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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As a world-leading provider of facial recognition and other biometric, as well as information and communications technologies, NEC Corporation welcomes greater industry collaboration and effective discussion for the future of facial recognition technology and business. As a point of background, NEC produces face, iris, fingerprint, palm print, finger vein, voice and ear acoustic recognition technologies, and has over 700 biometric recognition installations in over 70 countries around the world.
In recent weeks, we’ve seen renewed calls for government regulation and discussions about how we as an industry can build a foundation of responsibility to protect people against discrimination, invasions of privacy and violations of human rights.
NEC Corporation welcomes this debate as we believe it will lead to solutions that can make our world a better place. Furthermore, we are eager to move the discussions forward.
As more companies come forward to add their voices to this dialogue, I believe we will start to see new and different roles that these technologies can play in protecting and improving our global communities.
In the United States, for example, the Department of Homeland Security is today using facial recognition technology at more than a dozen airports to positively identify travelers entering and exiting the country. Three days after the technology was introduced at Dulles International Airport, an imposter was stopped using a fake document. As recently as late November, the lead architect of this system from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reported that it had identified at least 36 imposters so far. Additionally, the first curb-to-gate biometric experience in the U.S. just launched at a major international airport terminal to a positive customer response, potentially changing the future of travel.
NEC, therefore, supports various governments’ considerations for reasonable policy, setting privacy standards for personal information and preventing unlawful discrimination related to this technology. Businesses, consumers, and the government should work together to help balance the need for privacy with the benefits of protecting our society, securing our borders and providing consumer convenience without the fear of negative consequences.
Accuracy is vitally important to the effectiveness of biometric technologies. At NEC, we are committed to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and their evaluations. NEC has a nearly decade-long leadership position and pedigree where NIST evaluations of our facial recognition technologies are concerned, and you can read more about it on our global Web site here.
In addition, NEC has established a “Digital Trust Business Strategy Division” to create and promote a strategy based on “Human Rights by Design,” considering the impact of the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) on society and the utilization of biometric information on human rights and privacy.
NEC seeks an adoption path for these technologies that is in line with the worldwide principals of freedom, justice, rights to privacy, transparency and continuous improvement. At NEC, we strongly believe that facial recognition can add significant value to our lives.
About NEC Corporation
NEC Corporation is a leader in the integration of IT and network technologies that benefit businesses and people around the world. The NEC Group globally provides “Solutions for Society” that promote the safety, security efficiency and fairness of society. Under the company’s corporate message of “Orchestrating a brighter world,” NEC aims to help solve a wide range of challenging issues and to create new social value for the changing world of tomorrow. For more information, visit NEC at http://www.nec.com.
When U.S. Army Major Eric K. King (Ret) carefully stepped out of the vehicle on a typically hot Texas day in July, no one could imagine the range of thoughts and emotions going through his mind at that moment. There were TV cameras and a crowd of people he had never met all gathered on a vacant residential lot in Irving. He shook the hand of Irving Mayor Rick Stopfer. He shook hands with Texas State Senator Kelly Hancock. And as he made his way toward the tent set up with chairs and a podium, we know of at least one thought going through his mind that he verbalized later. “I wasn’t prepared for this.”
Maj. Eric King was standing on the spot where his home would soon be, a mortgage-free home made possible by Operation FINALLY HOME and community partners including the Dallas Builders’ Association, Winston Homes, the City of Irving and NEC Corporation of America, among others.
Major King served in the U.S. Army for 16 years. His deployments included three combat tours – two to Iraq and one to Afghanistan. The first combat deployment was to Iraq in 2004 where he served as an Infantry Rifle Platoon Leader. He knew his life had changed after he survived several Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attacks, ambushes and gunfights while watching other soldiers lose their life or be critically wounded. King received many commendations, including the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, Combat Infantryman’s Badge, Two Bronze Star Medals and many more.
Like many combat soldiers, King suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The effects of his brain trauma and other serious injuries are constant reminders of his combat experiences. Medical treatment and physical therapy allow him to walk with the assistance of a cane, but he depends on a primary caregiver, a sister he lives with, and his parents to help him and his three children. However, his many challenges have not prevented him from wanting a key part of the American dream: home ownership.
