NEC Enhances STEM Initiatives with Its Educational Offering

We live in an age of wonder where technological advances have made our everyday lives resemble science fiction movies from just a few years ago. What seemed fantastical then has become commonplace – and technological revolutions continue to occur at a rapid pace.

However, according to the U.S. Department of Education, only 16 percent of high school students are interested in or preparing for a technology–focused career, such as engineering or computer science.

Many schools are hoping to reverse this trend by instituting a STEM curriculum, which is a focus on the disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math.

NEC hopes to contribute to this reversal by supporting STEM initiatives. Recently, the NEC Foundation of America endowed $250,000 to the STEM program of the Irma Rangel Young Women’s Leadership School.

NEC also supports STEM curriculums through its educational platform that is designed to align with any school’s STEM initiative.

“NEC’s STEM education offering, CCM Education powered by an organization called PassTheNotes (PTN), directly supports the federal strategic plan of STEM,” said Gregg Alvarez, education vertical practice manager at NEC Corporation of America. “Teachers and students have the ability to upload content. They can make it searchable and tag it to national standards, state standards, keywords, and a particular topic. It creates an interactive content repository that drives toward an enhanced educational experience. And the benefit of being a cloud-based offering is that students don’t necessarily have to be in school to have access to all the material and content they need for their projects and lessons.”

Today’s classrooms are evolving as quickly as the rest of the world. Concepts like STEM and teaching approaches such as project-based learning are transforming the traditionally rigid view of learning one subject at a time into a more cohesive learning experience.

“For example,” said Alvarez, “let’s say there’s news in Florida about a 16-foot, 800-pound alligator that was caught. A teacher can build off this news by creating a project on the ecosystem and environments of the Florida alligator. Through the CCM Education platform, students can reach out to educational websites and YouTube.edu to pull in specific, relevant content. However, they can go further and conference in a field researcher that was involved with the team that captured the large predator. This creates a community where students and working scientists and researchers can connect and engage. It obliterates the question of, ‘Where will I ever use this?’ because students get invested in real-world applications of science and technology.”

Naturally, an essential component is a teacher that is able to use technology and STEM concepts to engage and motivate students. That’s why STEM initiatives focus on preparing teachers to succeed in this new learning environment. NEC’s offering provides platforms and communication features to support STEM teachers in both their classroom preparation and professional development.

“Research shows that top performing teachers make a difference in the student’s academic success,” said Alvarez. “Achievement gaps narrow significantly for students who learn from these teachers year after year. That’s why our CCM education solution enables teachers to design content, create assessments that can be aligned to standards, and really encourage student collaboration and interaction between social learning features.”

In addition, teachers, administrators, and parents can rest assured that NEC’s educational platform delivers a safe learning environment for every student, including adherence to the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

“All content that students can access in the classroom is secure,” said Alvarez. “Teachers and administrators can denote elements that can be accessed. They have total digital rights management and total control of content. Students cannot pull material in from unauthorized websites. Our offering supports all the FERPA standards and has 256 SSL encryption to ensure the safety and security of the users in the environment.”

The ability to collaborate and work on projects as a team is essential in today’s workplace. STEM initiatives provide students with skillsets they will use as they move through school and ultimately in the job force.

“Students today are so tech savvy,” said Alvarez, “that maximizing their educational experience by giving them an equally tech savvy learning environment that incorporates real-world events and habits they are used to, such as social media and social sharing, provides them with the best chance moving forward.”

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.

Free eBook: Achieving Higher Availability in UC

Decisions based by expert insight increase the probability of more successful outcomes.  This is why we at NEC are pleased to offer you Achieving High Availability In UC, an informative ebook/white paper by communications and security consultant Gary Audin, president of Delta, Inc.

 

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NEC at Enterprise Connect 2016

Enterprise Connect always attracts technology innovators and creative disruptors in cloud solutions (UCaaS, IaaS, CCaaS, etc.), Unified Communications, the Internet of Things and more. This year’s event was again abuzz with powerful keynote presentations, lively panel discussions, and distinctive product demonstrations and exhibits. As a proud platinum sponsor, NEC helped attendees “Discover the Power of SMART Enterprise”, attracting an impressive crowd to our booth and winning a prestigious award for the second year in a row.

Ram Menghani - Enterprise Connect 2016“Last year, we introduced our Smart Enterprise approach to helping companies work more efficiently,” said Ram Menghani, vice president of product management and development, NEC North America. “This year, we demonstrated how our Smart Enterprise solutions are making a difference in all parts of our customers’ organizations, from the reception area and data center, through other areas like customer care centers and conference rooms, along with mobility solutions that enable seamless communications from any location.”

Showcasing the SMART Enterprise

On the show floor, visitors enjoyed a tour of the SMART Enterprise. Our display represented different departments within a company, highlighting how NEC solutions, such as UNIVERGE 3C and UNIVERGE BLUE, help unite every area of a business.

Examples of what visitors experienced:

  • Our SMART Receptionist, a touch-screen that allows someone to work remotely while managing the lobby, greeted guests in the reception area. Security protocols then went into effect as visitors were screened by one of our biometrics solutions.
  • A jaunt to the SMART Conference Room allowed visitors to work at individual stations, such as laptops or tablets, while seamlessly sharing information (even across several rooms or locations).
  • The SMART Customer Care Center displayed how UNIVERGE BLUE’s multi-channel interaction – voice, email, chat, video and voicemail, remote agent support, and analytics in the cloud – improves customer service and productivity.
  • The SMART Data Center showcased high availability infrastructure, including NEC’s unique Fault Tolerant servers that provide up to 99.999% uptime.

