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.”

Biometrics are Revolutionizing Airports and the Passenger Experience

The airport travel experience has remained constant for a LONG time. For many of us, words like “unpredictable,” “slow,” and “frustrating” immediately come to mind. I spend a lot of time in airports, and can personally affirm that the international pursuit of innovation within the aviation industry could not be more obvious or focused than it is right now.


Your usual experience: arrive at the airport, wait in a line to get your ticket, wait in a line for security, then wait in a line to board your plane—and until just a few years ago, this was generally the case. However, as other fields have proven the advantages of certain technologies, applications to and acceptance by commercial aviation has become more and more apparent. Biometric solutions have especially begun revolutionizing the airport experience for all stakeholders involved – travelers, airlines, airport operations, vendors, government, and law enforcement.


About five years ago, biometrics did the same for the mobile device industry—and before that, fingerprints were only associated with law enforcement. Today, fingerprints have become ubiquitous as a quick and easy replacement for our passwords, allowing us to unlock everything from our phones to our bank accounts, with a single press. The ease of use has made life a lot simpler for users, and a lot more secure for providers.


That same convenience and security is now being brought to the airport environment, by leveraging all the technological innovations that have been produced over the last ten years.


In fact, at the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE) Airport Innovation Forum this year, our session was “Know Your Customer: Leveraging Personalization and Innovation in the Passenger Experience”, and focused on how airports around the world are engaging with new and innovative solutions that bring the real benefits of self-service and automation to modernize the airport experience for everyone.


During the 2019 AAAE Airport Innovation forum in Chicago, many speakers got up on stage to show how technology is revolutionizing the airport. From self-driving vehicles to optimization of back office operations, to facial recognition and analytics that reduce wait times using dynamic content displays, a digital transformation in the aviation environment is definitely under way. And an important priority has universally taken shape: how to make travelers safer and the customer experience more convenient throughout the aviation journey—everything from check-in, bag-checks and security to airport shopping.


Security is, of course, of the utmost importance, and rightly so–even though it often has a negative impact on the traveler experience. We know the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) are working daily (and nightly!) to keep our skies safe, which is why biometrics is so important to the security process. Having the ability to instantly verify that secure documents are valid and do match the identity and confirmed reservation of the traveler ensures that only vetted passengers arrive on the other side of that security line. Biometric security enhancements actually serve a dual purpose; not only are biometrics more accurate at screening individuals, they also move lines along faster. By bringing automation to necessary processes–that can then be optimized and become more predictable, this creates a better airport experience for everyone.


With the ability to predict wait times, passengers are able to spend more time doing what they choose, from relaxing in the lounge, to visiting duty-free shops (as biometrics also lets you “pay with your face”!).

The Fate of Airport Customer Service Isn’t Terminal from InteractiveNEC

Big change cannot be driven solely by the technology, though, which means leadership events like the AAAE Airport Innovation Forum are extremely important. More collaboration amongst industry stakeholders is critical to the success of the digital revolution in commercial aviation, for real change that is predicated on thoughtful policy and implementation, careful execution, and effective change management.


This paradigm shift is being driven by a recent realization by all stakeholders that, in fact, there is a common goal – digital transformation, for a better customer experience, improved commerce, cost and time savings, optimized security and smoother airport operations.


Next time you’re at the airport, think about how biometrics is, or could be, reducing the burden on airport operations, and making your life more secure.

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NEC’s ADVANTAGE 2019 Partner Conference Goes Global for the First Time

NEC’s first-ever global partner conference, ADVANTAGE 2019, brought together more than 550 attendees from North America, EMEA and Latin America to learn, share and socialize during the three-day event. Attendees representing 200 partners from 50 countries gathered at the Hilton Bonnet Creek in Orlando, including channel partners, systems integrators, technology partners and guests along with key NEC executives.

With its theme of “Experience. Exchange. Excite,” ADVANTAGE delivered a rich blend of experts, guest speakers, networking opportunities, best practices sharing, deep dives into digital workspace topics, and a view of upcoming offerings. NEC executives, including Enterprise Technologies SVP Paul Kievit, Solutions and Services SVP Ram Menghani, and VP of Digital Platform Solutions Paul Aiello, provided a glimpse into the future of the Smart Enterprise and exciting possibilities that are available via dynamic delivery including Cloud, Smart WorkSpace and the UNIVERGE Integration Platform.

Woven throughout the presentations and educational sessions was the importance of the overall customer experience.

Digital transformation enables businesses to prioritize customer experience (CX), which elevates a commitment to employee experience (EX). For example, NEC’s Smart Workspace enhances employee experiences by providing work flexibility, improved collaboration, increased productivity and engagement. Deploying Smart Workspace allows organizations to reduce costs, retain talent, and create a great work culture.

Break-out sessions focused on current workforce trends, secure data management, unified communications solutions, high-availability servers, overcoming infrastructure challenges, and the importance of building customer relationships.

This year’s Solutions Expo featured global innovative solutions from the U.S., Japan and EMEA. The exhibits showcased the best of NEC’s current offerings as well as solutions that are coming soon.