Maj. King contacted Operation FINALLY HOME, a national, non-profit organization dedicated to providing custom-built, mortgage-free homes for wounded, ill or injured veterans, surviving spouses and their families. To date, Operation FINALLY HOME has over 250 home projects completed or in planning in 33 states. The charity works with various builder’s associations and member builders, corporate sponsors, and generous donors to fund each project.
NEC Gets Involved NEC Corporation of America supports various charities and organizations through its philanthropic nonprofit organization, NEC Foundation of America. The Foundation’s mission is to contribute to the creation of social value and help advance human potential through technology and innovative giving programs with a focus on:
• Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Education
• Health and Human Services
• Environmental Stewardship
• Community Wellbeing
Having employees that served or those with family members in the military, NEC has always encouraged employees to get involved and support various veterans’ organizations either with financial gifts or with volunteer time. Additionally, NEC’s work with various law enforcement and governmental agencies allowed company employees to work with many former service men and women. Our employees and customers with military connections inspired the executive board of the NEC Foundation to search for an organization to work with where Foundation dollars would have a positive and lasting impact.
“When the NEC Foundation learned of the vision and work of Operation FINALLY HOME, it honestly felt like the perfect match,“ said Jeremy Strauss, NEC Foundation Vice President. “By providing the gap funding to help turn this plan into a reality, NEC was able to support a deserving veteran and his family – in a meaningful and lasting way – by providing them a safe home – right in our corporate HQ backyard.”
There was a lot of behind the scenes work that went into making the surprise happen, with Maj. King thinking they were only meeting for coffee in a preliminary meeting to determine if he was eligible. You can see how it all came together by watching the City of Irving’s video.
NEC employees will have additional opportunities to support this veteran throughout the building process:
• Notes of Love – Once the house reaches frame stage, employees and other supportive members of the community will be invited to write positive notes posted on the frame before the builder installs drywall. These can be notes of gratitude for his service, spiritual blessings, or other positive sentiments. We want to “wrap the house with love” as the building process continues.
• Key Ceremony – Employees can be there when the keys to the veteran’s new home are handed over and help he and his family celebrate their new home and new life.
• Other volunteer and support opportunities – Employees will have the opportunity to volunteer as the family begins to settle into their new home as there are always unexpected needs and expenses during a move.
Extreme weather events have caused massive destruction across North America in recent months. In early 2018, the eastern part of the U.S. experienced a “bomb cyclone” consisting of severe cold temperatures, massive amounts of snow and lots of misery. Last summer and early fall, the Gulf Coast and Caribbean were hard hit by hurricanes during one of the most severe tropical storm seasons in years. Parts of Puerto Rico still are struggling to even get the power back on and other services.
Weather wreaks havoc not only on daily life, but disrupts businesses as well. Lack of power, paralyzed transportation and infrastructure damage have a definite impact on “business as usual.” Over the past several years, the Ponemon Institute (https://www.ponemon.org/), which conducts independent research on privacy, data protection and information security policy, has launched three studies since 2010 on the cost of data center downtime. In its latest study (2016), the research shows that the average cost of a data center outage was $740,000, an increase of 38% since the first study in 2010.
The cost of one outage can be measured in many ways—loss of revenue and productivity, damage to an organization’s reputation in the market, customer churn and loss of future opportunities. Depending on the timing and duration of an outage, some industries may be more adversely affected than others. Think about a resort hotel that is unable to book rooms online during the height of the tourist season. Potential customers quickly lose patience and head to the competition or give up entirely. Or consider a transportation organization—outages cause inconvenience for passengers and loss of revenue for carriers, but might be a safety concern as well.
Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery
Two elements of business planning, business continuity and disaster recovery (BCDR), are especially critical during a disaster or outage. Continued business operations depend on an organization’s ability to replicate its systems and data quickly. The ability to plan ahead and adapt during a crisis to restore business operations — without long-term or permanent negative effects — are crucial to an organization’s success. Business continuity goes beyond staying up and running during a disaster. It also means keeping all parts of the business running effectively and efficiently, not just the technology systems.
