2020 Disruptions Propel NEC’s Digital Transformations

NEC’s 2020 Innovations Increase Safety, Business Continuity and Digital Transformations

Challenging and chaotic are choice words to describe 2020. But during the healthcare crisis and weather emergencies, everyday heroes emerged.

We applaud the frontline workers, healthcare providers and first responders. We also recognize IT and telecommunications professionals, network administrators and data managers who supported critical technology infrastructures.

The immense disruptions in 2020 propelled innovations in the way we live and work. While NEC is continuously advancing in the areas of communications, security, collaboration platforms and customer experience, we redoubled our efforts last year.

Safer, secure contactless touchpoints
As we move forward, public health and safety remain top priorities. For individuals and organizations, technologies that support both frictionless access and social distancing measures are now more important than ever.

That’s the reason we prioritized development of “touchless” touchpoints to reduce the spread of infectious diseases. Our revolutionary approach to Digital Transformation (DX), NEC I:Delight, includes an advanced, secure and scalable platform to support contactless, yet robust customer experiences.

Although we began our journey toward touchless technology long before the current crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic reinforces our commitment to continue advancing our biometric and AI solutions for aviation, immigration, retail and hospitality industries, healthcare, education and more.

Screening travelers to ensure health and security
A highlight of 2020 is the Hawaii Department of Transportation selecting an NEC-led team for deployment of a thermal screening solution at all five state-run airports.

NEC NeoFace® Thermal Express leverages thermal sensing and facial recognition technologies to detect elevated body temperature (EBT) and alert screeners to anyone with a temperature of 100.4 or greater.

In addition, we introduced a partnership with SITA, a global provider of IT and communications infrastructure for 80% of the world’s airports. NEC’s Advanced Identity Matcher – Edge Source (AIM-ES) technology uses the most accurate face matching algorithms as validated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

In combination with our NeoFace algorithm, we deliver an all-in-one solution capable of creating recognition galleries and templates as well as providing identity matching and scoring. It easily integrates with the SITA Smart Path whole-journey identity management solution, which creates a specialized application for airport travelers. Because NEC’s I:Delight uses an individual’s unique ID, it is more secure than other online money transfer services.

New generation cloud communications and collaborations
The way businesses work has changed. Corporations must be flexible and ready to adapt to teleworking at a moment’s notice.

For 120 years, NEC has pioneered Information and Communications Technologies, including Smart Enterprise cloud computing and Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS). As the current global market share leader in on-premises business phone systems, we were pleased to announce a global partnership with Intermedia, a leading provider of cloud-based communications solutions.

Our collaborations with Intermedia launched a new generation of our UNIVERGE BLUE® cloud communications portfolio. The new UNIVERGE BLUE CONNECT and UNIVERGE BLUE ENGAGE solutions are reliable and easy to deploy, while remaining highly scalable and extremely cost-effective.

In addition to advancing business continuity, more employees will be able to work safely from home while increasing their productivity. The new UNIVERGE BLUE is also easy for channel partners to sell, install and support.

Resellers, check out 8 Great Reasons to Become a UNVERGE BLUE Channel Partner.

Reduce telecommunications costs
With the surge in network connectivity requirements, businesses are looking for ways to control costs while maintaining reliability and security.

We launched Network Connect to help cut enterprise telecommunications costs up to 30% or more annually. The intelligent call routing solution uses AI and machine learning to establish the most optimal call path from hundreds of global carriers.

You don’t need to invest in additional infrastructure or change anything about your business operations. NEC’s Network Connect is the first call-routing solution that gives enterprise access to the wholesale telecom market.

NEC Visionary Week
Another area that we reimagined in 2020 is NEC’s iEXPO. NEC Visionary Week was a virtual event packed with powerful insights to fuel future decisions. Featuring global problem solvers and tech influencers, the agenda included ideas for conquering COVID-19 and carving out a new normal, harnessing AI, 5G and digital transformations to improve economies, business operations and our societies.

If you missed Visionary Week in December, you can still watch the enlightening content on-demand until January 30th. Click here to sign-up now.

As we look forward to 2021 and beyond, we thank you for your partnership. Our commitment to innovations, digital transformation, safety, security and business continuity remains steadfast. Working together, we can build greater agility and resilience in enterprise systems to create a healthier future. Happy New Year!

