Our 32nd Annual AFIS Internet Users Conference, held in Reston, VA, was a highly successful event. It brought together professionals from around the globe, and with its proximity to our nation’s capital, we were pleased to host a number of our Federal clients as well. Together, we explored opportunities and issues impacting the public safety and law enforcement community in the near and long term future. In this time of digital transformation, attendees learned more about new techniques in forensics, experienced the latest in identification technology solutions, and how biometrics and AI can help provide a more secure, convenient and frictionless experiences for all of us.
Our keynote speaker, none other than Secretary Tom Ridge, the First Secretary of U.S. Department of Homeland Security and former Governor of Pennsylvania, kicked off the three-day event discussing the evolution of our country’s security profile, the role technology plays in securing our borders, and the trends impacting local, regional and state public safety officers and investigators.
In parallel, NEC showcased its latest identification technologies that are helping federal, state and local agencies with new ways to solve crimes, predict threats, capture data, improve public safety and security. Some of the highlights include:
Interactive expertly guided tenprint workshops with hands-on experience with NEC’s Integra-ID® iBW, the latest in fingerprint technology processing
eGate Solution for Airport and NeoFace® Express showed how frictionless identification can simplify and enhance a passengers experience while increasing security
NEC Enhanced Video Analytics (EVA) represents the latest biometric and video analytics technology allowing for instant detection, identification and tracking of suspicious individuals in a crowd
NeoFace® Reveal and SmartScan 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 tenprint identification work
One of the highlights of the conference is the opportunity to network and socialize with other like-minded professionals who are facing the same issues and daily challenges. The Winery at Bull Run was a unique venue that provided a fun atmosphere of comradery for our two groups!
The conference closed with the 2018 AFIS Awards Banquet. This was a time to recognize the newly elected AFIS Internet, Inc. Executive Board and to honor recipients of the AFIS Internet 2018 “Biometric Hit of the Year Award.” Deputy Norman Kandil with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office was recognized for his use of the new Facial Recognition program on a theft case that not only resulted in the arrest of the unknown suspect; it also took the Detective down an unknown path that ultimately lead to the conviction and sentencing of two additional suspects. Hector Hernandez with the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office received the award for his work as a Latent Print Examiner on a human smuggling transport case resulting in the death of 10 immigrants. Other agencies were unable to identify the tenth victim, but Hector was able to get an impressive Print (Finger) hit to positively identify the last victim. Congratulations to all, with our sincere gratitude for your service!
I would like to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the AFIS Internet Board and our host agencies, the Virginia State Police and the Virginia Department of Forensic Science, for their dedication and tireless efforts in organizing this conference.
This year’s AFIS Executive Board, Host Agencies and volunteers did a fantastic job of providing relevant topics, with outstanding speakers who engaged, educated and inspired us.
We now look forward to 2019 and hope you will plan to join us next August 25-28 in Scottsdale, AZ. Meanwhile, you can check out or relive the excitement by viewing our photo gallery or our AFIS 2018 recap video.
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Learn why pulling the plug doesn’t stop streaming with the Wowza ClearCaster appliance.
Recently, I was supporting our CEO, Dave Stubenvoll, by providing an onsite customer demonstration of the Wowza ClearCaster™ appliance. Suddenly, right in the middle of our session, Dave intentionally pulled the 120-volt power cord from the unit.
While maintaining composure, on the inside, I was freaking out! In my mind, I screamed, “Dave, why would you do that?!”
What I didn’t yet realize was that the Wowza ClearCaster device is designed to automatically resume streaming when power is restored. This incident, while terrifying, actually showcased the resiliency of our ClearCaster hardware, and how it can consistently recover from a power outage.
The Fault-Tolerant Server Keeps Going, and Going…
In most instances, removing power—or disrupting a physical server in any capacity—is a very bad idea. Candidly, even having witnessed the ability of our branded hardware to recover from loss of power, the idea of showing that off in an on-site demo makes me a little nervous. Most of us in the industry shy away from “messing around” with a server once it’s up and running.
