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 at NRF 2020: Seamless Retail Customer Experiences with Greater Operational Efficiency

NEC was one of the early pioneers in biometrics technologies since the 1970s. Today, NEC is the world’s leading provider of biometric solutions to both governments and commercial entities, which include air travel, theme parks, stadiums, casinos and more. Next stop: retail, where we are leading new initiatives to transform the Customer Experience (CX).

Looking Customer Loyalty Right in the FaceAt NRF 2020, visitors to NEC’s booth got a glimpse of how retailers are using facial biometrics to deliver an improved CX and achieve tangible business benefits.

Several years ago, we deployed a Customer Experience initiative aimed at transforming the way consumers transact in physical spaces, from entering theme parks and stadiums, to boarding planes, accessing benefits and making payments, interactions that require security as well as streamlined convenience. Today, we see this visionary concept in several very high-profile implementations. And what we saw at NRF this year, is that the retail space is ready to embrace this trend, with facial recognition as the enabler for an item-of-interest to become an item-in-hand with minimal effort and delay. Our leading technology makes it possible to deliver on this promise.

Customer Experience Starts with Fast, Frictionless Transactions

To kick off their booth experience at NRF 2020, visitors self-registered by simply taking a picture of their face, creating a digital ID on our facial identity management platform, NEC I:Delight. This one time enrollment enabled multiple touchpoints and experiences throughout the booth, providing for faster, more secure transactions for applications such as loyalty and payment.

As customers progressed through the booth, they experienced our facial recognition enabled Self-Checkout solution. This self-checkout lane recognizes the items a customer has placed in their shopping bag via RFID, calculates payment and then activates the charge without the customer ever stopping or swiping a credit card. As they walk through the lane, the customer has the option of scanning a QR code on their device or using their face as the “method of payment." NRF attendees also had the opportunity to interact with NEC’s technology partner, POP ID, a Cali Group company. POP ID’s self-ordering kiosk makes recommendations based on past food orders for faster decision-making, reducing wait times, increasing customer loyalty and revenue opportunities. Customers simply register once on their mobile device, and then use the kiosk to choose items and pay without pulling out a wallet or device a second time. Available at numerous quick-service restaurant (QSR) locations today, POP ID’s “Face-pay” concept is enabling unique and memorable customer experiences and generating a fast return on investment.

Experience Advanced Analytics

NEC also showed how facial technology can be applied to enhance data analytics and assist retailers behind the scenes to improve business operations. By analyzing key aspects of the shopper population, either in-store or in front of a particular display, retailers are able to send offers or engage customers in real time based on their individual interests. These types of up-to-the-minute data analytics help retailers survive and thrive in this competitive marketplace. Reliable sales data enables tailored in-store offers to customers, plus aids in managing inventory and staffing.

Retail … the Next Facial Recognition Frontier!

Finally, visitors could see NEC’s next-generation, modular point of sale (POS) design. Our POS design includes a space-saving footprint that can transform from a manned-POS station into a self-service POS just by turning around the peripherals. The embedded facial recognition option enables seamless payment. Both single and double-display versions are available.

Which of these retail trends does your organization plan to embrace in the coming year? Talk to an NEC expert to hear more and engage in our Biometric CX Discovery & Strategic Planning Process as a first step in realizing your vision. Simply fill out the form below, and we’ll get in touch!

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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.”

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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Expanding The Effectiveness Of Enterprise Security

Time is probably the most significant factor when it comes to protecting company premises. The speed in which a potential threat is identified and reliably assessed is pivotal in lessening possible harm to property and those within an organization’s facilities.

Whether an unlawful entry or a malicious act, the ideal security strategy is one that stops an incident before it actually has the chance to occur.  Technology that delivers increased awareness is helping to make this a reality.

Today’s advanced technologies are making areas previously considered un-securable safer – Take for instance fiber optic transmission and machine-artificial intelligence.  By combining self-learning with fiber optic sensing – as used in NEC’s Intelligent Perimeter Intrusion Detection System – suspicious activity can be located and classified over large areas and sites prone to challenging conditions. Being immune to electromagnetic interference, impervious to seasonal changes, capable of producing few false alarms and higher detection rates and requiring no electrical field power to function makes this cutting-edge technology a practical and effective security addition.

Automation is quickening response time – Even established security practices are being transformed by advances in technology such as the use of high-level algorithms.  One such area:  Video surveillance.  Hours of manual examination and the prospect of human error are being outdone by automated pre-set analysis.  NEC’s Enhanced Video Analytics solution – officially known as NEC EVA™ – is an example of such capability.  By being able to simultaneously process live and pre-recorded video based on set criteria, suspicious individuals, objects or questionable behavior can promptly be recognized and investigated.  Capable of also aligning cameras with multiple watchlists and custom alerts makes threat prevention that much easier and thorough.


Device-based applications are simplifying security through self-service functionality – Pen and paper registration, generic visitor card controls and physical security checks can soon become a thing of the past.  When tablet devices are loaded with facial authentication software – as it is with NEC’s Front Desk Assistant – security gets streamlined and more transparent.  Self-registration, photo badge creation and arrival notification all become automated through a single touchpoint handled by the visitor. Digitalized activity logs make for ready-to-read and sharable reports for in-depth insight into daily and repetitive facility traffic for greater awareness of what is occurring and with whom.


An increasingly connected workforce is making security alerts more targeted and immediate – Should a 911 call occur, push notification software gets the word out broadly and in varied ways.  Emergency messaging by voice, email, text or a combination of all – all achievable using NEC’s UC Emergency On-Site Notification – can advise first responders on where to go and the type and severity of a situation they might face.  This same functionality can also keep people in close proximity updated and vigilant or should an event prove to be a false alarm it can swiftly broadcast a cancellation or an all clear.

Looking for ways to strengthen your enterprise security practices?
Learn more about how NEC can help minimalize vulnerabilities to enterprise security threats – explore now

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