NEC Partners with NSHOF, FC Dallas and Frisco ISD to introduce the STEAM FC Experience for Middle School Students

I was pleased to attend the recent launch of STEAM FC presented by NEC, an innovative educational program developed in partnership with Frisco Independent School District (FISD), the National Soccer Hall of Fame (NSHOF) and FC Dallas at their headquarters in Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas. This program’s name and its focus is all about introducing FISD sixth graders – in its first phase – to the many ways Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) can be applied using professional soccer and stadium management as its core.

In addition to my duties with NEC Corporation of America, I’m also the head of the NEC Foundation, which is focused on delivering social value in the communities where our employees live and work – one of these values being Education. Frisco ISD, developed the curriculum to creatively connect science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics to the business world in ways most kids don’t see these disciplines today.

STEAM FC is truly an innovative learning initiative. Participating students experience classroom problem-solving and brainstorming sessions, tour the National Soccer Hall of Fame (NSHOF) — with its gesture technology, virtual reality and cutting-edge facial recognition technology from NEC. They get active in the Movement Lab, learning how athletes use science to reach peak performance. Components of the Toyota Stadium Tour also will include learning how marketing works, how the electrical system works, how the grass on the soccer field grows and is maintained; essentially, STEAM FC curriculum incorporates the business and the combined STEAM skills involved in running a pro soccer team at this specialized venue.

At NEC, we believe in giving all kids, but especially girls and economically disadvantaged children, unique access to STEAM initiatives in the hope it sparks inspiration and passion and the possibility that more of these underrepresented groups will enter STEAM professions. Diversifying the talent pool for STEAM jobs can only improve our worldwide competitiveness.

For more details about STEAM FC field trips, you can visit the FC Dallas STEAMFC web page.

Be Prepared When Ransomware Attacks Strike

While ransomware attacks are certainly nothing new, a recent report indicates that such incidents have increased more than 360% year-over-year in the first half of 2019. In addition to businesses and individuals, more and more cyberattacks are targeting local governments in several states, including  Maryland, Michigan, Florida, Indiana and the recent attacks on 23 Texas towns.

These attacks not only cause disruptions and inconvenience, but cost millions in recovery and restoration efforts, loss of revenue, decreased productivity and reduced levels of customer service. Ransomware and other cyberattacks will probably never be eliminated completely, but organizations can mitigate the negative effects of an attack and be prepared before one occurs.

Being Prepared Before an Attack

Here are a few recommended steps that businesses and other organizations should consider before and after an attack.

  • With the help of a security expert, conduct a “health check” on your systems to identify any vulnerabilities. Consider both external attacks as well as internal breaches (intentional or not).
  • Keep backup data off premise, both physically and logically away from production data.
  • Ensure that all systems used for backing up data have the latest software patches, follow protocols and can detect ransomware.
  • Reduce the complexity of having multiple systems by consolidating backup data from all systems—disaster recovery, applications and cloud systems.

Education and communication also play an important part in cyberattacks. Makes sure all end users are educated about security protocols, including not falling for spoofing attacks. If a ransomware or other attack does occur, communication with all stakeholders—employees, partners and customers—is a critical step. Mitigating anxiety and alleviating fear through ongoing communication help make things go more smoothly during the recovery process.

Once an attack occurs, acting quickly will be critical as well. Hire a professional with experience to help you make the right business decisions regarding recovery efforts based on the amount of time it will take, cost considerations and what losses are occurring.

Expertise in Data Backup and Recovery Solutions

NEC, with our experience and expertise in data backup, business continuity planning and recovery solutions, can be a powerful ally in mitigating risks prior to an attack and enabling faster recovery should an attack occur.

NEC delivers Backup as a Service (BaaS) by providing a suite of off-site data backup services. Our BaaS solutions range from ensuring that systems are up-to-date to providing secure targets, which can optionally move data to and from tape storage. Our staff is fully trained on a range of backup systems and can ensure that data is backed up locally and off-premise.

As the first technology infrastructure provider to join Iron Mountain’s Data Center Marketplace, we offer protection and accessibility through infrastructure built to our specifications and made available at Iron Mountain’s secure, compliant and energy efficient above-ground and underground data centers.

