In late August, NEC’s annual RESOLVE Plus Conference took place at NEC Corporation of America’s (NEC) headquarters in Irving, TX. NEC’s RESOLVE Plus (Remote Engineering Support of Large Volume End-users) is a subscription program for end users with at least 20,000 end points which provides direct access to NEC’s National Technical Assistance Center (NTAC) for engineering support plus complete software support coverage for NEC platform software and applications through Software Assurance (SWA). The conference brings together members of the program to discuss their existing solutions and NEC’s overall technology offerings portfolio.
RESOLVE Plus members from Vanderbilt University, Tift Regional Health System, JPS Health Network, Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital, and the Department of Veteran Affairs attended the two-day gathering. The conference agenda emphasized administration of various NEC applications currently running at customer sites in an effort to demonstrate how to increase efficiency. Members were provided expert technical insights on the latest software releases and enhancements leveraging NEC’s application technology to increase work productivity. Additional presentations of particular interest included: NEC Product Roadmaps, an overview of the UNIVERGE SV9500, and NEC’s IT offerings.
The RESOLVE Plus Conference is also an opportunity for members to network, exchange and share new ideas around product implementation and use. Marcus Newman, Manager of Network Services at Vanderbilt University, who values the networking opportunity that the RESOLVE Plus Conference offers, commented, “It is always good to get in a face-to-face setting to hear about challenges experienced by other large customers and how they were resolved, plus discuss our own.” Discussing NEC solutions and the design implementation at other sites provides insights on how to better utilize NEC’s technology and make it more efficient. Marcus added, “The direct interaction with the SWA team, NTAC managers and staff, and product managers helps build relationships that have been very beneficial to us in the past.”
This sentiment was echoed by Walter Niedhammer, Voice Network Team Lead at JPS Health Network, when he affirmed, “The NEC RESOLVE Plus conference provides an opportunity for us to communicate directly with NEC and other top level customers. But more importantly, NEC RESOLVE is a unique relationship that allows us to give and receive direct information and feedback on current solutions, to hear about new products and offerings, and to provide our input on what the group feels would be beneficial to all.”
While NEC strives to make the two-day conference informative and worthwhile to the RESOLVE Community, we also like to have a little fun! Watching the Texas Rangers take on the LA Dodgers Global Life Park in Arlington was the perfect way to relax and network. To learn more about the value NEC offers with RESOLVE Plus Program, fill out the form below.
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This year’s conference agenda emphasized sharing success stories of transformation—through selling and implementing Smart Enterprise solutions in businesses of all sizes. Playing off a theme of “Exchange. Transform. Experience.” keynote presentations focused on how Digital Transformation is altering today’s business landscape. Paul Kievit, head of NEC’s enterprise business for EMEA and the Americas, noted that the integration of digital technology permeates all areas of business, causing a cultural shift in which organizations increasingly challenge the status quo with technology and innovation. NEC’s success comes from delivering IT and communications to create customer solutions for digital transformation.
Opportunities for attendees to network, exchange lessons learned and share new ideas expanded this year with the addition of expanded breakout sessions and solution demos.
“We listened to feedback from our partners and transformed our conference to include more breakouts, unique sessions, customer stories and partner experiences,” said Larry Levenberg, vice president of sales.
One of the highlights this year was the “Proud to Partner” session with presentations by a panel of partners Guyette Communications Industries, ServiceMark Telecom, Matrix Communications and Magna5. Representatives from each company described their organizations’ own recent transformational experiences, sharing advice and lessons learned with partners planning to embark on a similar path.
Vision for the Future
NEC executives also shared the company’s technology vision and strategy updates during keynote presentations. NEC’s Smart Enterprise technology strategy consists of a three-pronged approach, as outlined by Ram Menghani, senior vice president, UC/IT products and support:
1. Maintain unified communications and hybrid IT at our core
2. Grow intelligent-edge solutions and business models by incorporating biometrics, artificial intelligence, IoT and dynamic workflow into our offerings
3. Create additional value for individuals, enterprises and societies
“Since we first launched our Smart Enterprise initiative in 2015, we’ve converted many of our solutions to software-based platforms and converged our IT and communications channels. We created hybrid cloud offerings, building Platform Solution Integration Centers across the globe,” said Menghani. “Moving into the future, these centers will evolve into Centers of Excellence and key competency centers that will further fuel the creation of innovative solutions based on local and global trends, as well as emerging factors in society.”
