A Post-COVID Touchless World for Federal Agencies

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to affect the United States, the private and public sectors have started working remotely and have moved their operations almost completely online. Federal agencies began to accelerate the adoption of remote and work-from-home strategies to stay connected to employees and stakeholders while ensuring the health and safety of everyone. Even the Supreme Court hosted teleconference hearings for the first time in history to maintain social distancing.

One positive outcome that will last well beyond the pandemic is the wide-spread adoption of new technologies. Digital Transformation (DX) is occurring faster than ever and will continue to accelerate as we look for ways to reopen our country, establish a new normal, maintain a healthy society, and stimulate economic activities.

NEC’s proven touchless technology and expertise support the ongoing mission of a new, safer and hygienic experience.

DX is inevitable in the ever-evolving landscape of keeping citizens informed and safe. As the country begins to reopen and employees head back to work, federal agencies need a partner to make their DX journey easier, discovering paths forward to using the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), and automation. Challenges lie ahead for federal agencies as they seek to ensure ongoing delivery of essential public services while minimizing potential impact to its workforce.

With over 50 years of successfully supporting a diverse range of U.S. federal missions, NEC offers proven touchless services and expertise to support a DX mission for federal agencies that will improve processes, deliver touchless experiences, and make interactions seamlessly safe.

Reduce Risk When Returning to Work

One example of how NEC can help address post-COVID challenges is our secure access management solutions. Gaining physical access to public sector facilities in a contactless and hygienic manner is challenging. Federal agencies, government buildings, military installations, and border ports of entry/exit, just to name a few, are troubled with cumbersome keypads or equipment for ID card scanning, both of which require users to touch several surfaces to gain access. These chokepoints also slow the traffic flow. All these increase the risks of infectious diseases.

Elevated Body Temperature (EBT) Screening

thermal scan exampleBuilt on NEC’s Digital Services Platform with industry-leading sensors and top-ranked NEC biometrics algorithm, the NEC NeoFace® Thermal Express delivers elevated body temperature (EBT) screening that can simultaneously verify identities with face recognition while detecting body temperature – even with face masks on.

When offered standalone and without built-in facial recognition, NEC’s NeoFace Thermal Express simply provides rapid, contactless and hygienic physical access and temperature screening across demanding, high-throughput environments. The solution can help federal agencies hygienically monitor employees and civilians for possible elevated body temperatures, mitigating the potential spread of disease.

Secure, Hygienic Access Management

thermal scan exampleAccess management helps ensure federal employees and private citizens have the appropriate access to secure buildings or other restricted environments.

Our technology can identify whether someone is not wearing a mask in a mandatory area, thereby ensuring federal employees are safeguarded. Combined with elevated body temperature screening, the system identifies not only the individual, but also determines potential health risks before the individual enters a facility.

NEC is Committed to Innovation and Transformation

NEC’s award-winning solutions are backed by rigorous research and development including more than $2.6B invested in R&D annually. NEC’s touchless services powered by our Digital Services Platform can address many issues in a variety of environments, helping government entities adopt DX faster while minimizing the health risk of its employees and private citizens they serve. Ranked #1 for our biometrics algorithms five times in a row by NIST, NEC has the top-notch solutions that make touchpoints touchless in response to the post-COVID world.

To see how our touchless solutions can transform operations for federal agencies, click here to learn more.

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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.”

Five Themes from connect:ID 2019

Originally co-founded just six short years ago by the International Biometrics + Identity Association (IBIA) and Science Media Partners, connect:ID aimed to create the world’s preeminent identity technology conference and exposition. This year’s show proves that connect:ID still has mass appeal!

The connect:ID 2019 event, held from April 29 to May 1 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., brought together more than 1,500 attendees and 150 speakers from government, commercial and technical arenas to discuss a wide variety of topics related to identity and related technologies used for recognition, authentication, customer experience, and digital transformation.

A number of overarching themes and topics emerged this year, and I’ve decided to outline the top five or so that I observed.

