Eight Key Insights from AFIS 2017

Our annual AFIS Internet User Conference leads the way for law enforcement forensic professionals. This year’s highly anticipated event in Sacramento brought together professionals from around the globe, to share information and learn from the best of the best. This is as much a learning event for NEC as it is for our AFIS User Group. Together we explored issues affecting the law enforcement community today. Attendees learned more about new techniques in forensics, and experienced the latest in identification technology solutions, and glimpsed into the future of biometrics, innovations designed to make our lives easier and to meet the expanding security needs of our changing world.

I’d like to express my deep gratitude to the AFIS Internet Board, the organizers of this conference, and for the special efforts and leadership of the Sacramento Division of the California Department of Justice, our host agency.

It was difficult to choose, but here are my top eight insights from the many outstanding moments at AFIS Internet 2017:

  1. Pass it On The 3-day event was perfectly kicked off by keynote speaker, Jim Hyde, Co-Founder of Peer Support Central, as he brought timely insights into the need for our mentoring of the next generation of pros, and the importance of critical knowledge transfer to the new breed of law enforcement, the Millennial generation. Jim concluded with a moving personal experience of a First Responder being shot in the line of duty–when a seasoned police dispatcher knew to stay on the line, reach out, and to comfort and encourage him until help arrived. That “going above and beyond” the task at hand can make all the difference in the outcome; what a critical wisdom nugget to pass on to the next generation!
  1. Be Informed Marty Parker, FBI Agent, pulled back the curtain to reveal the real deal about child sex trafficking. Her informative session was riveting and heart breaking as she emphasized the power of a truly caring hug for these extremely tough kids, how critical it is to free them emotionally by convicting their captors, and the value of identification of juvenile prostitutes on the street, in hotels and casinos, and on internet locations.
  1. Share in Successes Actual NeoFace® Reveal use-case success stories were shared by the Arizona Department of Transportation. Visuals were shown of how facial recognition as a time-saving identification tool was used to help ID and facilitate the capture and conviction of a slippery career criminal who had long specialized in multiple identity thefts, forgery and mail fraud.
  1. Learn About Enhanced Security An update from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs Border Protection (CBP) on the use of biometrics at exit point operations helped us gain a clearer picture of security measures currently in place at our nation’s borders. With NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems and biometrics improvements for border security at strategic international airports, ports and border crossings, highly trafficked points of entry/ exit, it’s clear that facial recognition ID is our best “touch-less” safeguard, and also possible that our face will actually be our boarding pass in the future!

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  1. Get Professional Work Tips With multiple industry-specific sessions aimed directly at providing training for the forensics professional, there was a wide range of insider tips. For example: how to sharpen your courtroom testimony skills, best practice crime scene fingerprinting (on the living and deceased), how to best deal with applying for and managing federal grants, the use and importance of Mobile ID devices (for immediate on-scene fingerprint capture and ID—before the suspect disappears), as well as some expert Ten-Print help with creating and implementing the “Henry” classification formula. We even learned efficiency suggestions for supervisors of telecommuting teams of Latent Print Examiners.
  1. Look Into the Future NEC brought compelling Advanced Recognition System (ARS) presentations, international updates, and exciting views into the current and future place of biometrics in the arena of public safety and as part of our daily lives; simplifying our access, giving us ease of movement, protecting and serving those who protect and serve.
  1. Experience Cutting Edge Technology NEC showcased its latest identification technologies, including interactive, expertly guided 10-print workshops with hands-on experience with NEC’s Integra-ID iBW, the latest in fingerprint technology processing. NEC’s demo exhibits on NeoFace® Watch and NeoFace® Express showed how touch-free identification can actually help simplify public safety work, as well as increase location access security. The NeoFace® Reveal and SmartScan interface exhibits gave an up-close and personal encounter for many AFIS Internet members as they transition to facial recognition disciplines in addition to fingerprint and ten print identification work.
  1. Meet Others Like You One of the joys of an event like the AFIS Internet User Conference is the rare opportunity to socialize, network, and brainstorm with others who understand the intricacies of your unique universe; this means experts from technology innovators like NEC, together with a diverse gathering of like-minded crime-fighting professionals who daily face the same issues and challenges you do. Clearly the casually fun evenings were planned with that fraternity in mind!