It sounded like a great idea, but I wasn’t sold. Prior to working with ClearCaster, I’ve worked with people all over the world, in every aspect of the industry, and have never encountered a situation where a media server could be compromised, yet “keep on going.”
Video streaming is complex and resource-intensive. The thought of a server maintaining a transcoding and packaging workflow—to a maximum scale—while losing a hard disk, power supply or motherboard component sounded very far-fetched to me. But then again, Richie is a stand-up guy, and I realized he may be onto something.
I agreed to meet with Richie and his team to help them set up a test server. We established a simple transcoding workflow, using Wowza Streaming Engine™ media server software, and commenced testing the fault-tolerance of their device.
The NEC Express 5800 fault-tolerant server is a 2RU device that is essentially two servers in one box. Every component of the device is perfectly replicated by a accompanying, redundant spare, resulting in two functioning, logical sections that operate as one. Interestingly, there’s no advanced configuration required, since it looks and feels like a single server—with the key difference that you can physically remove half of the server hardware while your video streaming workflow is running, and it doesn’t skip a beat.
Impressed, but not convinced, I decided to up up the ante. I thought perhaps we got lucky with the fault-tolerant server handing a simple single-stream workflow; what will it do under a “real” video-streaming workload?
Requesting time on the server, I scheduled another session to configure several internal source streams using the Wowza StreamPublisher. I also made sure the central processing unit (CPU), network and memory were all up to around 80 percent utilization, tasked with recording (MP4 and nDVR), heavy transcoding, and HTTP packaging into HLS and DASH. With the server under heavy load, I called Richie (snickering to myself) and asked him to compromise the device.
It didn’t skip a beat.
Redundant Streaming Workflows, Simplified
I don’t know how they did it, but NEC has built a device that will, in my opinion, function as an optimal solution to bolster an on-premise media server deployment where a single point of failure is a risk. Having helped countless Wowza users design redundant workflows, this architecture is perfect for a situation when multiple servers are not practical, but where a redundant server is required.
What I like even more about this is the simplicity. The setup is exactly the same as a single server, but again, with the fault-tolerance engineered into the hardware itself.
If you’re considering an on-premise deployment; have concern over a single-server point of failure; and don’t have the experience, time or resources to build out an elaborate failover workflow, consider the NEC solution, available from a Bridge Digital. Installing Wowza Streaming Engine was simple, and the outcome was exactly as expected.
With plenty of resources for a standard streaming deployment, this is a fantastic hardware solution. Take it from me: I tried really hard to break it, using all the Wowza tricks in the book, and I failed miserably. Can’t ask for much more than that!
Tim Dougherty is the Director of Solution Engineering at Wowza Media Systems, based in Golden, Colo. A user technology expert, with more than 20 years of experience in IT, network administration, video production, and project/program management, Tim serves Wowza by helping customers visualize and integrate effective streaming media solutions.
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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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Fans crowd into stadiums to enjoy their favorites – from music to theatre to sports. The venue is expected to provide a secure, positive experience. If not, the damage to the tour, the sports club or the venue can be undeniable. According to the 2017 J.D. Power Fan Experience survey, fans are looking for the venues and teams that will offer them the best fan experience for their dollar.
The study has identified 10 key performance indicators (KPIs) that drive fan loyalty and satisfaction. When stadiums and teams rank well and all 10 KPIs are met, spending is directly impacted, often increasing as much as 90%.
Fans are asked to evaluate their experience based on:
Venues and teams want to give their fans a positive, memorable experience, exceptional customer service and security, even among thousands of other fans. Facial recognition could create a more effortless and exciting fan experience.
With facial recognition and a unified biometric key, a frictionless and personalized fan experience can increase loyalty and spending.
Unified Biometric Key Personalizes the Fan Experience
Retail is not the only market that seeks to build customer loyalty. Advanced recognition technology allows each individual to use their face as a unified biometric key to build a frictionless and personalized fan experience. A unified biometric key can help stadium staff provide better customer service through:
Fans judge their stadium and team experience by the amount of time waiting in line at an arena. When an individual has to stand in line to enter the venue, purchase concessions or merchandise, they become frustrated while missing out on the event they came to see. With advanced recognition systems, a fan’s face is the unified biometric key to unlocking the door to a more positive experience.
