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Delivering hard-hitting social innovation through innovation

If you travel through an international airport in Brazil, chances are you'll use a biometric security solution that Cristiano Blanez helped design. The Head of Innovation at NEC Latin America helped ensure the success of face-recognition systems at Brazil's customs and immigration stations. Since then he's worked on a number of projects that demonstrate how NEC is creating social impact around the world.

Finding creative solutions for society's benefit

As a telecoms and connectivity expert, Blanez's mission is to harness cutting-edge technology, and work with international organizations to solve complex problems in an increasingly connected world.

"My understanding of the Social Impact business is how to use our cutting-edge solutions and apply them to social issues," says Blanez. "How can we make people's lives easier, to increase inclusivity, increase access to public services, and help people live richer lives? It's about using technologies in the best way to bring value and benefit for society."

How NEC helps him in his mission

Blanez takes pride in his job at NEC because he believes his work is part of a noble cause aiming to solve many of society's deep issues. Reflecting on his long experience working with international organizations, he says it's very satisfying to know that NEC's social contributions are making a difference with some of the world's most intractable problems such as public health, safety, and sustainability.

"Instead of being a solutions provider, we are positioning ourselves as a partner," he says. "We understand the problem deeply and develop a solution together. The critical thing for success is understanding and working with the customer. That builds trust, and once you have that, you have transparency in communication that can help grow your business."

Life-enriching social impact projects

Blanez's experience set the stage for years of collaborations with international organizations. Working with Interpol, he and his colleagues delivered a cybersecurity project for the police of Rwanda.

Blanez is also trying to make a difference in his homeland of Brazil, where NEC is encouraging small-lot farmers to focus on creating finished products rather than mass harvesting raw materials. This sustainability practice will reduce the rate of deforestation of the Amazon rainforest, while also helping the farmers earn better wages.

In the case of cocoa, for instance, farmers are being encouraged to produce their own premium-quality chocolate instead of simply selling the main ingredient.

So how does NEC technology figure into the equation? In partnership with the Institute Amazonia 4.0, NEC is using its face-recognition technology to provide access to automated machinery that can process the cocoa. Doing so ensures that only authorized and trained personnel can operate the machinery, guaranteeing proper use and safety. This solution takes into account the diverse languages spoken by inhabitants of the Amazon, and offers multilingual voice guidance for system users.

Looking to the future

Blanez expects AI to take on more and more tasks, freeing workers to invent new concepts for social contribution that can be implemented with new technology.

"NEC pretty much shapes the future," he says. "We are always bringing new technologies. The most popular one now is AI, but we've been working with AI for more than 50 years. We have a big responsibility to use this technology in the proper way, respecting our policies such as privacy by design. My vision for the future is to keep this essence but use it in an accelerated fashion."

Cristiano Blanez

Having trained as a software engineer, Cristiano Blanez worked in telecoms as well as networks & connectivity for major IT companies before joining NEC. He helped upgrade technological capabilities for smarter, more secure stadiums used in some of the biggest sports championships before going on to apply smart solutions to ports and airports.

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