Protecting critical infrastructure and the fan experience with biometric face recognition

From concert halls to sports stadiums, nothing ruins an outing like a public safety incident. Whether it’s due to a fan’s reaction to an unpopular ruling on the field or a more intentional plot to inflict harm, when situations get out of control, the outcome is unpredictable and often dangerous.

Imagine a scuffle breaking out at a soccer match in a packed stadium, injuring not just members of the teams, but also innocent fans. Even worse, imagine the chaotic aftermath of the brutal bombing at the Arianna Grande concert in Manchester, UK. Preventing injuries and loss of life in incidents like these—not to mention identifying and helping apprehend the perpetrators—is critical.

See NEC demo its world-renowned NeoFace facial recognition biometric technology. - Watch NowWhat if the troublemakers at a soccer game could be identified before they are even admitted or seated? What if suspected terrorists could be recognized from live or recorded video feeds leveraging cameras at key chokepoints that don’t disrupt the flow and speed the security checks or even on crowded city streets?

NEC designed its NeoFace facial recognition solutions to address the critical security infrastructure needs of high-traffic venues like these. Web-based and easy-to-use, NeoFace has a scalable architecture and enterprise-class features that integrate and deploy with existing surveillance systems. Its high performance allows critical infrastructure to keep tens of thousands of sports fans safe, by accurately identifying the bad guys and alerting security personnel to help keep them out.

How advanced facial recognition helps cooler heads prevail

NeoFace works with video surveillance to check individuals against known watch lists and generates real-time alerts when positive matches are found. In a four-step process, it captures and extracts faces of individuals from video feeds, performs quality matches in real-time with unsurpassed accuracy and speed—handling up to 3.02 million searches per second.

It works like this:

  • Capture: Capture real-time from digital cameras, closed circuit television (CCTV) or archived footage.
  • Assess: Assess individual video frames, detect and analyze the unique facial signature of each face.
  • Match: Compare and match the signatures against a database which includes enrolled images of individuals.
  • React: Take a configurable action when a positive match is made.

Safe and secure, from front of house to back of house

There are hundreds more major concerts and sporting events scheduled worldwide throughout the rest of 2017. Unruly fans, unauthorized persons, and other persons-of-interest shouldn’t be allowed to ruin the thrill and excitement for others — and we don’t have to let them. With more than 100 years of expertise in technological innovation, NEC built NeoFace to provide critical infrastructure protection for venues like stadiums, making them safer and more secure.

Rapid identification eliminates long screening and admission queues. With NeoFace, VIP guests and season ticketholders can self-authenticate and enter in express lines and even pay-by-face for their concessions improving the customer experience, getting you back to the game quicker.

For back of house, NeoFace can protect employee, contractor and delivery entrances from unauthorized entry. NeoFace identifies known offenders on security watch lists and alerts security, before they can enter and cause harm.

Stay Tuned

Of course, concert and sports stadiums aren’t the only high-traffic venues where NEC solutions help keep the public safe. Watch this space for future posts on how NEC provides critical infrastructure for airports, cruise terminals, theme parks, transportation hubs and more.

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Digitizing the Shopping Journey

When a consumer browses a product or online store, ads seemingly follow them around the internet, enticing them to come back, take another look, or buy. When the same consumer is in a physical store, the retailer still has options to bring the customer back to the product and encourage them to buy. The challenge is how to use the data – the demographics, shopper preferences, and previous physical browsing history – to build an in-store experience that’s similar to an online experience.

Data Rich, Information Poor

Download our white paper Digitizing the Shopping Journey: Building a Business Model on Never Saying “No”Today’s retailers have access to more personal customer data, including tracking online and mobile searches through browser cookies and location data, in-store facial recognition technology, NFC, e-wallet, RFID tags, beacons, or simply monitoring whether a customer opens the store’s emails.

The challenge is not necessarily obtaining the data. The trick for retailers is now to figure out how to use all the data they accumulate to create better in-store experiences and products. Retailers are data rich, information poor.

Download our whitepaper “Digitizing the Shopping Journey: Building a Business Model on Never saying “No” Intent of the Data

Random gathering of data, originally intended to move retail into the future, now challenges retailers to thoughtfully formulate its use.  Used properly, valuable customer information can personalize messages, customize preferences, appeal to each individual shopper in a social way, and digitize their shopping journey.

To help retailers employ the overwhelming mountain of data, NEC retail solutions go beyond “cool hype” to provide value and increase efficiency. As an example, Stanchion™ Store software from NEC offers real-time access to data, enabling stores to respond faster to customers, improve communications and increase in-store productivity.

Easily configurable and cross-platform agnostic, retailers can expect:

  • The ability to control point-of-sale (POS) specific tasks, including modifying the user interface, searching for products, checking prices and more.
  • Enterprise-level, back-office capabilities including managing all aspects of in-store operations and system administration.
  • Fast and flexible tools for managing shelf labels, reporting, producing promotional displays, activating campaigns on the fly, and managing data through all stores.
  • Customization based on local-level market demands and reporting to help increase sales.

 See how NEC is using data analytics to digitize the shopping journey

Data Security and Customer Loyalty

Retailers must also consider that customers will stay loyal if their data is accessible and secure. Consumers want to be able to easily obtain and opt out of stores’ access to their personal and financial information. Data breaches and hacking have made some shoppers wary of sharing or storing their data with online or traditional retailers.