UNIVERGE BLUE Wins Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)/Hybrid RFP Award

Each year Enterprise Connect holds a mock request for proposal (RFP) session. Every vendor that submits a response is required to answer questions related to their solution’s architecture, features, and total cost of ownership over a five-year period.

NEC was awarded the highest overall score in the annual UCaaS/Hybrid mock RFP session for the second year in a row when NEC’s UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services UCaaS solution was selected as Top Cloud Solution with Lowest Total Cost Ownership.

“NEC has consistently ranked at or near the top in delivering value to its customers, said Menghani, “and the back-to-back, top-mark results from this mock RFP analysis further validates the value of an NEC solution.”

We’ll have a whitepaper of the 2016 results available soon. You can review the specifics of last year’s win by clicking here.

Session Speakers

NEC and its partners were featured speakers in several sessions throughout the week.

Menghani took part in the first general session of this year’s conference, the “UC Summit: Is the Path to UC Changing?”.

Watch video of the UC Summit

It was a lively panel featuring NEC and execs from Google, Cisco, Mitel, Microsoft, Avaya, and Unify.

“The communications market is changing aggressively,” Menghani said during the summit. “Having a combined infrastructure of UC and IT plays a very important role because they go hand and hand. It’s a wonderful benefit.”

Other featured speakers at this year’s Enterprise Connect included:

  • Gail Kasek, senior manager of SMB Product Management, hosting the breakout panel,  “Your Next Endpoint Deployment: Getting to Specs and Costs”
  • Kurt Jacobs, director of Internet of Things solutions at NEC Enterprise Communication Technologies, featured in the panel, “Disruptor Panel: Internet of Things and Enterprise Communications: Is Convergence Coming?”
  • NEC customer Steve Molander, chief information officer of Frandsen Financial Corporation, as a panelist for the “Driving End User Adoption for UC” session
  • NEC customer Roger Bruszewski, vice president for finance and administration at Millersville University of Pennsylvania, featured in the “EC Summit: Is There a New Model for Enterprise Communications and Collaboration?”

“When looking for an enterprise communication solution,” Bruszewski said to his audience, “there are plenty of vendors out there. However, you don’t want just a vendor. You want to find a partner who will take time to understand your needs and thoughtfully integrate their solutions within your company.”

Thank you to everyone who visited us during Enterprise Connect 2016 – our customers, partners, consultants, analysts, and media. We look forward to connecting with you again next year as we continue to evolve the SMART Enterprise.

Keeping Up with the Flow

Reliable technology important to 24×7 business continuity at Fairfield Suisun Sewer District

For the most part, we don’t give a second thought when we turn on a faucet in our homes to get a glass of water or brush our teeth. We’ve come to expect a steady, clean flow of water to be available whenever and wherever we need it. However, if recent events in places such as Flint, MI, have taught us anything, it’s that a safe, reliable source of water for our homes, businesses and industries shouldn’t be taken for granted.

In central Solano County, CA, located 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, the Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District (FSSD) takes it mission of treating and supplying water to its consumers very seriously. Every day, the FSSD plant treats an average 16 million gallons of wastewater and provides water supplies to more than 135,000 residents, Travis Air Force Base and a national brewery, as well as retail businesses, light industries and manufacturers in and around Fairfield and Suisun City. With so many relying on its services, the plant can’t allow unreliable technology to cause down time.

Talyon Sortor, assistant general manager at FSSD, understands all too well how critical it is to make sure the treatment facility runs smoothly 24×7 and doesn’t experience any down time. The treatment plant, which sits on 150 acres, draws from a collection system made up of 12 pumping stations and 70-mile network of sewers throughout its service area. Reliable technology is critical to efficiently managing the operations of this large and complex operation.

Under state and federal laws, urbanized communities are required to collect and treat domestic and industrial wastes, and proper water treatment processes are an essential element to public health. The FSSD also has responsibility for protecting the environmentally sensitive Suisun Marsh, the nation’s largest brackish water marsh and the Pacific Coast’s largest wetland. Since waste water treatment systems are heavily regulated by both state and federal agencies, technology also plays an important role in recording information that demonstrates that the FSSD is in compliance at all times.

According to Sortor, any server failures or other technology issues that could affect service delivery within the plant are scrutinized by regulators. In 2015 (CK DATE) the FSSD engaged nDataStor, a long-time NEC reseller partner based in Suisun City, CA, to provide managed services for its facility. nDataStor took over the data center, which consisted of a collection of legacy hardware. But after a few server failures and a couple of long nights, the district decided it needed to upgrade its technology. Downtime costs the plant money and increases potential compliance risks, so being able to count on the technology was critical.
Drawing on its decade-long relationship with NEC and knowledge of the reliability of NEC hardware, nDataStor recommended replacing the legacy hardware with NEC products. nDataStor installed NEC’s Express5800/R120f-1M servers and M110 SAN Disk Array Storage.

Being able to count on its technology to run the plant provides the FSSD with the peace of mind of knowing that operations can be managed and monitored effectively around the clock from a centralized location, ensuring business continuity and an effective disaster recovery process. Staff at the control center are able to remotely respond to perimeter alarms, monitor the pump stations located across the county, and view captured security video throughout the complex.

As FSSD discovered, the total package of NEC technology combined with world-class support gives the district the reliability it needs to keep its operations running 24×7. And that means that the residents in Solano County can count on a steady supply of clean, safe water in their communities.