In order to optimally address a wide range of customer requirements, NEC offers a suite of BaaS deployment options:

  • Customers with data stored in public clouds, and with highly dispersed systems, often require a fully managed backup solution, with backups performed at the application and bare metal/VM level. Once notified of a ransomware attack, it’s important to scan backups to detect any malware (not just ransomware) so that the system will not be re-infected when restoring from backups prior to the incident. Examining ransomware-encrypted data upfront will help prevent overwriting old “clean” data inside the backup. NEC uses industry leading agents to isolate and not transfer ransomware-encrypted data from any client/server locations. This action is performed to ensure data integrity prior to storage and to alert customers of any intrusion.
  • NEC also provides physical and virtual backup appliances deployed on premise for customers with: a requirement for local storage; a large amount of servers or data and a need for a fully managed backup solution. Through this option, application and bare metal/VM-level backups are stored locally and analyzed for ransomware prior to deduplication, compression, encryption and secure transmission to NEC.
  • Other customers use their own backup software and have strict backup time windows that require the highest performance data backup ingestion. For them, NEC offers an upgraded BaaS Appliance using our HYDRAstor platform. This platform provides the highest ingestion and deduplication performance and delivers highly secure replication to NEC HYDRAstor systems located at Iron Mountain. NEC offers ransomware detection services based on the customer’s specific policies and landscape.
  • For customers that use their own backup software, but don’t require high performance, NEC offers the HYDRAstor Virtual Appliance (HSVA). The HSVA runs in a virtual machine and acts as a backup target for a customer’s own infrastructure. It deduplicates using localized NEC HYDRAstor technology before encrypting data for transfer to NEC HYDRAstor at Iron Mountain. NEC offers ransomware detection services based on the client’s specific policies and landscape.
  • Sometimes customers prefer to push data to tape using industry standards. NEC, in collaboration with Iron Mountain, offers tape restoration and long-term retention services for all the services listed above.

Providing Protection from Both Outside and Inside Threats

Dedicated NEC-based infrastructure is built according to best practices for redundancy and security. Ensuring that data backup systems and storage are off site reduces access to these critical systems by both hackers and insiders. For a reasonable monthly fee, NEC offers low total-cost-of-ownership BaaS that provides:

  • Industry Leading Backup Agents
  • Secure off-site data storage
  • Disaster recovery for 24/7 business continuity
  • Value Added Services
  • On-Premise Appliance Options

For a complimentary Backup Assessment, fill out the form below.

Learn more about NEC’s back up, recovery and business continuity offerings and download the white paper.

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NEC Building Community Through Service

NEC Corporation of America (NEC) has been a sponsor of Herbert Marcus Elementary in Dallas, TX for the past three years. The involvement of NEC and the volunteer efforts of NEC employees, has made a tremendous difference at this school. Last year the school moved into a “Breakthrough Campus” category in the Dallas Independent School District and, according to the Principal Jonatan Romero, NEC played a big part in this transformation.

As one of our projects this year, NEC decided to “Stock the School” with supplies for each teacher. Unfortunately, many teachers have a financial burden of out-of-pocket costs to supply their students with basic supplies. NEC wanted to help ease that burden for the 50+ teachers at Herbert Marcus by providing each teacher with a care package of basic school supplies such as: folders, pens, hand sanitizer, dry erase boards, markers, etc.

Quantifiable Impact:

  • Provided essential classroom supply kits for 46 classes – impacting up to 800 kids in these classrooms
  • Custom decorated 20+ clipboards to include in the classroom supply kits
  • Painted chalkboards in 3 classrooms
  • Assisted teachers move and set their classrooms
  • Painted and refreshed the health clinic
  • Painted and refreshed the Community Outreach room
  • Painted and brightened up the main stairway
  • Assisted 10 teachers with classroom décor and organization
  • Painted colorful and fun ceiling tiles for the Art room
  • Fresh coat of paint in a large multi-purpose classroom
  • Hand wrote 46 Thank You notes to every teacher in the school to start their new year with motivation
  • Purchase of a much needed projector and screen for the auditorium
  • Purchase of new stage curtains for the auditorium

Stock the School at Herbert Marcus Elementary

NEC’s global branding statement is, “Orchestrating a brighter world.” NEC volunteers decided we could brighten up the school by adding a fresh coat of paint to the nurse’s clinic, stairways, and a few classrooms. The students spend a large part of their day in the school and adding a new coat of paint assisted in revitalizing areas for a refreshed and positive learning environment. Our goal was to ensure students and teachers walk into the classroom confident, empowered and prepared!