He went on to say that this past year NEC expanded its strategy by functionally combining operations in NEC America with those of NEC EMEA. This combination propels innovation and simplification of the company’s products, resulting in greater support for both partners and customers.
Advantage also provided an excellent opportunity for partners and consultants to meet directly with NEC solutions experts and the management team. The expo area featured demos of NEC’s IT and UC solutions for both SMB and enterprise, including cloud, biometrics and analytics. Valued partners who provide joint solutions with NEC also showcased their demos in the expo area.
Extreme weather events have caused massive destruction across North America in recent months. In early 2018, the eastern part of the U.S. experienced a “bomb cyclone” consisting of severe cold temperatures, massive amounts of snow and lots of misery. Last summer and early fall, the Gulf Coast and Caribbean were hard hit by hurricanes during one of the most severe tropical storm seasons in years. Parts of Puerto Rico still are struggling to even get the power back on and other services.
Weather wreaks havoc not only on daily life, but disrupts businesses as well. Lack of power, paralyzed transportation and infrastructure damage have a definite impact on “business as usual.” Over the past several years, the Ponemon Institute (https://www.ponemon.org/), which conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy, has launched three studies since 2010 on the cost of data center downtime. In its latest study (2016), the research shows that the average cost of a data center outage was $740,000, an increase of 38% since the first study in 2010.
The cost of one outage can be measured in many ways—loss of revenue and productivity, damage to an organization’s reputation in the market, customer churn and loss of future opportunities. Depending on the timing and duration of an outage, some industries may be more adversely affected than others. Think about a resort hotel that is unable to book rooms online during the height of the tourist season. Potential customers quickly lose patience and head to the competition or give up entirely. Or consider a transportation organization—outages cause inconvenience for passengers and loss of revenue for carriers, but might be a safety concern as well.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Two elements of business planning, business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR), are especially critical during a disaster or outage. Continued business operations depend on an organization’s ability to replicate its systems and data quickly. The ability to plan ahead and adapt during a crisis to restore business operations — without long-term or permanent negative effects — are crucial to an organization’s success. Business continuity goes beyond staying up and running during a disaster. It also means keeping all parts of the business running effectively and efficiently, not just the technology systems.
It’s important to keep a BCDR plan updated as IT changes occur, such as when new applications are added, new technologies become available, or when moving applications to the cloud, for example. By keeping the BCDR plan aligned with the business plans, the IT team won’t be caught off guard when an outage occurs.
Fortunately, technology provides solutions that help mitigate the effects of a disaster, natural or otherwise, and keep businesses online.
Keeping Data Center Operations Humming
For years it’s been a common practice for companies to maintain backup copies of data at an off-site location, usually within a short driving distance of the primary data center. While this practice works for many outage situations, a natural disaster such as a snowstorm, earthquake or mud slide could have a widespread geographic impact that affects not only the location of the main data center, but the backup location as well.
Deploying a cloud solution mitigates that disaster scenario. Cloud-based services support an organization’s ability to plan for disaster recovery and benefit ongoing business continuity. Cloud solutions come in three major deployments—public, private and hybrid. All have pros and cons, depending on the organization’s needs. For instance, private cloud solutions such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide the elasticity, flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, but can be dedicated to one account, thus providing a more personalized and secure solution.
IaaS solutions offer advantages over a public cloud, including seamless technology upgrades and more control. Advanced compute, storage and network technology can combine in a private cloud offering such as IaaS, but no solution is “one-size-fits-all.” It’s important to work with a service provider who can create a solution that fits the organization. IaaS lends itself to customization that caters to the unique needs of an organization.
