Compassion and innovation can be a positive force for the social justice movement

As a technology industry leader with deep research and development roots, NEC is guided both by strong principles around scientific exploration, as well as the ethical implications of our projects.

I wrote recently that a brighter world “will never exist while systemic racism and other forms of social injustice continue to oppress the Black and other marginalized communities.”

Globally, NEC Corporation President & CEO Takashi Niino has stated previously that as a supplier of public safety technologies, we are committed to maintaining an open and broad dialogue with employees, customers, partners, citizens, civic leaders and our colleagues in government.

NEC is a company with developed core values, including AI & Human Rights Principles, and we are committed to helping to end racial injustice in our society. Our efforts to operationalize our values and AI & Human Rights Principles help us responsibly develop and sell biometric technologies, including face, iris, fingerprint, palm print, finger vein, and others.

Today in the United States, many law enforcement agencies use our technology as a tool for investigative decision-making and determining possible leads in a case. As noted by numerous legal experts and scholars, a match using facial recognition alone is not a means for positive identification. Additional police work is required.

police in the communityAlthough current events have brought the topics of social justice, law enforcement and technology to the forefront of national discourse, NEC, through continued research and development, has long thought about the ways in which facial recognition algorithms can affect people of color. We have gone to great lengths to ensure our facial recognition algorithms are accurate across racial and other demographic groups.

For over a decade, our algorithms have ranked highest in accuracy in tests by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), widely considered a global authority on testing of biometric algorithms. Unlike many facial recognition algorithms that in last year’s NIST report, showed a pervasive problem with demographic disparity, NEC’s high-performing algorithm did not demonstrate this issue. As the matter of fact, our algorithm was singled out for being “on many measures, the most accurate algorithm we have ever tested.” This holds true across the diverse array of races and genders represented in the image test database.

This brings me to what NEC believes on the issues.

We believe it is possible to have compassion and actively work to improve conditions for America’s vibrant communities of color, while supporting our law enforcement customers and supporting reforms that encourage responsible use of our technology by law enforcement.

Furthermore, we believe that public safety agencies should responsibly use advanced facial recognition and other innovative technologies to help correct inherent biases, protect privacy and civil rights, and fairly and effectively conduct investigations for social justice.

On the topic of policy and regulation, we have and shall continue to support the development of legislation that provides and enhances existing guidelines for the responsible use of facial recognition technology.

We are dedicated to working with our law enforcement customers, the diverse communities they serve, and the policymakers who represent those diverse communities to find the best possible path forward. As we continue to work toward a brighter world, we plan to find ways to participate in ending systemic racism in America, and to use the best technology to do so.

Sincerely,
Mark Ikeno
President & CEO
NEC Corporation of America

A Message from the Office of Mark Ikeno, President and CEO of NEC Corporation of America

As events have unfolded this past week, many of us have gone through a spectrum of emotions. Sadness, anger, grief, frustration, and a strong desire for change all come to mind.

George Floyd’s death is unfortunately just one recent event in a long history of similarly tragic incidents across the country, and we recognize that the current increased focus on systemic racial justice issues is long overdue. We stand with those who are grieving and hurting and support those working to eradicate racial injustice in our society.

We understand that the brighter world we strive to orchestrate will never exist while systemic racism and other forms of social injustice continue to oppress the Black and other marginalized communities.

To those of you powerfully explicating and combatting these complex problems, we appreciate your work, we are paying attention, and we are committed to being part of the solutions.  Although we do not yet know exactly what those solutions will entail, we are listening, we are watching, and we are broadening and deepening our ongoing dialogue about the multifaceted issues at the intersection of racial justice, human rights, and technology.

To our law enforcement, first responder, and public safety customers who are dedicated to protecting and serving individuals of all races, religions, genders, and sexual orientations, we recognize the challenges you face and how difficult it must be to see so many of our communities so divided. We are committed to continuing to partner with you and the communities you serve to cooperatively ensure that our efforts to make society safer equally make society more just and inclusive.

We are here to support our employees, our customers, and all those taking a stand against injustice as we all band together, the way we must, to employ our individual and collective skills and resources to shape a better future for the world.

Sincerely,
Mark Ikeno
President & CEO
NEC Corporation of America

COVID-19 / Coronavirus Update

Disclaimer: This blog post reflects the latest available information regarding NEC’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. We will periodically update this post as new information becomes available.

Updated March 25, 2020

Like all companies, NEC Corporation of America has been closely monitoring the COVID-19 / novel coronavirus outbreak. The health of our customers, partners, employees and their families are of paramount importance, and we are actively aligning our response based on guidance from the Center for Disease Control (CDC).

While COVID-19 has not had a direct impact on NEC’s operations, we are taking the necessary precautions to help promote the health and wellbeing of our employees while maintaining the highest level of satisfaction and support for our customers and partners.

In the best interest of the health of NEC customers, partners and employees, NEC has implemented two measures regarding business travel and teleworking for our employees. These measures are designed to curtail the spread of the virus, while remaining as responsive as possible to our customers’ and partners’ needs.

  • Effective Monday, March 16, 2020, all domestic and international business travel by NEC employees must be deemed mission-critical before it will be approved.
  • Through at least April 3, NEC is instituting voluntary teleworking for all employees that are able to do so, except for those who live in areas affected by “stay at home” orders where teleworking is mandatory.
  • For employees working in critical on-site functions, such as those in our distribution warehouse, no non-essential visitors will be admitted for the safety of our employees.
  • For any NEC employees who must work on a customer’s location, we will continue to provide the level of support that they’ve come to rely upon from us. In some cases, employees who fall into the category of high-risk as defined by the CDC will be given the option to work remotely.
  • NEC office locations currently impacted by “stay at home” orders have been closed to outside visitors and are only open to mission-critical staff. All other NEC office locations will remain open and accessible unless otherwise required to close. To date we have had no employees impacted and no contamination issues. We will continue to follow CDC guidelines for regular cleaning and disinfecting of these locations.

We very much appreciate your trust and partnership with NEC and hope that you are taking similar precautions to keep your employees healthy and safe. If you have any concerns, requests or needs that NEC can address for you during this time, we are here to listen and help. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your NEC contacts.

Meanwhile, we will update this blog post as needed on the COVID-19 situation, and as any new decisions are made.

How can we help?

Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns. Fill out the form, and we will get back with you.