Facial recognition creates frictionless event entry, reduces queues and allows fans to “pay with their face.” Intelligent customized displays can make suggestions in the concession or souvenir area dependent on previous fan activity. “Facial loyalty” through self-ordering kiosks can also make recommendations based on past food orders for faster decision-making. Guests can then pick up the item and pay for it, often without pulling out a wallet, in one quick encounter.
Watch: Benefits of Face-Based Loyalty Program in Restaurants
Get VIP Treatment
After loyal fans have been identified in the facial recognition system and created their own unified biometric key, stadium sales staff and ushers will be able to provide true VIP treatment. The season-ticket holder, for example, can be welcomed at the season ticket door, allowed entrance into VIP clubs, provided with birthday or anniversary greetings or otherwise treated with familiarity. Guest services will be able to quickly locate a dedicated fan who spends thousands of dollars at the venue and offer them a preferential personalized experience.
Fans can also include their family in the VIP experience. Paying by face, for example, can be extended to family members who wish to be included on the same credit card. With a unified biometric key, guest services can create differentiation in the fan experience.
See how Your Face Makes the Food Ordering Experience Easier
Build Loyalty with 5 Star Service… Even When the Team is Losing
Because the fan experience matters, the unique unified biometric key can be used to build fan loyalty— even when their favorite team is losing. Some stadiums are already experimenting with facial recognition as a unified biometric key, creating a positive, frictionless fan experience. Analytics captured by the advanced recognition technology allows the stadium to target marketing messages and raise alerts based upon previous encounters with the fan.
As an award-winning leading facial recognition provider for four consecutive years, NEC’s facial recognition technology has achieved the highest performance evaluation from the U.S. National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) by:
Recognizing one individual walking in a crowd without stopping
Speed and accurate matching to photos in a database
NEC’s NeoFace® Express is the industry standard for using facial recognition to transform any hospitality experience that involves large groups of people. Adding NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems to the existing venue security system allows fans a #1 secure, positive and personalized experience.
Personalizing the Customer Experience with a Unified Biometric Key
The path to a frictionless, personalized customer experience begins with something unique and individual—your face. Using facial recognition technology, a single unified biometric keyenables a seamless experience as you move through an environment, whether it’s a sports stadium, entertainment facility, airport, hotel or casino. Facial recognition technology is the key that unlocks a contactless customer experience in a wide range of venues and situations. What could be more convenient or more secure?
Recent developments in facial recognition solutions are not only enhancing security in airports, stadiums or hospitality locations, but also making access to public spaces more convenient, effortless and personal for patrons. Today, consumers are enjoying the speed and security of unlocking their phones using facial recognition, without the bother of passcodes. These demonstrable user benefits have made face-driven technology more common and acceptable as a secure and time-saving part of our day.
Increasingly, consumers are looking for this same easy, contactless and convenient experience in other areas of their daily lives. Benefits of biometric technology are applicable to other situations that require secure access and easy transactions. Here are a just few ways NEC, a leading global provider of Advance Recognition Systems technology, is changing today’s customer experience through facial recognition.
Everything from dropping your car off in a parking garage, entering the gate, purchasing concessions or swooping into a VIP suite is made easier by using a unified biometric key as a virtual parking pass, wallet and secure entry ticket. Guests no longer need to juggle parking permits, paper tickets, cash or credit cards. They don’t even have to remember where they stored their electronic tickets or try to recall app passcodes or loyalty numbers. Best of all, no more waiting in long, annoying lines. Let’s be honest, who wants to wait 20 minutes just to buy a water at the concessions?
Personalizing the Customer Experience Yields Positive Results
From the point of view of a sports venue, hotel or theme park, facial recognition solutions enhance the customer experience and can have a positive impact on the bottom line as well. Some examples include:
Providing concierge alerts when a VIP enters a facility
Enhancing guest services protocols
Providing crowd density estimates to allocate staff more efficiently
Offering opportunities for personalized sales and services on site
A single unified biometric key triggers concierge alerts when a VIP enters a hotel or casino, prompting enhanced guest services and special offers to the valued patron. Front-desk staff can greet returning loyalty guests by name, further personalizing the check-in experience.