Facial Recognition: How Policy Can Catch Up to the Technology

Facial recognition (FR) stands at a critical point in its development.

The technology is racing forward and improving rapidly. Adoption of FR tools as a law enforcement asset is growing. It’s now commonly accessible by police agencies nationwide.

And beyond its original applications in the military, counter-terrorism and law enforcement, the technology is improving other sectors, such as aviation and travel, hospitality, healthcare, financial services and retail.

Yet public understanding of FR lags behind. And, driven by incorrect popular perceptions, public policies that would ban or over-regulate FR’s use seem ill-informed and out of step with present realities.

This poses a challenge to those of us committed to the success and propagation of FR: How can we ensure that public perception — and policymakers’ perception — of FR is better aligned with the technology’s value to society, and, specifically, to law enforcement?

Recently I had the privilege of moderating a blue-ribbon panel of FR leaders who assembled to tackle this precise question.

The panel convened for the 33rd Annual International Biometrics Association User Conference — formerly known as the AFIS Internet User Conference – in Scottsdale AZ.

“We’ve got to get better at helping policymakers understand the value and positive outcomes of this technology,” said Ashwini Jarral, executive director of the Integrated Justice Information Systems Institute, setting the tone for the discussion. “That way, we can go and fix these policies and laws.”

It was heartening to see our panelists rapidly establish a consensus around at least three themes:

Theme #1: Educate policymakers and the public on two key points: Propelled by misapprehensions, some municipalities have banned FR in law enforcement. Leveraging public education as a basic push-back strategy, the panel recommended two areas of focus:

First, the public isn’t distinguishing between FR as an investigative tool and as a surveillance tool. People need to understand that FR doesn’t mean constant video surveillance. It’s not “Big Brother,” rather it’s used for investigatory leads.

“Investigation and surveillance are two different things completely,” said Lt. Derek Sabatini of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. “Detroit and Chicago, for example, have large surveillance systems, but these systems don’t include live facial recognition. Facial recognition tools are only used for investigative purposes.”

Secondly, the public seems unaware of procedural safeguards already in place to regulate the use of FR.

“This is not the ‘Wild West,’” said Lt. Sabatini. “There are governance systems that mandate that you must have a right to know and a need to know before you can access that data. There are criminal penalties if you misuse that data.”

“People mistakenly think that sweeping and universally accessible databases are being freely shared between states and the federal government,” said Tovah LaDier, executive director of the International Biometrics + Identity Association. “In fact, states must give individual permission for the federal agencies to permit access.”

Existing federal legislation provides that states may enter into agreements with the FBI to provide state-level department of motor vehicle (DMV) database access, only for the specific purpose of assisting the FBI in fulfilling its law enforcement responsibilities.

Theme #2: Publicize FR’s positive track record: Popular fears of FR overreach are disproven by the technology’s excellent performance in law enforcement.

Lt. Sabatini told the conference that Los Angeles County has been using FR as an investigative resource since 2009, and deployed it in 11,000 cases last year alone. Yet the County has never faced a civil liberties court challenge charging abuse. He said that the New York Police Department had leveraged FR for 7,000 investigations last year, which had helped generate some 1,000 “legitimate arrests.”

Faith Contreras, the Facial Recognition Program Administrator for the Arizona Department of Transportation, pointed to successes in child trafficking and child smuggling. She said it’s also been used to investigate a range of cold cases and to identify unknown deceased individuals.
 
Theme #3: Embed governance capabilities within the technology: Panelists concurred that when it comes to protections relating to such matters as privacy and consent, the desired policy objectives have to actually be built into the technology.

“You can write policies all day long,” said Mr. Jarral. “But if you can’t demonstrate that your policies are actually embedded within the technology, you’re going to lose this battle.”


At the panel’s closing, Ms. LaDier affirmed her association’s commitment to the “transparent and secure use” of FR and related technologies. She also announced the forthcoming launch of a “responsibleid.org” site that would serve as an educational platform and a repository of “good news” about FR.

“Any technology can be used properly, and it can be abused,” she said. “Considering facial recognition’s enormous benefits, we cannot ban the technology. We have to do the hard work to regulate it so that it is used properly.”