The closing AFIS 2017 Awards Banquet was the crowning jewel. This was a time to recognize the newly elected AFIS Internet, Inc. Executive Board–made up entirely of working industry professionals, and to honor recipients of the AFIS Internet 2017 “Biometric Hit of the Year Award”: Faith Contreras (Facial Recognition Program Administrator and Law Enforcement Coordination Unit Supervisor for the Office of the Inspector General) together with Detective Keith Richerson of Arizona Department of Transportation were awarded for Facial Recognition use on an Identity theft/ forgery/ fraud case, and Sgt. Amanda Crooker of the Michigan State Police was honored for impressive (Latent/ Palm /Finger) Print hit success on a cold homicide case.

Congratulations to all, with our sincere gratitude for your service!

This year’s AFIS Internet Group Board did a fantastic job of bringing together relevant and important topics, with a roster of respected international experts who engaged and educated, but also inspired us.

If you missed AFIS 2017, we hope you’ll put it into your calendar now, to join us next August 26-29, 2018, in Reston, Virginia. Of course, meanwhile, you can check out or relive the excitement by viewing our photo gallery, or our AFIS 2017 Recap Video below.

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2017 Emergency Assistance and Relief Program

Hurricane Harvey has left a path of destruction along the southern parts of Texas and Louisiana. There are currently major fires ongoing in the majority of the northwestern states and California that are devastating thousands of acres along with many towns. Hurricane Irma has already wreaked havoc on the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, and the projections indicate similar destruction potential for Florida and the Southeast. NEC has many customers, as well as employees and Channel Partners in these affected areas. Our hearts and deepest sympathies are with the families and victims of these devastating natural disasters.

NEC has a sincere desire to help support businesses that have been damaged or destroyed by these devastating storms and fires. To assist affected customers and channel partners, NEC is implementing the 2017 Emergency Assistance and Relief Program.

This Program is designed to help our customers and channel partners recover as quickly and completely as possible. NEC understands that when your communications systems are down, your business shuts down. It is very important to get them up and running as quickly as possible.

The Program offers businesses with damaged communications and data center (servers & storage) systems in declared Emergency and Major Disaster areas by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) special financing, payment terms, a technical support hotline, and select waived implementation fees.

For a customer or channel partner to qualify for NEC’s 2017 Emergency Assistance and Relief Program, they must be located in a county in the declared Emergency Disaster area and replacing equipment damaged on or after August 1, 2017. To confirm if you are in an area (county) that qualifies for this program, please refer to the Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Declarations web page of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security web site. To verify individual addresses, please refer to the Disaster Assistance.Gov web site.

Also, a great interim solution, as well as long term option, is NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services to get you immediately connected. A softphone can easily be loaded onto your mobile device until you can get your on-premises solution back up and running. Through this assistance program, NEC is waiving implementation/activation fees on UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services for disaster affected customers.

In addition to NEC’s 2017 Emergency Assistance and Relief Program, we remind you that your acquisition of new equipment and/or software should qualify for the Section 179 deduction. Section 179 can provide you with significant tax relief for this 2017 tax year. To learn more and calculate your potential deduction savings, refer to – Section179.org.

NEC is aware of the difficult times ahead and we hope that this Program will help with your recovery and rebuilding efforts, and make the process a little easier. Again, our hearts and deepest sympathies are with those affected and we want you to know that we are here to help in any way that we can!

Here are some links to resources that may be of help:
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)
FEMA Hurricane Irma
Federal Emergency Management Agency Disaster Declarations
DisasterAssistance.Gov
Disaster Recovery Center Locator
FEMA Individual Disaster Assistance
FEMA Emergency Management Agencies Information
Ready.Gov – Plan Ahead for Disasters
Please reach out to us if you have any questions or if we can be of any assistance.

