user experiences. NEC focuses on various solutions, such as water leak detection systems; integration support for semantic interoperability into the NEC Internet of Things and Smart City Platforms; and integrated platforms for distribution of grid management, energy efficiency, distributed generation, and energy storage, just to name a few.

Just like Gartner and No Jitter, NEC invests significant effort and resources into research to ensure that solutions we develop will not only meet the needs of our clients today, but also their upcoming needs tomorrow. This serious focus on research and development has been part of the core philosophy of NEC since our inception. We believe that as recognized innovation leaders we can ensure our solutions truly meet the needs of our clients while continuing to keep pace with emerging trends and the expanding capabilities technology affords for the future.

Can you predict technology trends? We believe so—but only by keeping your finger on the pulse of business and societal needs.  NEC’s focus on solutions perfectly aligns with the trends we see, combining powerful technology to empower our clients and enhance their lives. Whether  providing platforms for significantly improved communication, ensuring improved flow of information through powerful data analytics, or inventing new solutions for society that support a better life, NEC will continue to focus on improving our lives through technology.

NEC Strengthens Its Biometrics Solution by Partnering with Expert Dr. Anil Jain

As a society, we’re increasingly comfortable with cameras being a part of everyday life. They’re built into our phones, hanging over every traffic light, and placed behind most cash registers. Still, for law enforcement, a perfect image of a face can be hard to come by, especially when suspects intentionally try to obscure their identity.

It was this issue that Dr. Anil Jain, distinguished professor of computer science and engineering at Michigan State University (MSU), set out to solve Using a database of unconstrained images – also known as “faces in the wild” because pictures are pulled from sources like social media – Dr. Jain and his team (Dr. Dayong Wang, a postdoctoral researcher, and Charles Otto, a doctoral student) created an algorithm that quickly generates a list of candidate matches to help identify unknown faces from surveillance camera footage or crime-scene images.

NEC recently partnered with Dr. Jain and MSU to license this large-scale face-search system and will use it to enhance its current facial recognition solutions.

“NEC has a very powerful face recognition software called NeoFace that was primarily designed for mug shot to mug shot matching,” said Dr. Jain, “and it has performed extremely well compared to its peers in that kind of scenario. So, they were looking for a solution for the problem where query images have rather large variability in terms of pose, illumination, and expression, and still need to be searched against large face databases.”

“NEC is committed to maintaining its leadership position in facial recognition solutions,” said Raffie Beroukhim, vice president, NECAM’s Biometrics Solutions Division. “In addition to our own continued research, partnerships with academia, in particular Michigan State University, is an important aspect of this commitment. We look forward to the fusion of MSU large-scale face-search algorithm with our industry-leading NeoFace facial algorithms to offer more compelling solutions to address ever-increasing security threats and enhance public and national security.”

“What we provided is a prototype,” said Dr. Jain. “NEC will modify the algorithm that we provided, integrate it with their existing systems, and improve the overall face recognition performance.”

Since joining MSU in 1974, Dr. Jain has received numerous recognitions for his contributions to the field of pattern recognition and biometrics, including his February 2016 election to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE), one of the highest professional distinctions bestowed on an engineer.

Interestingly, he didn’t set out to specialize in biometrics. His career took a turn when the U.S. government engaged Dr. Jain, about 25 years back, to find civilian applications for a government-designed hardware, the Splash 2 processor, that was based on FPGA technology.

“They didn’t tell me to work on biometrics, but the hardware that they provided us made us realize that it was extremely suitable for a generic image processing operation, called point matching, where we extract landmarks from two separate images and put them in correspondence or alignment. And since fingerprint matching is done by using point (minutia) correspondence … it was like serendipity.”

For years, biometrics was primarily used for law enforcement and government applications. Over the past five years or so, we’re seeing more consumer applications of biometrics. We use fingerprints to unlock smartphones. There’s even a facial recognition application that can estimate a subject’s age and gender for targeted advertisements. According to Dr. Jain, the rise of biometrics in our everyday lives has had an element of serendipity as well – where market forces have had to align with high usability and low cost to facilitate adoption.

“Who would have imagined just four years ago that everybody would be using a fingerprint to unlock their phones? Biometrics for mobile devices had been available earlier, but it didn’t really become popular until Apple introduced the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in 2013. This shows that sometimes, even though the technology may be ready, the technology doesn’t lift off unless it’s packaged properly – like Apple putting the fingerprint sensor in the home button.”

Dr. Jain and his doctoral students continue to use their research laboratory to investigate real-world issues and address long-standing research problems. In addition to the large-scale face-search system, recent topics include a study on the persistence of fingerprint recognition accuracy over time and methods to prevent printed photo and replay attacks on a face recognition system.

“We’re really proud of the work we did on fingerprint persistence and face spoof detection because these fundamental problems needed to be answered,” said Dr. Jain. “And these are the issues that need to be addressed for every biometric modality. The impact of the problem is what we keep in mind when we choose which topic to work on. Sometimes, more than technology advancement, we take pleasure in advancing fundamental scientific work.”

NEC is proud to collaborate with visionary leaders like Dr. Jain. NEC already has one of the strongest biometrics offerings available, and as we continue our own research and forge partnerships with biometric leaders, the future of biometrics is something to look forward to.