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

A Solid Platform for a Touchless World

In a matter of months, the COVID-19 pandemic has swept the globe, fundamentally altering social paradigms and prompting governments, businesses, and the public to seek new ways of interacting. Even after the current crisis passes, it will take time to recover, and many aspects of daily life may never be the same.

In the “new normal” to follow, we expect the current emphasis on public health and safety to continue unabated, making the ability to travel, shop, and work without the use of tangible identification or credit cards, touchscreens, or digital signature pens higher priorities. To individuals and organizations alike, technologies that support both frictionless access and social distancing measures are now more important than ever. Solutions that satisfy these emerging needs will require two components:

1

Making touchpoints “touchless” to reduce the spread of infectious diseases

2

Providing an advanced, robust, and scalable platform to support hygienic customer experiences

Combined, these components offer a new, revolutionary approach to Digital Transformation (DX), which will enable personal identification via digital technologies to interconnect people—including corporations and local and national agencies—and processes. Participants who opt in to DX technologies can benefit from enhanced digital services that securely, efficiently, and hygienically permeate all facets of life.

Through many years of work with governments and enterprise partners, NEC
has developed technologies that can eliminate the need for physical interaction
when identifying individuals. Although we began our journey toward touchless technology long before the current crisis, the COVID-19 pandemic has provided a new perspective on the importance of our solutions to essential workers who are on the frontlines to ensure our safety and security. Our commitment to support these workers is one of many factors that have driven the implementation of our biometric and AI solutions for multiple purposes, including aviation and immigration.

NEC sends its heartfelt thanks to essential workers and first responders who put their own lives on the line to keep us all safe.

An example of our touchless technology at work in aviation is NEC’s implementation of the first curb-to-gate biometric terminal in the U.S. with Delta Air Lines, in partnership with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL). Our curb-to-gate solution enables rapid identification and real-time screening of passengers. Travelers flying to an international destination can choose to use face recognition technology to check in at the self-service kiosks, drop bags at the check-in counters, go through the TSA checkpoint, and board a flight without requiring a physical ID card or boarding pass. Not only are our solutions more efficient, they are more hygienic with reduced risk of contamination, and they help streamline and secure customer interactions.

While integrating thermal sensors is the first step in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic, implementation of secure, touchless access requires sensor fusion. NEC’s award-winning biometrics solutions, including face and iris recognition, coupled with our cutting-edge technologies in behavior detection, body recognition, video analytics, and artificial intelligence, provide the tools to ensure successful implementation of touchless technologies.

Please see NEC’s “Vision of a Touchless World” exclusive whitepaper below.

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NEC Extends Special Offers to Customers During COVID-19 Outbreak

As we all attempt to come to terms with the effects that the COVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) is having on our nation, protecting the safety of our communities, medical professionals and those that are working to provide essential services must be an unwavering priority. For those organizations that have found themselves struggling, NEC is here to help as best as we can with communication needs. As a global leader in advanced communications and collaboration technology, we are working with customers who provide essential public services to keep the lines of communications and cooperation open. We stand by our corporate pledge to deliver solutions and services of social value to provide safety, security and operational efficiency—and this commitment has never been more relevant.

In support of nationwide efforts to keep those working safe and connected, we can assist in solving communication issues as they arise, as well as provide economic and cost-effective remote communication tools to keep businesses operating and employees contributing when working from home.

As part of NEC’s commitment to our customers, partners and society, we are extending a variety of offers to our existing customers to provide relief to those affected by COVID-19. These offers aim to assist those who are on the front-line and those working remote by providing organizations and employees with the resources needed to stay connected, efficient and safe during these unprecedented times; and we are pleased to announce that we have already been able to assist hundreds of customers through these programs. While today’s circumstances have created many societal and professional challenges in the world, NEC is committed to helping organizations minimize the effect of communication restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus.

Supporting Remote Workforces

While many organizations have implemented mandatory work-from-home policies to adhere to local social-distancing guidelines, effective and flexible remote voice communications is a requirement now more than ever. To help support the massive number of organizations whose employees suddenly transitioned towards a work-from-home environment, NEC is extending special offers to help keep remote employees safer, more connected and efficient while working at home.

IP Station and Softphone Licenses:

An IP station and soft phone capabilities can turn an employee’s PC into a virtual business telephone. A softphone and IP station are ideal for those working remotely and now have the need for alternative and additional means of communication.

NEC is offering customers the option to utilize IP Station and Softphone Licenses on their NEC voice communications platform systems now through June 30, 2020 with the option to return these licenses with no restocking fees. This offer includes all of our softphone offerings including the UNIVERGE SP350 softphone, UNIVERGE ST500 smartphone client, Multiline Client Mobile (MLC) and UNIVERGE 3C soft media phone (SMP).  If you are an existing NEC IP communications platform user, your system already has the technology to immediately begin deploying remote softphone clients.

NEC will waive the add-on Software Assurance (SWA) requirement for these licenses at the time of purchase. Licenses may be returned to NEC for credit at any time prior to June 30, 2020 and NEC will waive all restocking fees.

Reduced Collaboration Pricing:

NEC Meeting Center (NMC) provides a ‘suite of applications’ which includes, audio conferencing, web collaboration, predefined dial-out conferencing and mass notification for all of NEC’s communications platforms. This comprehensive suite equips your employees with the tools they need to help them remain connected, efficient, and informed. Your employees can remain responsive and productive through real-time sharing of information and most importantly, remaining safe while servicing customers from their own home.

We have reduced the price of NEC Meeting Center (NMC) conference and collaboration solution in order to support those who had to make the sudden transition to a remote work environment. NEC Meeting Center (NMC) special discount offer is available through July 1, 2020 in response to COVID-19.

Protecting in-office workers

In industries such as healthcare, hospitality, retail, food service, manufacturing, non-profit organizations government agencies and critical infrastructure, there are employees who do not have the luxury to transfer their work to their home. For roles in these industries such as nurses, doctors, warehouse personnel, store managers, government personnel and restaurant staff – the need for on-campus mobile devices still exists.

Reduced IP DECT Handset Pricing:

NEC’s IP DECT i766 and G577 handsets have an IP65 rating (IP65 Enclosure Rating – IP rated as "dust tight" and protected against water projected from a nozzle), meaning they are water spray protected. As such, they may be cleaned easily without concern of damaging the units. This rating is not common for on-campus mobility solution devices.

NEC is currently offering an introductory bundle at a significantly reduced price to help protect those who are on-campus providing essential services. We are extending the IP DECT intro offer through June 30, 2020 in support of the men and women that are going into work every day during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Please let us know if we can assist you in anyway during this unprecedented time and if you would like more information about NEC’s communication and collaboration solutions. If you would like to learn more about the special offers, please reach out to your NEC account manager. We will continue to monitor the situation and provide you with any relevant information as it becomes available. The safety and health of everyone concerned is NEC’s main priority. On behalf of every NEC employee, stay healthy and thank you!

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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.