  1. Collaboration at the federal level was apparent. A fireside chat hosted by IBIA Executive Director Tovah LaDier with two senior program leaders from within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) – John Wagner from Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and Stacey Fitzmaurice from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) – outlined how they are using facial recognition to create a secure, seamless and consistent experience for travelers moving through our country’s ports of entry and exit. CBP operates the Traveler Verification Service (TVS), a database used to match and authenticate travelers’ facial images as they enter or exit the country, to which TSA will have access for future expansion of facial recognition at security lines for expedited screening. CBP’s Wagner now reports having caught more than 100 imposters attempting to illegally enter the country at U.S. land and air borders. And why shouldn’t TSA have access to this technology that is already proving itself so valuable?
  2. Sensor fusion is the future of customer experience. In his keynote address, NEC Vice President of Technology and Solutions Kris Ranganath discussed the combination of IoT, AI and analytics technologies that will come together to enable digital transformation and create seamless, reliable, more enjoyable, yet still solidly secure customer experiences as we move between two worlds – the cyber realm and the physical realm. This concept of sensor fusion already exists in certain cutting-edge retail and entertainment use case examples, and Mr. Ranganath expects we’ll only see more of this in the future.
  3. Customer journeys are a key theme for driving innovation for international travel and border protection. The vision for this experience is to create a seamless or contactless journey from reservation to destination. Mr. Wagner from CBP referenced in more than one instance the importance of a frictionless traveler journey in solving the border security issue. In a panel on the future of seamless travel, I outlined several customer journeys related to border entry – via air, land and sea – all enabled by facial recognition and sensor fusion. These journeys are not just a dream, they’re becoming reality. Mr. Wagner at one point in the fireside chat posited that someday kiosks may become unnecessary for Global Entry.
  4. Personal data privacy was discussed in more than one session. Nobody disagrees that privacy is paramount, and more than one multi-disciplinary panel of experts at connect:ID agreed. However, how we achieve it at a policy level is still up for broad discussion and debate. In the government panel titled “Perspectives on Privacy: The Rashomon Effect,” panelists including NEC’s Director of Government Relations Brent Bombach offered varying takes on the issue. Our take and hope is that federal legislation will eventually create a consistent regulatory environment so that travelers can move safely and seamlessly through their journeys without fear of their personal data being stolen.  So, as NEC Corporation CEO Takashi Niino previously wrote, NEC will always favor legislation that both protects personal privacy and allows for innovation in the public and commercial sectors. But a variety of state laws currently on the books or in varying stages of proposal promise to ensure a complex regulatory environment where biometrics and data privacy is concerned. Furthermore, a panel of congressional staffers on the main stage seemed to conclude that a federal preemption, or federal legislation that would render state privacy laws related to biometrics moot or unnecessary, is not likely to succeed in 2019.
  5. Innovation was on full display across the connect:ID 2019 expo floor. I’d like to be able to say that it was all in NEC’s booth. Evidence of innovation was actually scattered all across the expo floor. My favorite, however, is a solution based on NEC’s own research and development in optical networks. Intelligent Perimeter Intrusion Detection (iPIDS) works to detect physical border and facility breaches through the use of highly adaptive and responsive fiber-optic sensing and self-modifying machine learning based artificial intelligence. Deployed along a border or around a secure facility, iPIDS can not only tell when something is there, it uses AI to understand the location and source of the vibrations. Deployed as part of a sensor fusion network, iPIDS is one more way that people can feel safe and secure as they go about their daily journeys.

NEC was proud, as always to participate in this year’s connect:ID, and we certainly look forward to the 2020 event and to see where the industry will be in less than a year’s time.

For additional information and to stay up on the latest, follow us on Twitter and check out our NEC Advanced Recognition Systems page online.

Changing the Face of Airport Security

Have you noticed an uptick of facial recognition news lately? We have.

More specifically, airports and the federal agencies that govern entry and exit procedures are seeing success using facial recognition technology at border entry and exit checkpoints.

Airports have always designated security as a high priority. Security screening is probably the most important step in the traveler’s journey and typically means waiting in long lines. However, keeping air travel safe doesn’t have to mean making the customer experience more cumbersome than it has to be.

With facial recognition software, airport security personnel are able to speed up the identity verification process while still maintaining accurate results and a higher level of security. Not only can passengers be on their way more quickly, but security personnel are able to focus more attention to addressing other potential and actual threats.

Discover ways Advanced Recognition Systems can transform airport transportation.

Speeding up Border Checkpoints

The accurate identification of passengers entering and exiting the United States is a critical step in secure immigration and customs processing at our international airports. Entry and exit checkpoints can be long and stressful. Facial recognition technology provides a quicker, more accurate, more secure—and more pleasant— experience for everyone.

The software compares images captured at the airport in real time to a government stored photo taken from a passport, thus reducing time spent in the queue while also making it safer for all travelers. Using this process, faster lines at U.S. entry and exit points doesn’t mean sacrificing security.