The advantages of a private cloud are numerous:
Lower costs than maintaining a private data center
Maintain standards of regulatory compliance
Access to the latest technologies making it easier to stay current
More control than a public cloud, including a more secure solution
Standard billing so there are no “surprises”
Less burden on internal IT teams and staff
During a natural disaster, IaaS can be the ideal solution for BCDR. By providing an off-premises, hosted environment, the data center continues to operate from a location far removed from the disaster. Data is secured and transactions with customers and partners continue without interruption. Fault-tolerant servers offer five 9s of uptime and scalability. A grid storage system helps ensure redundancies to protect a company’s mission-critical data. Using grid storage, a company can replicate its data at an off-site location. During an outage or natural disaster, the master site can be recovered by using the data at the remote site, by means of an Optimized Copy, without having to import backup images.
NEC partner Iron Mountain maintains its National Data Center, located 220 feet below ground in Western Pennsylvania and considered one of the most secure, compliant and energy-efficient data center complexes in the world. As a technology infrastructure provider and part of Iron Mountain’s Data Center Marketplace, NEC is able to provide additional value-added services such as Disaster Recovery as a Service from this secure location.
Learn how NEC teams up with its partner Iron Mountain to provide an IaaS solution housed in one of the most secure locations in the world, the Iron Mountain National Data Center.
Location of the ‘Office’ No Longer Matters
When a weather event or other natural disaster strikes, the ability to enable employees to work from anywhere becomes critical. Working remotely means staff can perform their jobs as seamlessly as if they were in the office, supporting business operations, serving customers, suppliers and partners, and getting their work done.
Cloud-based applications enable employees to keep things running from remote locations. With unified communications and collaboration tools such as softphones, instant messaging, and audio and video conferencing, dispersed teams collaborate and work on projects even when the weather outside slows transportation to a crawl. Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get to the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions as well.
Virtual desktops can be linked through a private network connection to a secure, remote data center far from the bad weather or natural disaster. Best of all, desktops in the cloud look and behave as if they are part of a corporate IT environment. Customers and employees won’t notice a difference in the quality of service.
Software-defined networking (SDN) simplifies network management, proactively addresses network performance and quickly re-routes network traffic as needed—all critical functions during a severe weather occurrence or natural disaster. An SDN solution centralizes control of the network and automatically monitors and prioritizes network traffic, distributing it according to pre-defined policies and constantly updates network resources and traffic conditions.
When the blizzard, mud slide, earthquake, wildfire or hurricane strikes your location, the right solutions and technology enable business as usual. Consider private cloud solutions when developing your business continuity and disaster recovery plans to help create a safe and secure environment that protects data and applications, and keeps your business running.
Free Ebook 5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore
To learn more about the benefits of a private cloud, check out 5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore. Fill out the form to download the ebook.
People who know me will tell you that I’m an enthusiastic and optimistic person. It’s hard to get me down. If you see me at an industry event or tradeshow, I’m usually pumped up about something.
But even for me, this year’s Federal Identity Forum & Exposition (FedID 17), held September 12-14 in Washington, D.C., genuinely got me more excited for our industry than I’ve been in several years.
Formerly known as the Biometric Consortium Conference (BCC) and the Global Identity Summit (GIS) , the newly branded FedID is the U.S. federal government’s primary outreach and collaboration-building event with the worldwide identity community. The event has evolved over the years through a post-9/11 biometric boom to a slowdown in deployments, and now to a time when our industry is once again seeing a greater push toward mass adoption of identity matching technology.
NEC showcased its world-class biometrics solutions for multiple federal audiences and departments. We spanned a wide range of biometric technology, including fingerprint, face recognition, video surveillance and analysis, multimodal biometric enrollment, mobile fingerprint and forensic analysis. Where biometric identification is concerned, we had something for everyone.
This brings me to a list of favorites I’m calling the “six huge take-aways from FedID 17.” Here we go.