Putting Dynamic Communications At The Center Of Business

Inaccessibility and non-responsiveness are no longer acceptable in today’s business environment.  It isn’t prudent in winning or retaining customer loyalty; it doesn’t foster internal teamwork; nor does it help in building a sustainable brand reputation.  Plus, from a technology perspective, there really isn’t an excuse for lengthy lags in responsiveness, productivity or collaboration.

Unified Communications (UC) with its integrated approach to advanced voice, mobility, messaging, video and audio collaboration and communications apps, enables organizations of all sizes to effectively manage the how, when and where of their connectivity.  Yet to create such an accessible and dynamic work environment, having the right foundation is essential.  A communications platform that is capable of reliably and quickly facilitating and right-sizing how, when and where regarding its accessibility across and beyond the enterprise.

NEC has been recognized by industry experts as having one of the highest levels of customer satisfaction among UC vendors and providing customer solutions with one of the lowest total cost of ownership in the market.  So what performance factors determine the company’s highly reliable and virtualized UC environments?



Operational & Service Scalability
Interoperability and accessibility are central to agile enterprise operations from an operational and customer service standpoint. Communications systems have to be dependable, sizable and adaptable. But they also must remain manageable. NEC’s UNIVERGE® SV9500 UC solution probably best illustrates how the company is meeting these requirements. Developed for larger and geographically dispersed organizations, this communications solution robustly supports voice, unified communications as well as unified messaging and it is all done from a single point of management. In spite of such broad capabilities, the SV9500 is among the simplest UC-capable systems to configure and integrates simply into existing IT technology as a fully interoperable IP or digital system. There is also a virtualized software model for those seeking more extensive competencies and a new SV9500SE model that brings the SV9500 and its many abilities to smaller-sized organizations.

When it comes to scaling customer service, it is all about meeting if not exceeding expectations. The UC Contact Center suite for the SV9500 exemplifies such front line attention through its fast and efficient handling of customer calls. Able to control high call volume using intelligent routing, inquiries get evenly distributed among contact agents to reduce hold time or can be skill-based to best match queries with the most appropriate representative. Additional agents can even quickly sign in during peaks or purges in caller activity to ensure optimal responsiveness. And to lessen the chance of call abandonment or caller frustration, options such as automated call back and queue announcements can keep those on the line engaged and provide them with control over how their call gets handled. With additional options such as chat, email or voice, callers can truly interact and get the information they need in the manner that they like best.

Collaborative & User Accessibility
Openness and transparency and the capability to react quickly defines what it means to be a highly-connected workforce. Through improved access to critical apps and by knowing when and how to best reach someone, tasks get completed quicker and more easily. When complete suits of user-centric UC and collaborative apps are consolidated into one highly available client, teamwork becomes streamlined. NEC’s SV9300 solution makes all this possible for mid-size organizations with up to 1,500 potential users. By supporting collaborative apps as instant messaging, group chat, audio and video conferencing along with presence technology and intelligent call routing, unencumbered communications can be realized across grouped and dispersed individuals, teams and environments. The fact that the platform’s mobility apps are out-of-the-box ready and compatible across Apple® iPhone®, iPad® and Android™ devices ensures quick deployment and uninterrupted adoption. Equally as important, this compatibility averts any need to replace or reinvest in existing technology and avoid time-consuming and disruptive operational modifications.



Brand Sustainability
Brand memorability depends on the experiences provided. Each and every interaction – whether interpersonal or electronic – has the potential of enhancing or detracting from an organization’s reputation. As a hub for so many apps, communications systems can be instrumental in understanding which applications and devices are promoting or hindering brand loyalty and employee productivity. Intuitive, feature-rich call accounting systems can provide complete visibility into UC usage and the means to effectively evaluate performance. This is why NEC includes a secure and modifiable administration and expense management system with each SV9000 Series communications platform, even for the SV9100 designed especially for smaller-sized organizations. So even smaller companies can benefit and alter their practices by effortlessly scrutinizing how their communications system and collaborative apps are creating brand ambassador moments.

Interested in how NEC – a global leader in the call control market – can optimize your workforce across and beyond the organization? Contact us now and find out …

NEC Corporation of America

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Let us assist you with your current business needs!

Fill out the form today and we will get back with you.