After implanting facial recognition technology, within a span of just 40 days, officials at Washington Dulles International Airport have identified and processed three would-be imposters trying to enter the country illegally. Initial screening, using facial recognition developed by NEC, allowed agents to determine that the travelers’ faces captured at the point of entry did not match the face provided on the presented passport.

Why NEC?

Securing airport screening and streamlining border entry and exit checkpoints are just two ways NEC is changing the face of airport security and enhancing the passenger experience.

NEC’s portfolio of biometric solutions includes facial recognition, video surveillance, analytics, intrusion detection, and other security applications. Other airport-related uses include passenger conveniences—such as check in, bag drops, entertainment, boarding, retail shopping and baggage claim. Backed by 45 years of experience, NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems offers scalable, end-to-end solutions that secure our borders and improve public safety.

NEC’s world-renowned facial recognition technology is currently utilized by 17 airport for biometric entry and exit helping to address today’s national security challenges.

Contact us to speak with one of our biometric experts or visit us online for more information.

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NEC Advanced Recognition Systems Showcased at Connect:ID 2018

The connect:ID Conference and Exposition held April 30-May 02 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C. continues to grow in size and significance as governments, the private sector, and consumers increasingly realize the importance of secure identity recognition solutions. The three-day event drew together significant representatives and thought-leaders from around the world, and offered end users practical advice, examined current government policies, and provided thought-provoking insights into the future of identity through the use of biometrics technology.

NEC showcased its world-class biometrics solutions for multiple federal audiences and departments, and spanned a wide range of biometric technology, including face recognition, video surveillance and analytics, finger print, and multimodal biometric enrollment. Where biometric identification is concerned, we had something for everyone.

Nearly everyone who came to our booth wanted to see NeoFace Express, which is our rapid-access face recognition system. NeoFace Express is currently being tested at eight major airports by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the Department of Homeland Security’s Biometric Exit pilot program.

Biometric Exit is the federal government’s way of tracking outgoing international travelers so that U.S. officials can screen foreign nationals for potentially overstaying their travel visas.  Another popular demo was the NEC EVA (Enhanced Video Analytics) solution with state-of-the-art analytics, including object detection, crowd detection and estimation, queue waiting times, tracking and suspicious behaviors. Video Analytics is used to identify people, objects and events with:

  • Access Control and Identity Management
  • Digital Criminal Analysis
  • Digital Evidence Management
  • Real Time Surveillance and Watch List Monitoring

We also showcased other innovative identification technologies including SmartScan, NeoScan45 and Integrated Biometrics & Forensic Workstation Solution (iBW5).

Raffie Beroukhim, Senior Vice President, NEC Advanced Recognition Systems was a participant in the Fishbowl Session, Hardening Soft Targets with ID. Cultural centers like stadiums, arenas, and concert halls, along with other high traffic locations and critical infrastructure, have become top targets for terrorists, criminals, and other bad actors. This session centered on how protecting a large and porous venue or event poses unique challenges, and how governments and the private sector are partnering with technology companies to implement solutions such as facial recognition to help secure these soft targets.

 I was a panelist for Defense: ID in Theater. In this session, we examined technology advancements in biometrics, advanced neural networks and machine learning, computer vision and data analytics, and how they are being used to protect lives and maintain strategic advantage both on and off the battlefield. I also participated in the Getting to the Gate on Time session in which we discussed the status of key biometric pilot projects across the aviation industry. An interesting finding in the 2017 Global Passenger Survey (GPS) conducted by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) confirms that travelers are ready to embrace biometrics in air travel. In this extensive survey, IATA received over 10,000 responses from around the globe. Among those respondents, “biometric identification systems were the technology of choice with 64% favoring biometric identifiers as their preferred travel token”.

 Finally, Matt Pruitt, Chief Federal Solutions Architect, NEC Advanced Recognition Systems, was on the session panel Securing the Internet of Things. With 5G comes a new set of challenges involving high reliability for a greater diversity of mission-critical IoT services and devices. This session explored the vulnerabilities posed by these IoT devices, and provided insight into how the industry can partner to address these challenges.

We enjoyed showcasing how NEC’s world-renowned advanced recognition systems are addressing today’s national security challenges. This is definitely an exciting time for our industry!

For additional information and to stay up on the latest, follow us on Twitter and check out our NEC Advanced Recognition Systems page online.

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