Face is the Future – Nearly everyone who came to our booth wanted to see NeoFace Express, which is our rapid-access face recognition system. Express is currently being tested at major airports by U.S. Customers and Border Protection for the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Exit pilot program. Biometric Exit is the federal government’s way of tracking outgoing international travelers so that U.S. officials can get a better picture of how many non-Americans are overstaying their travel visas.Conversations I had with people who saw the demo agreed that face recognition, when executed with a high degree of accuracy and precision, is the security technology of the immediate future. It’s fast and frictionless, it’s accurate, and it can help increase efficiency in airports where we all agree that faster queuing times are a good thing. That makes me excited.
Apple’s Face ID is a Victory for the Identity Industry – Apple’s big fall product launch event coincided with the first day of FedID 17, and as I said in my panel talk that same day, I think the Apple iPhone X Face ID feature is going to be great for our industry. Assuming the technology typically works as well as it did the second time Apple’s Phil Schiller attempted to demo the feature, and I assume it will, people will ultimately adopt face recognition as a lawful and acceptable security form. As my friend Peter O’Neill at FindBiometrics pointed out, our industry saw a huge push in fingerprint ID acceptance when the Touch ID scanner was introduced on the iPhone 5S. Expect iPhone X to do the same for face.
Robust Testing is Critical – In most of the conversations I had about face recognition at FedID, there typically came a time when someone said of face recognition, “Yes, I agree, but it’s got to work.” It seems like an obvious statement, but those of us in the industry can all agree that achieving a high degree of accuracy and performance for a face recognition algorithm takes a lot of hard work, investment, and patience. Federal officials require that any technology they use for biometric identity is accurate and responsive enough to return a match in less than 2 seconds, often times milliseconds. Lucky for NEC, our NeoFace algorithm is the consistent top performer in performance testing by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Humans Are Important – Perhaps this is another obvious statement, but there are actually two ways that human intervention is absolutely integral to the success of any identity matching technology. After all, we are talking about protecting people’s personal freedoms at multiple levels here.For starters, face recognition and today’s more advanced identity matching algorithms are actually a form of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and they must be taught how to identify people in a wide array of conditions. That means we (the humans) have to teach it (the technology) about adverse lighting conditions, a wide diversity in facial features, shades, anomalies and shapes, odd capture angles, and many other factors, in order to achieve a higher degree of matching accuracy. We know this from more than 40 years of experience in developing identity matching technology.
Secondly, any biometric technology, whether it’s fingerprint, iris or face recognition, will never be 100 percent accurate all of the time. Having a living, breathing, well-trained human being present to handle exceptions and errors in any automated identity matching process is critical to the long-term success of biometric technology. Just as fingerprinting has been around for more than 100 years in law enforcement, responsible and ethical use by humans will be key for biometric identity matching to be around for the next 100.
Federal Officials are Moving Ahead – Obviously the world is not yet fully on-board with using biometric identity matching at every major checkpoint or public event, but it’s clear to me that the federal government is headed toward mass adoption at multiple levels. From the CBP Biometric Exit pilots to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s use of handheld fingerprint scanners and beyond, we haven’t seen the last of biometrics being deployed in our daily lives.
Privacy is Important – It’s hard to talk about identity without addressing privacy in the same breath, and that was certainly the case in most of my conversations at FedID. People generally have concerns about privacy, specifically how long the government can retain biometric data for U.S. citizens and who will have access to your biometric data. Those conversations are playing out at the federal policy level as we speak. Every indication I’m seeing is that the policy discussions will not change the fact that face recognition is an extremely secure and convenient way to verify a person’s identity. Every face is different, and with the latest advances it has become very hard to fool the technology. No security or authentication technology is 100-percent perfect, but with great technology and the hard work of diligent humans, our face recognition comes pretty darn close.
It’s an exciting time to be in our industry. I look forward to continuing the healthy dialog and debate as we get closer to mass adoption within the federal government.
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Facial recognition technology has matured rapidly and provides game-changing solutions to today’s identification challenges. To learn more, fill out the form to download the white paper.
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.
As expected, the event did not disappoint. Below are a few of my favorite take-away thoughts and ideas from AFIS 2016.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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