Stadium VIP patrons enter suites seamlessly using facial recognition. Enhanced services are delivered in a more personalized way. Theme parks quickly admit season pass patrons through the gates using facial recognition, with the ability to provide special offers and services geared to loyal guests. Often the technology can be integrated with and deployed using existing venue systems, making the installation an even easier, more cost effective situation.
Since customers’ purchasing during an event is faster using a single unified biometric key, this increases the number of transactions that can be processed in the finite duration of an event. Not having to bother with cash or credit cards speeds up purchases and enables staff to serve more customers more quickly.
Facial recognition technology also captures crowd estimates at venue entrances, concession areas, hotel lobbies or retail areas so additional staff can be deployed immediately where they are most needed.
On-site offers can enhance the customer experience. Facility managers don’t really know who is attending a sporting event or musical performance. They know who bought a ticket, but not much information about the purchaser. Facial recognition provides real-time demographic data about attendees or guests to enable a venue to further shape the customer experience with on-the-spot offers and services.
For instance, if a stadium has facial recognition data that shows it has a large percentage of young men ages 21-29 in attendance for an event, it can prepare by stocking more beer at the concession stands, or change the advertising on retail shop displays to appeal to this demographic, or even alter music choices in the common areas.
Marketing partners and sponsors are able to curate offers in real time to appeal to a certain type of guest—enhancing the customer experience and positively affecting brand recognition and potential sales as well.
Transforming Transportation Processes
Stadiums, theme parks and hotels are not the only facilities being transformed into more efficient and secure places. The transportation industry is also seeing new uses for NEC’s facial recognition technology, considered to be the world’s best in search speed and accuracy according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).Transportation should be about getting to your destination quickly and with as few problems as possible.
Today’s airports are busier, more congested and more stressful than ever. According to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, more than 821 million passengers boarded U.S. airline flights in 2016—and with the demand for air travel expected to double over the next 20 years, this will certainly make for some very crowded airports.
In the United States, facial recognition technology is being tested to permit passengers to board flights quickly, and also for fast access to airline lounges. Since the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency started testing NEC’s NeoFace® Express facial recognition solution in U.S. airports in 2016, it has registered a success rate of close to 99%. Other airport-related potential uses of a single unified biometric key include: passenger check-in counters, bag drops, in-airport entertainment, boarding, retail and monitoring baggage claim areas.
The cruise ship industry is finding that a single unified biometric key can be used for everything from terminal queue management and effortless check-in to frictionless embarkation and debarkation, and for seamless payments and onboard purchasing.
Enhancing Security Through Technology
Security concerns have invaded almost all aspects of our lives in recent years—from travel to entertainment and sporting venues to retail spaces. Unfortunately, when people gather in public places, there is automatically the awareness of an increased threat, forcing security concerns to be uppermost in our minds.
Our reality is the tension between the heightened focus on keeping public places safe while not having a negative effect on the actual customer experience. The ability to create an excellent customer experience requires balancing both efficiency and security. Authorities responsible for the safety of public places are extremely concerned, and debates over how best to address security concerns are ongoing. At the same time, increased usage of facial recognition in consumer products is making the technology more acceptable as consumers recognize the convenience it provides: frictionless, personalized and secure experiences.
Solutions that combine surveillance cameras with facial recognition software can elevate the level of public security in airports, stadiums and other public places. Also, enterprises can ensure only authorized personnel have access to their facilities, while retailers and sports and entertainment venues can secure their facilities and protect their customers.
Changing the ‘Face’ of the Customer Experience
Deploying a single unified biometric key based on facial recognition technology helps deliver a superior guest experience. Our unique face is rapidly becoming the universal key to replacing our usernames, passwords, paper tickets, parking permits, payment options and even more.
Whether at a stadium or a major transportation facility, NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems solutions are at the forefront of reinventing the customer journey by melding the optimal combination of convenience and security.