Nestled in the gently rolling hills of rural Virginia, Sweet Briar College is a women’s liberal arts college spanning over 3,200 acres. The campus includes a distant equestrian riding site and other remote facilities connected in some places by winding dirt roads. With such a large campus, keeping an eye on everything becomes as challenging as it does critical.
Over the years, Sweet Briar’s small IT team, led by Chief Technology Officer Aaron Mahler, has been tasked with adding more and more elements to their network, including security cameras. Their ten-year-old legacy system was cumbersome and created extra work for Mahler’s staff. As long-time Meraki customers, the team already understood the value in a cloud-managed system, so they were eager to implement the new cameras.
- A large campus with several remote facilities made monitoring during off-hours challenging.
- Staff from various parts of the school, including the library and bookstore, were unable to easily and autonomously view video footage in their areas due to the complexity of the video management software.
- The historic nature of the campus and its architecture provides extra limitations on networking infrastructure and makes it difficult to house extra hardware without disrupting the beauty of the site.
- While the school enjoys great network connectivity, the IT team wanted to ensure that bandwidth was used for mission-critical IT and educational tasks, not just security camera footage.
- Sweet Briar’s previous camera system was generally challenging to manage, with a complicated and cumbersome interface.
- The team had no way of knowing when cameras went offline or stopped recording, which caused major issues when it came time to recall footage after critical events.
In reference to their old camera system:
“We wish we didn’t have any cameras. They are so unreliable that when someone comes to us for footage and we don’t have it because the camera was offline we get blamed.”
- The team installed almost 70 MV cameras across the campus.
- MVs in remote parts of the campus are connected via wireless mesh with Meraki APs.
- A mix of MV21 and MV71 cameras allows for full coverage both indoors and out.
- Mahler’s team assigned granular access controls to staff from various teams, allowing them to monitor only their pertinent areas.
With Meraki MV:
“The ease of use is tremendous. The amount of time savings for your staff, the installation and managing the cameras, and the ease of use for your campus police or security office…are all tremendous selling points for us.”
- A relatively small team of campus safety officers can provide a safer environment for students and faculty without having to be everywhere at once. The simple web-based interface and mobile app allow them to easily stay keyed- in to remote areas.
- Centralized management and the ability to configure and view video through the Meraki dashboard have saved the Sweet Briar staff—from the IT team to the librarians—a considerable amount of time and effort versus their old system.
- With user-based permissions, campus staff in charge of specific facilities can better manage their areas since they no longer require a set of eyes onsite at all times.
- Installation posed no major technical or aesthetic issues, even in buildings over 100 years old.
- The Motion Search tool allows for staff to quickly identify specific events on campus without manually sifting through hours or days of footage.
- The team receives alerts when cameras go offline, allowing them to proactively address the issue before they miss a critical event.