As stores continue to amass customer data, their responsibility for its use becomes greater year after year. Retailers need to understand their options for using customer data and how it can create a stronger relationship between customers and stores. With technological advances and online retailers ambitiously considering the future of shopping, partnership and guidance is required instead impulsively purchasing disparate solutions.

How can #retailers create a stronger relationship between customers and stores using #data? #CX Click To Tweet

The bottom line is this: if a shopper continues to have a positive experience with the retailer and feels a sense of reward for remaining loyal and relinquishing their information, the retailer may have created a customer for life.

Use of Data for Cashless Payments

Amazon Go, the new “grab and go” concept uses current technologies, but employs the data like never before. Shoppers are encouraged to walk into a prototype store, pick up their items, and simply walk out, without any interaction with a cashier or checkout counter.

For retailers to consider a similar concept, solutions to manage mobile POS, supply chain and inventory, and biometrics or facial recognition for payment are helpful. While shoppers are looking for convenience, they may still need to interact with retail employees within the store. Inventory must also be managed and restocked as customers make purchases.

NEC’s NeoFace® facial recognition engine is recognized as providing the highest level of authentication accuracy and is currently deployed among law enforcement agencies around the world. After a series of trials with Japan’s SMBC and Sumitomo Mitsui Card in late 2016, NEC debuted NeoFace® as a facial payment solution at 2017’s NRF Retail’s Big Show.

The technology matches pre-registered customer images with those in the POS system. Customers are also given a PIN to secure their account and confirm their identity. As with the Amazon Go prototype, NEC is tracking the solution through its trials with SMBC and within the company’s headquarters in Japan.

Watch this quick video to learn more:

Take a look at how we’re transforming the customer experience through NEC’s Retail Solutions.

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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?

Free Ebook 5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore

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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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.

 
 
 
 
 



Understanding Purpose Over Place in Retail

Choice is a good thing—especially if you’re a shopper. Today’s consumer seamlessly moves from online, in-store or a combination of the two when making purchases. For the traditional retailer, shopping options beyond the bricks-and-mortar store can feel intimidating.

Want advice on how to enrich your customer experience?To survive and thrive in this environment, in-store retailers must provide an experience that is different from the traditional, staid and disengaged experiences of the past. To bring shopping into the 21st century, retailers can take advantage of the latest technology to make shopping more convenient, secure and enjoyable for customers.

Changing the In-store Experience

To create a unique in-store experience, retail has become more niche and product-focused. Technology continues to play a big role in retail success by providing real value, not just cool hype.

Data visibility in the store also helps retailers dive deeper into captured data to uncover buying intentions. Stanchion™ Store software from NEC strives to help retailers better Know Your Customer to understand their objectives — or their purpose for being in the store — to make it easier for retailers to meet their needs and provide unique shopping experiences. Based on previous in-store shopping behavior or experiences, retailers can predict a shopper’s intentions.

Combining a 360-degree camera to monitor shoppers’ movements with video analytics helps retailers track gender, ages and number of visitors in their locations. This data enables stores to manage staff better, making sure the proper number of associates are on hand during peak traffic times.. Checkout how we enabled Becker’s Central Canada (Couche-Tard, Inc.) store owners to see up to-the-minute sales information for smarter product ordering and overall improved store efficiency.

NEC is working on a solutions to take store analystics a step further, by tyingdemographic data to POS transactions to allow retailers to better understand the kinds of customers they’re serving and what products are purchased. This information improves merchandising, store operations and customer interactions, such as determining which product displays appear to be most effective and which areas of the store experience the most traffic.Retailers can also use heat mapping to track a customer’s product engagement and “dwell times” at a particular display or locations in the store.

Improving the Omnichannel Experience

Consumers tend to want a combination of technology and human interaction while shopping. Research shows that many purchases begin with online browsing, followed by an in-store interaction. Improving a seamless omnichannel purchasing experience is one way traditional retailers can connect with their customers. In-store associates can provide more personalized service by knowing preferences through browsing history and offering convenient payment options.

Get a closer look at the Connected Consumer with this Infographic:

Cashless AND Card-less Payment Options

Easier payment processes are another important component of a seamless customer experience. One of the advantages of online shopping is easy check-out. As retailers turn to new methods of accepting and processing payments, the concept of waiting in a check-out line to pay may become obsolete.

Check out NEC’s mobile POS solutions

NEC’s facial recognition technology, can take it a step further toward eliminating not only cash payments, but even credit cards. Your own face becomes your currency. Payment through facial recognition offers several advantages. Authentication using facial images helps reduce potential fraudulent payments (added security) and eliminates the need to carry multiple forms of ID (more convenience). Since facial data is stored in numerical data, it’s difficult or even impossible for a data thief to actually the identify the faces. Additionally, facial recognition information can be stored in a way to make it accessible at a retailer’s multiple locations around the country.

Another shopping option uses an interactive projection system to enabling ordering, research or payment without a physical device being present. This is a perfect solution for restaurant tabletops or counters in hotel lobbies.

Future of Retailing

With increased consumer confidence, shoppers will continue to spend, both online and in store. In the near term, high-tech solutions will improve supply chain efficiency. Artificial-intelligence-powered chatbots and faster checkout through improved POS and other mobile devices will continue to improve the shopping experience.

To remain a viable option for shoppers, traditional retailers must continue to use technology to gain a deeper understanding of their customers’ preferences and shopping habits to provide a seamless, enjoyable in-store experience for their customers.

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Enriching the Customer Experience

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