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Connecting Cameron County

How a Texas-based IT team simplified their operations with Meraki APs and Security Cameras

With well over 15 years of experience in IT, Juan Saldana understands the importance of a reliable wireless network. A little over a year and a half ago, Saldana joined the IT team in Cameron County, Texas, as Chief Technology Officer. His IT team of 12 focuses on managing everything technology related for the county, from day-to-day tasks to larger network overhauls. One of Saldana’s first projects was to expand the wireless presence to buildings throughout the county. “Everyone wanted wireless but there was no direction,” he explained; only the health department, district attorney, and a single floor in the courthouse were equipped with wireless connectivity. With over 1,600 people in the county and device counts constantly increasing, there was a clear need for wireless.

Saldana came equipped with previous experience managing Cisco hardware, so when he learned about Meraki, he was intrigued. With a feature-rich and refreshingly easy to manage suite of products, as well as a cloud managed dashboard full of capabilities, choosing Meraki seemed like a no-brainer for him and his team. After participating in a Certified Meraki Networking Operator (CMNO) training, Saldana felt confident that his four-person infrastructure team could support and manage any Meraki gear they encountered – sharing that “no one on the team had experience with working with any wireless product, [but] Meraki took away the intimidation of working with an on-premise solution…With the Meraki interface, it’s a couple clicks and you’re done. And it’s equally secure!”

Cameron County, Texas Courthouse

Cameron County Courthouse

Currently, Meraki Access Points are deployed in the County Jail and the Commissioner’s Court, supporting mainly iPhone and Android devices. Saldana and his team are moving into a new six-floor building, which will soon be installing Meraki APs to support around 400 people. Attorneys and people in court can join an open, public network by clicking through a splash page to log in. The IT team has set up traffic shaping rules to ensure bandwidth equitability, scheduling rule sets allow access to the public SSID in the courthouse from 8 am to 5 pm, and firewall rules ensure people can access email and the Internet. An internal, private network is configured to allow staff access to county resources with the use of a pre-shared key. In the future, Saldana will be upgrading to 802.1X Active Directory authentication.

Cameron County’s foray into Meraki doesn’t stop at just access points. Saldana and his team are big fans of Meraki MV Security Cameras as well. After about a month of testing the cameras, they plan on deploying them in the Justice of the Peace as well as in the new, aforementioned county building which will house the IT team. The deployment and move are planned to be completed by mid-July, and Saldana hopes that the Texas weather will play nice to allow on-time completion.

For Saldana and his team, cloud management from a single pane of glass has been essential. Gear can be configured in the Meraki dashboard before it’s ever taken out of the box; the dashboard provides visibility into network traffic, which was previously absent; and troubleshooting has been a breeze. When employees in the Commissioner’s Court building told the IT team they couldn’t access the Internet, the team checked dashboard and immediately saw an AP was marked as red — it was down. After doing a simple reboot through Dashboard, the AP was back up and running, and the employees were able to connect, without the IT team even stepping away from their desk.

Future plans for the team at Cameron County involve deploying additional Meraki APs and Cameras to the new building, which should be finished soon. They’re waiting to hear back on the budget to determine if the deployment will expand to the Judicial Courthouse. If it was up to them, they’d be expanding their Meraki presence faster, but until then, they’re excited about the connectivity and safety their new APs and cameras bring to Cameron County.

If you’re interested in learning more about how Meraki can fit in your environment, register for a no-strings-attached trial. If you’re already a Meraki customer and want more information on our CMNO program, reach out to your Meraki rep.