An Israeli surveillance company specializing in phone, video, and internet monitoring. Its systems are used by prisons and police departments.
NICE Ltd (founded as Neptune Intelligent Computer Engineering), is an Israeli surveillance technology company that specializes in phone, video, and internet monitoring tools. The company serves corporate clients and government agencies in over 150 countries and reported a $1.6 billion revenue in 2019. NICE’s U.S. subsidiary, Nice Systems Inc, is headquartered in Hoboken, New Jersey.
NICE has marketed and sold its voice recording and video surveillance technologies to U.S. prisons and police departments. It also provides prisons and police with analytical software to analyze and organize mass amounts of this recorded data.
Monitoring Prison Phone Calls
NICE’s phone and voice monitoring technology has been used to monitor the phone calls of incarcerated people in the United States. The company offers a keyword search tool, Nexidia AudioFinder, that scans and organizes phone call recordings made from within prisons and jails. It creates “watchlists,” which notify prison guards, attorneys, and police officers whenever a specific word is used on a call, or whenever a specific person uses a specific word. This voice monitoring technology also analyzes tone of voice, excitement, and behavior, then translates this information into searchable data for prison guards and police officers. This system was originally developed by Nexidia, a company that NICE acquired in 2016 for $135 million.
NICE’s Nexidia AudioFinder is used as an integrated feature for three out of the four largest U.S. prison phone service companies. GTL, the largest U.S. prison phone provider, has offered Nexidia AudioFinder as part of its services to state prison authorities at least since 2011. Similarly, CenturyLink has integrated NICE’s technology into its prison phone service since at least 2013. The third company, ICSolutions, integrated NICE’s technology into its system in 2012, and in 2017 said it is in use at “nearly three dozen” prisons. Securus, the fourth large prison phone company, has an in-house application with similar functionality, not powered by NICE.
In addition, NICE has a product called NICE-inContact that is used by law enforcement agencies to automate and optimize their calling centers using voice biometrics. For example, in 2018, through a partnership with Accenture, NICE-inContact was integrated into the State of Michigan call center, which supports multiple state agencies, including Michigan’s e-carceration (electronic monitoring) system.
One of the main sectors of NICE’s business is its Public Safety Solutions, which consists of services and products designed for the needs of police departments. NICE technologies power body cameras, dispatch, geographic information, record management, phone, 9-1-1 communication, and radio systems of police departments across the United States and in other countries. NICE Investigate, one of NICE’s products, is a digital policing software designed for streamlining evidence collection. Other such products are NICE Multimedia Recording and NICE Inform, which are used by police departments to collect and organize surveillance data from various sources, including recorded calls and radio communication, city-wide video cameras, and social media.
According to the company, these products are used by more than 3,000 “public safety” organizations. For example, NICE products have been used by police departments in Austin, Cleveland, Jersey City, Las Vegas, New York City, Phoenix, Raleigh, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. In addition, Motorola Solutions uses NICE’s recording and analyzing software in the radio systems that it provides to law enforcement agencies like the Los Angeles Police Department.
Past Involvement in Prison Video Surveillance
Until 2015, NICE’s video surveillance technology, NiceVision, was marketed to and used in prisons and jails throughout the United States. As of 2009, NiceVision video surveillance had been deployed in 56 prisons across the country. NICE’s Physical Security Unit conducted the sale of NiceVision as well as communication-based intelligence technology to prisons, police, and intelligence agencies. As of 2013, the Physical Security Unit made up 34% of the company’s revenue.
One of NICE’s clients was the Maricopa County Sheriff's Department in Arizona. NiceVision was deployed in Maricopa County jails as part of a jail upgrade project conducted by then Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio was sued by the ACLU in 2007 and by the U.S. Department of Justice in 2013, and was found guilty of discriminatory policing against Latinos, unconstitutional detention of Latino immigrants, and retaliating against his critics. The Maricopa County Sheriff's Department started using NiceVision in its jails in 2000, and spent $2.5 million on it in 2017 alone.
In 2015, NICE sold its Physical Security unit. Its Cyber and Intelligence business, which provides prisons, police, and intelligence agencies with tools to monitor communications, was acquired by Elbit Systems. The rest of the Security Unit, which consisted of NICE’s video surveillance tools including NiceVision, was acquired by private equity firm Battery Ventures and rebranded as Qognify.