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To IaaS or Not to IaaS…That’s the Question for Today’s Organizations

The advantages of moving to Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) solutions are well documented, spurring continued growth in this area of cloud technology. For 2017, Gartner research predicts that IaaS spending will grow by 36.8% to $34.6 billion.

Any technology solution has benefits and potential drawbacks, of course. With IaaS solutions, organizations can enjoy flexibility, lower costs, faster service and better business agility. Balanced against these advantages are potential data security and privacy concerns, business disruption and changes in architecture and processes.

Organizations considering a move to IaaS solutions need long-term thinking. What criteria should a company use to determine if an IaaS solution is the right decision for its current and future business needs?

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Joint input from both IT and the business decision makers

As with most technology buying decisions, astute enterprises solicit input from both the IT and business points of view. When deciding to move to IaaS, examine an organization’s overall big picture goals and make sure the ultimate decision lines up with both IT and business strategies. From the IT side, the decision-making process takes into account not only costs, but should also include enterprise-wide considerations, such as the value of business agility and rapid go-to-market capabilities. On the other side, business units should look at whether a solution fits into the existing IT infrastructure, thus minimizing implementation costs and overall disruption, as well as thinking about new capabilities or competitive advantages.

Spiceworks research shows that IT and business owners often work in sync “to create a tech-decision duo.” Each side brings its unique perspective to the decision-making process. For example, IT researches compatibility with existing technology, implementation considerations and recommends optional solutions. The business side, which usually holds the purse strings, takes into account practical solutions, but also seeks innovation and technology advantages that will push the business forward.

Bottom line: IT brings deep insight to the buying decision and provides valuable input throughout the purchasing process. Meanwhile, the business unit looks at overall company strategy and adding a distinct point of differentiation, as well as improving customer service.

To learn how IaaS impacts areas throughout the enterprise, check out this post.

Build a trust with your IaaS Provider

An important part of any IaaS adoption is to have confidence in the chosen IaaS solution provider. Implementing an IaaS solution is not as simple as procuring additional processing or storage capability. Smart organizations also want a reputable IaaS partner that maintains the same levels of compliance, privacy and security when handling and storing customer data. Any agreements for IaaS solutions should include provisions for data privacy, security and governance that line up with the purchaser’s requirements.

Vendor lock-in is always a concern, too. Before signing the dotted line, determine how easy (or how difficult) it would be to migrate data and applications back to on premise or to another provider if the service level agreements are not maintained or costs no longer make sense. Take care to engage with an experienced IaaS provider who will work with you in the long term, particularly as business needs change.

Impact on in-house IT staff and resources

Saving on IT costs is one of the biggest advantages of an IaaS solution. However, most organizations will still maintain an IT staff that is responsible for managing the apps and determining how data are handled—either in-house or through the IaaS vendor or a combination of the two.

Organizations should consider which apps will move to the cloud, how application development and testing may have to be modified, and how new disaster recovery processes may affect liability and compliance. Keeping only core functions on premise enables the purchaser to focus on what’s most important to the business, while allowing the IaaS provider to manage capacity and handle more routine applications.

Cloud services must enable an organization to consume the right amount of the right IT services, on demand and at the right time. The ability to scale up or scale down is extremely important. An advantage of IaaS solutions is not having to worry about having too much or too little hardware on site as the business needs fluctuate seasonally, or even day-to-day.

Another important check point is to make sure the organization’s internal data communications resources allow adequate access to data and apps to and from the vendor site. It’s a real problem if internal and external clients can’t access IaaS because of internal internet service outages or clogged data pipelines.

Still on the fence? Check out Data Center Basics, Comparing Costs and Security.

Pricing

Two questions to consider are “how much is it going to cost” and “what’s the pricing structure?” When purchasing IaaS solutions, determine if pricing will be pay-by-use or on a monthly subscription. Think about surcharges that occur during peak times, which can be costly depending on the type and timing of business transactions. A “try before you buy” pilot program is a good option to help a purchaser determine what it’s like to work with an IaaS solutions provider.

