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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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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Was your business affected by one of the recent storms or fires? Please let us know by filling out the form, and we’ll contact you.

 

 



UC M&A Activity Further Validates NEC’s Smart Enterprise Strategy

Seems like every time I read about what’s happening in the marketplace, I learn that there’s another merger or buy-out happening in the enterprise communications space. Mitel announced recently it is acquiring rival ShoreTel, reportedly to accelerate its “move-to-the-cloud” strategy. This acquisition, along with other recent moves by Avaya and Toshiba, only reinforces my belief in NEC’s strategy for the Smart Enterprise.

NEC’s long history and innovation heritage means we are much more than just a voice and UC company – we are a true enterprise technology pioneer with roots dating back more than 50 years in the United States and over 118 years in Japan.

In developing our wide range of technologies and services, we strive to build solutions that will address specific business needs and challenges by driving safety, security and operational efficiency. These solutions, when integrated and combined in various scenarios, form our portfolio for the Smart Enterprise – our definitive technology strategy for NEC’s vision of the future.

Want advice on how to enrich your customer experience?But let’s get back to the cloud, and more specifically, Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). NEC has developed a wide range of unified communications (UC) solutions that can be deployed in the cloud, on-premises or in a hybrid scenario.   For starters, NEC has a strong UCaaS offering called UNIVERGE BLUE Business Cloud Services. UNIVERGE BLUE allows a business to host all or just some of its UC in the cloud.  We also offer the UNIVERGE SV9100 BLUE solution, which is a full phone and UC system deployed on premises with no large up-front investment.   The cloud allows us to offer SV9100 BLUE as an operating expense with a single bill for hardware and service.  All of this is offered today through our extensive channel partner network.

Our portfolio also includes Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), software defined networking (SDN), data center technologies, Unified Communications (on-premises, cloud and hybrid), biometrics, analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) and Artificial Intelligence solutions. With a world-class network of Channel Partners and as a direct solutions integrator, we can deploy these solutions globally. Here in the U.S., we also have NEC Financial Services which delivers tailored leasing structures of extraordinary flexibility to customers nationwide.

Additionally, we are discovering new and innovative ways to utilize our biometrics solutions by integrating them with our other solutions. For instance, we have developed a virtual receptionist solution that integrates one of our biometrics applications with our Android™-based touch-screen UT880 telephone. The telephone can be placed in the lobby area and a remote worker is able to greet visitors and then screen them through our NeoFace Watch facial recognition application.

Don’t just take my word for it, the Boston Consulting Group named NEC as one of its 50 Most Innovative Companies and Frost & Sullivan recently honored NEC with their 2016 North America Frost & Sullivan Company of the Year Award for our market approach for the Smart Enterprise by stating, “NEC’s Smart Enterprise initiative is providing holistic enterprise communications transformation options that help customers adapt and flourish in the face of complex challenges.”

While the technology world is ever-changing, one thing that you can count on is NEC and our solutions for Smart Enterprise. We have demonstrated over the years our long-term commitment to our customers and to understanding their unique needs as well as their particular vertical industries. If you are ready to learn more about our solutions for Smart Enterprise and how they can help you optimize your business, please contact NEC today for a free consultation.

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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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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.