INTERVIEW: Allen Ganz, Director, Advanced Recognition Systems Division, NEC

INTERVIEW: Allen Ganz, Director, Advanced Recognition Systems Division, NECFindBiometrics President Peter O’Neill recently interviewed Allen Ganz, Director, Advanced Recognition Systems Division, NEC. The conversation revolves around biometrics in the critical infrastructure vertical market, beginning with a discussion of key drivers in the sector. Ganz and O’Neill go on to speak about the specific applications of NEC’s NeoFace solution in critical infrastructure, and which markets are showing the most demand for the company’s facial recognition technology. The dialogue concludes with Ganz highlighting significant milestones NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems division saw over the past year in the critical infrastructure vertical.

Read our full interview with Allen Ganz, Director, Advanced Recognition Systems Division, NEC:


Peter O’Neill, President, FindBiometrics (FB): Please tell our readers about your role at NEC.

Allen Ganz, Director, Advanced Recognition Systems Division, NEC: NEC’s Advanced Recognition Systems division has three key go to market channels, Federal, Law Enforcement and Critical Infrastructure. I am Director of Sales for our Critical Infrastructure initiative.  

FB: Critical infrastructure has become a focus over the past several years, what is driving all this growth?

NEC: We are seeing safety and security as key drivers and we are seeing that growth across multiple segments: everything from theme parks to stadiums through to airports and transportation. There is a common thread and theme throughout, which is increased safety and security but not at the inconvenience of the customer or guest. What is unique about NEC’s solution is that it enables frictionless access, providing a high level of security and increased convenience when large groups people need to move into a secured environment.

FB: We are hearing a lot about this, and NEC’s NeoFace product seems ideally suited for this area, can you please walk us through your process?

NEC: There are two key use cases that we are addressing in critical infrastructure—one is real-time screening, in which we have the ability to preload an image, a blacklist, into a database, allowing us to immediately search those images against live video that is coming into the system. This is typically deployed at key choke points, such as a magnetometer or other security portal that people are walking through. At these choke points, we can extract faces in real time and search those against known watch lists.

The second use case is high throughput, frictionless access for use cases such as verifying contractors and staff entering a stadium, or identifying season pass holders entering a theme park. We are able to very quickly and very accurately verify or identify large groups of people moving from an unsecured to a secured location. At the recent ConnectID show we announced the NeoFace Express solution which is designed specifically for challenging environments such as airports, to be used at key points of friction in the traveler’s journey, from curbside to the gate.  By using facial recognition throughout the travel experience from bag drop to boarding your flight, we are removing friction while increasing safety, security and convenience.

FB: Which vertical markets are you seeing the greatest growth? You just mentioned airports, you also mentioned transportation, parks, education – what are the hot markets right now?

NEC: I would say theme parks, stadiums, and transportation which would encompass airports and transportation hubs—those are some of the key verticals that we are seeing significant interest and adoption from now.

FB: Has this been a good year for the Critical Infrastructure vertical at NEC?

NEC: It has been an amazing year. We have seen both significant adoption as well as the foundations for significant growth in the coming fiscal year, having undergone a number of key proofs of concept in a number of different environments. I would also say that the recent validation of NEC’s NeoFace performance by NIST in their most recent study, which tested facial recognition specifically in non-cooperative environments, or “faces in the wild”, has resonated strongly with customers. NIST tested facial recognition in real world environments, such as airports and stadiums. Our performance in NIST’s evaluation, which showed we were significantly more accurate both in core accuracy, as well as speed over the competition, has really helped to validate the technology in some of the key markets that we are addressing today.

FB: Well, Allen, congratulations on a good year. I look forward to hearing more about your technology as the year unfolds, and thank you for taking the time to speak with us today.

NEC: Absolutely, Peter. Thank you so much.