Have budget constraints? See how NEC Financial Services can fund your IT needs.

IaaS is not just outsourcing

Making the move to an IaaS solution involves more than a simple shifting of IT assets. The process affects an organization’s data and applications architecture, and will change the way IT work across all business and support functions. IaaS solutions impact security, compliance, customer service and even insurance policies, so these business components must be taken into account when making the move to IaaS.

Developing a strong relationship between the solutions partner and the purchasing organization can help ensure success of an IaaS implementation. Consider which applications to outsource and which to maintain in house. Take into account the organization’s big picture business strategy. Finally, to secure the best solution and provider for their organizations, wise IT and business decision makers need to work together to balance the benefits with any potential challenges.

Want to learn more about IaaS and high security data solutions? Check out this recent post.

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Left of Boom – Defeating the Threat Among Us

It’s no secret the world has become a much more dangerous and complicated place in the 21st century. Terrorism itself has evolved, and so has the way our federal government is combatting and defending against it.

What has become clear is that violent extremist groups like ISIS and Al Qaeda have evolved to become influencers and master manipulators online and abroad. They’re not as focused on becoming an army of covert foot soldiers attempting to penetrate U.S. borders. The result of this is the evolution of the lone wolf attacker, a typically misguided and desperate soul who loses touch with reality and is somehow convinced or brainwashed into inflicting maximum damage through violence. We’ve seen this play out recently in the United Kingdom.

Since 2001, the United States has suffered over 40 lone-wolf terror attacks perpetrated by a diverse array of personality types. Although there is no single, universally accepted definition of a lone-wolf terror attack, academics generally define a lone wolf as a single attacker who plans and commits violent acts alone, outside of any command structure and without material assistance from any group.

The perpetrators of these terrible atrocities may be influenced by extreme political ideologies claiming religious motivations, or they may be disgruntled or mentally ill. In many cases, a combination of these factors are at play. The point is, profiles for these lone-wolf terrorists are consistently challenging to identify, which therefore makes prevention of individual attacks particularly difficult. The threat, needless to say, is even greater with those in positions of trust. Airport or airline employees and contractors with access to military installations with secure credentials are examples of individuals who are sometimes susceptible to these downfalls.

Since 2001, the U.S. has suffered over 40 lone-wolf terror attacks. #homelandsecurity Click To Tweet

Where lone wolves or any violent threats are concerned, the goal is to stay “left of boom.” Popularized in military circles during the months and years after 9/11, the phrase “left of boom” refers to the moments before an explosion or attack – a period when you still have time to prepare and avert a crisis. Right of boom, by contrast, includes the chaotic and deadly moments after the explosion or attack.

Law enforcement, public safety, and military officials associated with the people who perpetrate these terrorist acts. Research suggests early detection through preventative measures like situational awareness, monitoring Internet and social channels, and if needed, psychological screenings and interventions, are the best approaches to thwarting lone wolf attacks.

Individuals who carry out these attacks do follow a similar path from ideological influence to radicalization to violence. This path begins with a grievance that leads to moral outrage and anger projection, which leads to some sort of trigger point or justification for violence. At this point in the process, most people do not act.

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However, for the few who do act, either alone or in a group, the perpetrators tend to wade into an ideological end-state culminating in a terror attack. The fact that a process exists provides officials with some map to begin gathering information that might lead to prediction and prevention. Our public servants want to get left of boom in order to disrupt the chain of events that could lead to an attack.

At NEC, we’re passionate about the safety and security of all citizens. We are committed to providing solutions that assist our clients in identifying people, patterns, and predictions. For over 40 years, NEC Corporation has provided screening and background check information for purposes of law enforcement and applicant background checks. Our systems have cast the widest nets in identifying these individuals from searching local, state, FBI, DHS, Interpol and other biographic and biometrics databases.