It’s important to keep a BCDR plan updated as IT changes occur, such as when new applications are added, new technologies become available, or when moving applications to the cloud, for example. By keeping the BCDR plan aligned with the business plans, the IT team won’t be caught off guard when an outage occurs.
Fortunately, technology provides solutions that help mitigate the effects of a disaster, natural or otherwise, and keep businesses online.
Keeping Data Center Operations Humming
For years it’s been a common practice for companies to maintain backup copies of data at an off-site location, usually within a short driving distance of the primary data center. While this practice works for many outage situations, a natural disaster such as a snowstorm, earthquake or mud slide could have a widespread geographic impact that affects not only the location of the main data center, but the backup location as well.
Deploying a cloud solution mitigates that disaster scenario. Cloud-based services support an organization’s ability to plan for disaster recovery and benefit ongoing business continuity. Cloud solutions come in three major deployments—public, private and hybrid. All have pros and cons, depending on the organization’s needs. For instance, private cloud solutions such as Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) provide the elasticity, flexibility and scalability of a public cloud, but can be dedicated to one account, thus providing a more personalized and secure solution.
IaaS solutions offer advantages over a public cloud, including seamless technology upgrades and more control. Advanced compute, storage and network technology can combine in a private cloud offering such as IaaS, but no solution is “one-size-fits-all.” It’s important to work with a service provider who can create a solution that fits the organization. IaaS lends itself to customization that caters to the unique needs of an organization.
The advantages of a private cloud are numerous:
Lower costs than maintaining a private data center
Maintain standards of regulatory compliance
Access to the latest technologies making it easier to stay current
More control than a public cloud, including a more secure solution
Standard billing so there are no “surprises”
Less burden on internal IT teams and staff
During a natural disaster, IaaS can be the ideal solution for BCDR. By providing an off-premises, hosted environment, the data center continues to operate from a location far removed from the disaster. Data is secured and transactions with customers and partners continue without interruption. Fault-tolerant servers offer five 9s of uptime and scalability. A grid storage system helps ensure redundancies to protect a company’s mission-critical data. Using grid storage, a company can replicate its data at an off-site location. During an outage or natural disaster, the master site can be recovered by using the data at the remote site, by means of an Optimized Copy, without having to import backup images.
NEC partner Iron Mountain maintains its National Data Center, located 220 feet below ground in Western Pennsylvania and considered one of the most secure, compliant and energy-efficient data center complexes in the world. As a technology infrastructure provider and part of Iron Mountain’s Data Center Marketplace, NEC is able to provide additional value-added services such as Disaster Recovery as a Service from this secure location.
Learn how NEC teams up with its partner Iron Mountain to provide an IaaS solution housed in one of the most secure locations in the world, the Iron Mountain National Data Center.
Location of the ‘Office’ No Longer Matters
When a weather event or other natural disaster strikes, the ability to enable employees to work from anywhere becomes critical. Working remotely means staff can perform their jobs as seamlessly as if they were in the office, supporting business operations, serving customers, suppliers and partners, and getting their work done.
Cloud-based applications enable employees to keep things running from remote locations. With unified communications and collaboration tools such as softphones, instant messaging, and audio and video conferencing, dispersed teams collaborate and work on projects even when the weather outside slows transportation to a crawl. Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get to the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions as well.
Virtual desktops can be linked through a private network connection to a secure, remote data center far from the bad weather or natural disaster. Best of all, desktops in the cloud look and behave as if they are part of a corporate IT environment. Customers and employees won’t notice a difference in the quality of service.
Software-defined networking (SDN) simplifies network management, proactively addresses network performance and quickly re-routes network traffic as needed—all critical functions during a severe weather occurrence or natural disaster. An SDN solution centralizes control of the network and automatically monitors and prioritizes network traffic, distributing it according to pre-defined policies and constantly updates network resources and traffic conditions.
When the blizzard, mud slide, earthquake, wildfire or hurricane strikes your location, the right solutions and technology enable business as usual. Consider private cloud solutions when developing your business continuity and disaster recovery plans to help create a safe and secure environment that protects data and applications, and keeps your business running.
Free Ebook 5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore
To learn more about the benefits of a private cloud, check out 5 Reasons You Can’t Ignore the Private Cloud Anymore. Fill out the form to download the ebook.