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NEC Visionary Week: Insights from Global Problem Solvers and Tech Influencers

For 20 years, NEC’s iEXPO showcased solutions for society, attracting more than 30,000 attendees from around the globe.

This year, NEC is reimagining the iEXPO and introducing NEC Visionary Week as a virtual event, Tuesday, December 1 – Friday, December 4, 2020. In addition, NEC is making the highly relevant conference free to attend as a gift to clients and industry colleagues. With greater access, safety and convenience, the flagship forum is expected to draw a record number of attendees worldwide.

Agenda Highlights: December 1 and 4, 2020
Packed with powerful insights that will fuel future decisions, registration is open now for NEC Visionary Week. Be inspired by ideas for conquering COVID-19 and carving out a new normal, harnessing AI, 5G and digital transformation to improve economies, business operations and our societies.

Key sessions featuring solutions from NEC Corporation of America, include:

How Star Alliance Biometrics Will Significantly Improve the Travel Experience
December 1, 4:50 – 5:25 p.m. CST
This fireside chat spotlights the newest technologies elevating customer experience, while focusing on safety and security to rekindle the love of travel and restore travelers’ confidence in the post-COVID 19 world. Learn how Star Alliance, the world’s largest airline alliance, and NEC are working together to speed airport transit touchpoints, including seamless, touchless airline check-ins.

Join an enlightening discussion about the latest facial recognition technology and encrypted personal identification. Find out how the biometrics solutions protect personal data and maintain compliance as the customer journey becomes more enjoyable and hassle-free.

Speakers:
Jeffrey Goh, Chief Executive Officer, Star Alliance
Raffie Beroukhim, SVP & Chief Experience Officer, NEC Corporation of America
Jason Van Sice, Vice President, NEC Corporation of America

Cloud Communications Helps U.S. Major League Soccer Club Bring Fans Back to the Stands- VIRTUALLY
December 4, 12:40 – 1:15 p.m. CST

Despite the pandemic, one Major League Soccer team has been able to stay connected with fans. How? Using advanced cloud communications solutions.

NEC and Intermedia Cloud Communications have partnered to bring cloud communications and collaboration solutions. From business phone and chat to video conferencing and file management, the solutions are flexible and scalable in bringing teams and people together.

Join the lively panel discussion about keeping fans engaged and excited! Experience the cloud services and how the tools empower communications and remote collaborations.

Speakers:
Michael Gold, Chief Executive Officer, Intermedia Cloud Communications
Ram Menghani, President, NEC Enterprise Communication Technologies Inc.

The robust speaker lineup also includes:

How Artificial Intelligence Will Conquer the Coronavirus, And Beyond
December 1, 11:35 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. CST

Keynote speaker, Dr. Michi Kaku, Professor of Theoretical Physics at City College of New York, says AI will conquer the coronavirus. Analyzing vast quantities of raw data from social media, cell phones, drones and search engines, AI will detect super-spreaders and stop the virus in its tracks. Dr. Kaku will describe the Fourth Stage in technology with artificial intelligence and biotechnology. Join us to find out why Dr. Kaku is promising a brighter and more prosperous economy and way of life!

5G Open vRAN: Delivering Innovative Digital Services & Sustainable Social Life
December 1, 3:30 – 4:20 p.m. CST

As 5G networks become more widely deployed, operators are looking at the Open & Virtualized RAN architecture to better support next-generation networks. Learn how Telefónica is creating social values based on Open RAN that will increase automation, bring services to market faster, improve security and enable business efficiencies.

Speakers:
Enrique Blanco, Chief Technology & Information Officer, Telefónica
Akihiko (Kiko) Kumagai, Senior Executive Vice President, NEC Corporation
Nozomu Watanabe, Senior Vice President, NEC Corporation
Mayuko Tatewaki, Service Provider Solutions General Manager, NEC Corporation

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NEC Future Creation Forum: New Commons – New Values Towards a Sustainable Future
December 1, 5:30 – 6:25 p.m. CST

Mr. Jeremy Rifkin, American economic and social theorist and author of The Zero Marginal Cost Society, presents the “NEC Future Creation Forum.” Join an eye-opening discussion on the new value standards. Envision a future that achieves a prosperous human society, while maintaining a sustainable planet—beyond the next normal.

NEC Visionary Week will offer insights from global problem solvers, technology innovators and thought leaders. Join us to propel our world and industries forward!

For more information and to register, visit https://global-event.nec.com/nvw2020

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.

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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.”