Advantage 2019 in Orlando – NEC’s First Ever Global Partner Event

Check out the ADVANTAGE photo album for a closer look at this year’s conference activities

Presentations Designed to Inspire

This year’s agenda also featured guest presenters who shared their expertise, ideas and knowledge with the audience.

  • Delivering the keynote address was Seth Mattison, well-known international expert and author on workforce trends, generational dynamics and business strategy. Seth, who is CEO of Luminate Labs, energized the audience with his discussion on The Future of Work and how workforce dynamics are shaping the new workplace.
  • LPGA Commissioner Mike Whan expanded on how NEC is an important partner in helping the golf organization achieve an excellent fan experience at its events.
  • During the “Proud to Partner” session, several of NEC’s top systems integrators shared stories of success, transformation and best practices from their businesses. Featured speakers included executives from AllStar Communications, SETel, Forerunner, Koning & Hartman and Datasciences .  Highlights from this session included a success story about a large university win that defined a roadmap for how SETel was able to combine creative financing through NEC Financial Services with NEC technology solutions and partner managed services to deliver an OPEX model to the customer, increased margins to the partner, and eliminate competitive bids.

Honoring NEC’s Valued Partners

The ADVANTAGE 2019 conference also provides the opportunity to recognize our extraordinary worldwide partners during the awards presentation. The focus was to not only award top performers for their demonstrated excellence over the past year, but also to give partners the opportunity to share insights and learn from each other. See a full list of the awards here

The record-breaking attendance and enthusiastic participation from partners from around the globe made for a smashing success at NEC’s first global ADVANTAGE partner conference. Together, NEC and its partners continue to bring IT and communication solutions that enable organizations and their workforces to embrace the value of digital transformation.

To get an up-close look at ADVANTAGE 2019 check out our video.

Thanks to all who joined us in Orlando. See you in 2020 !

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Get Ready for NEC’s First Global ADVANTAGE 2019 Partner Conference

NEC’s highly anticipated annual three-day partner conference kicks off on June 3 in Orlando. In its first incarnation as a global event, ADVANTAGE 2019 will be where NEC’s key players, channel partners, systems integrators, technology partners and guests get together to learn and share their interest in business enterprise technology.

A multi-purpose event for learning, experiencing, sharing, socializing, and recognizing our extraordinary partners across North America, EMEA and LATAM, NEC continues this rich tradition on June 3-5, at the Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek in Orlando, Florida.

As always, NEC’s 2019 ADVANTAGE conference will be an uplifting time of targeted learning, inspiration and fun. It’s an opportunity to focus on how the latest NEC technology for business communications, workforce productivity, reliable business continuity, data security, and biometric solutions can move organizations forward and enhance their employee and customer experience.

This year’s keynote is the highly energetic and engaging Seth Mattison, whose focus will be on workforce trends and generational dynamics.

We’ll also feature a blending of expert education on cutting edge NEC solutions that exceed customer expectations, together with great opportunities to build business-boosting relationships with peers, sponsors, partners and NEC experts. ADVANTAGE 2019 is a time of experiencing NEC’s positive global messaging of the importance of developing strong relationships and understanding NEC’s solutions for the Smart Enterprise.

Enhancing the eXperience for the Smart Enterprise

The event spotlight is on the overall experience of our customers with NEC’s Smart Enterprise solutions. A wide range of sessions will be focusing on current workforce environment trends, the latest in NEC unified communications, secure data management, the stability of NEC’s high availability servers, infrastructure challenges being met, the critical importance of building real relationships with customers, and why the spectrum of NEC Smart Enterprise solutions makes sense for businesses of all sizes and missions.

This year the information share is deeper, ranging from NEC Global Strategies to targeted sessions covering specific areas:

  • UC Enterprise SV9500 – to the Future and Beyond
  • SMB UC Platforms – Onwards Leading the Way
  • SMB UC – Unique InApps – Think Verticals
  • Workplace Mobility – Set them Free!
  • IT Solutions Networking – Master Your Network
  • Government eXperience – a Holistic Approach to Success
  • Education eXperience – K-12 and Higher Education
  • Hospitality eXperience
  • Healthcare eXperience
  • Business Cloud – the Sky is the Limit
  • Digital Marketing & Campaigns – Essential for Success
  • HCI Hyper Converged Infrastructure
  • Customer Care – Enhancing the Customer Experience
  • UC Enterprise UNIVERGE 3C – to the Future and Beyond
  • Sales Enablement Transformation –UNIVERGE Blue
  • The Smart Workspace
  • Smart Data Protection

Along with enriching opportunities to participate in informational and inspiring sessions led by the “best of the best” in the industry, the NEC Solutions Expo will also provide attendees with hands-on demonstrations of the latest available product and service offerings to meet the growing needs of our customers.

ADVANTAGE 2019 is a time when we come together to exchange ideas and enjoy an environment of fellowship and comradery. It’s a time to learn and affirm our shared goal of truly orchestrating a brighter world, and discover how, to that end, NEC is continuously innovating, learning, and always fine-tuning our commitment to creating experiences that matter.

Looking forward to seeing you in Orlando!

For more Information, visit: https://www.necadvantage.com/

RESOLVE Plus 2018 Conference

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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