NEC adheres to FBI, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and other industry standards for data exchange, as demonstrated by our customer install base. These deployments could allow law enforcement agencies to receive immediate notification of fault. Other random and frictionless screening with use of facial recognition may provide clues on relationships, associates and more. Such existing services can be augmented with publicly available biographic data including travel and purchase patterns to form the foundation of a collective dataset that would assist in analysis and identification of suspicious patterns leading to a prediction.

If we can look at an individual’s identity, patterns of life, and associations – among other data points – we can help our clients get closer to predicting and preventing lone-wolf attacks. We pride ourselves on being passionate problem solvers with an eye toward cutting-edge solutions that deliver precise and trusted results. If you’d like to hear more about our solutions and how we are solving the challenge of the threat among us, please contact us today.

People. Patterns. Predictions.
NEC Corporation of America’s Advanced Recognition Systems team is committed to developing and delivering public safety solutions that keep people safe.

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Diving Deep: How Advantages of Infrastructure as a Service Solutions Spread through the Enterprise

As cloud computing has rapidly become mainstream, more and more companies understand the value that it brings to their organizations overall. Even the most cautious and conservative of companies are turning toward cloud computing, particularly private clouds, which address potential security risks, lack of control issues, and offer an alternative to the public cloud.

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 greater peace of mind. IaaS solutions offer the enterprise advantages such as cost savings, compliance, seamless technology upgrades and more control. So, can these benefits trickle down to the individual job level? Can IaaS solutions make life easier for the various departments throughout your organization?

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A Trusted Resource for Your IT Department

The office of the CIO and the IT department are probably the most visible areas of the company to be impacted immediately with an IaaS solution. No longer will the IT staff handle repairs, upgrades and replacements of hardware devices. These functions are now delivered by the cloud provider, freeing time from routine IT activities so company engineers can focus instead on more value-added efforts, such as creating new applications for greater mobility or developing data analytics for better insight into business operations. As a bonus, the IT department immediately sees the benefits of the latest and greatest hardware and software through regular technology refresh, rather than waiting for budget that may not come until “next year” or even later.

Check out this free resource guide to Private Cloud.

For the CFO, it’s all about the bottom line

Maintaining your own data center comes with a hefty price tag. Ongoing costs include staffing, real estate and facilities, utilities, hardware and networking equipment, and software. Additional costs include providing for redundancy and business continuity. If there is a need to expand due to new business, continue adding a few more zeros to the costs.

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With an IaaS solution, these ongoing functions are handled by the cloud provider. The flexibility of IaaS lets your company scale up or scale down immediately as business conditions change. In addition, financing options can help the CFO support an organization’s important investment in IaaS solutions to enable business continuity and growth.

Put compliance concerns to rest

Compliance and regulatory requirements keep legal and risk teams up at night. Managing and securing data requires meeting regulations such as PCI and HIPAA. A public cloud requires sharing servers, storage and network access, making compliance nearly impossible. On the other hand, a private cloud IaaS solution means dedicated hardware for your company, making compliance much easier and less expensive to manage.

Make doing business with you easier for customers and employees

Instead of your IT staff configuring and managing servers, team members could be building mobile apps or other options for customers to easily engage with your company. Self-service options in turn reduce the workload of your customer service reps, decreasing staffing costs. Cloud-enabled mobility allows your service teams to be on the ground to help customers in person, improving customer service as well.

Creating sales Super Stars

IaaS also puts customer data immediately into the hands of your sales teams. A salesperson will have simplified access to the data he or she requires to tailor conversations with customers, enabling a more effective sales process.

Turning over the administrative tasks and staffing needed in maintaining a data center to a cloud provider can produce a positive effect throughout an organization. Your best IT engineers are free to focus on the unique aspects of your business. Fewer capital expenditures and a more predictable monthly operating cost helps the CFO manage the bottom line. Private cloud services give the enterprise better security and control and instant access to the latest technology. IT staff is free to focus on value-added services—such as greater mobility and improved business insights through data analytics—which benefit departments throughout the organization.

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