Archive for the ‘Company Blog’ Category

Applications for E-Rate Funding Are Open!

Students in classroom

The Form 471 application filing window is now open for funding year 2022, and will close at 11:59 pm EDT on March 22, 2022. 

In December 2021, the Universal Service Administrative Company USAC announced that starting Wednesday, January 12, 2022, schools and libraries can begin submitting Form 471 to apply for this year’s E-rate funding (refer to this site for eligibility guidelines).

What is the E-rate program?

E-rate was created in 1997 as a federally funded program by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The program provides eligible schools and libraries with discounts of 20%-90% on broadband and voice services.

Which products qualify under the E-rate program? 

There are two categories of equipment and services covered: 

Category one Connectivity up to and outside the building (e.g., fiber optic cables); USAC defines this as data transmission services and/or internet access. 

Category two Connectivity inside the building; USAC defines this as internal connections, managed internal broadband services, and basic maintenance of internal connections.

Which Meraki products are eligible for E-rate funding?

Meraki MR access points:

  • Deliver superior performance in high-density wireless environments 
  • Let teachers spend more time teaching and students spend more time learning with seamless access to digital learning resources and no bandwidth shortages 

Meraki MS switches: 

  • Provide a seamless network experience for students and staff with access and aggregation switches that can be managed and configured anywhere 
  • Enhanced with zero-touch provisioning, network visibility, and the ability to troubleshoot issues remotely, Meraki switches are the perfect backbone for K-12 school districts

Meraki MX security appliances: 

  • Secure school networks with group policies, automatic firmware updates, and intrusion prevention 
  • Stop malicious threats and files before they enter the network while analyzing files retrospectively to spot compromising behaviors in the future 

Which solutions does Meraki have for K-12?

Providing smart and secure connectivity for students doesn’t need to be a chore. With a Wi-Fi personal network (WPN), schools can provide engaging wireless experiences without additional overhead. Every student is given a unique passphrase for all their devices, enabling those devices to discover and automatically connect to each other in dorms and classrooms. A WPN also improves data security by encrypting over-the-air traffic and eliminating the need to expose device MAC addresses. Students can easily register themselves in a few simple steps on a splash page without additional work for the operations team. 

91% of IT professionals reported that Meraki helps them provide better connectivity across their school.

Want to know how other schools have utilized E-rate funding? 

Reading School District implemented a full-stack Meraki solution that provides a fast and reliable network experience for their community. Watch this customer story video to learn how Meraki supports and enables digital learning across the district.

Please visit our website to learn more about upgrading your network with E-rate funding

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Protect Your Network Blind Side

When it comes to hybrid work, there are many network security implications to consider. As IT teams build more distributed, flexible networks, the challenge of identifying persistent threats and detecting unwanted network activity in encrypted traffic increases. 

The necessity for remote work has accelerated investment in more flexible, collaborative operations. At the same time, the need to protect customer and corporate data as it travels is accelerating the adoption of encryption across the enterprise. Without some advanced planning, these two positive trends can combine to create a new challenge for network and security teams. 

Distributed blind spots

To put this into perspective, we’ve seen the average number of sites managed on a Meraki network blossom over the past two years as companies adapt to a more distributed workforce. A 2021 Ponemon report observed that over the same period, the percentage of organizations that have established enterprise-wide data encryption plans has rapidly exceeded 87%.  

The potential risk? Network traffic blind spots for security teams. The demand for smarter, more connected, more flexible workspaces increases the amount of encrypted internal traffic on the network, creating significant opportunities for attackers to hide in plain sight. 

Device telemetry for threat analysis

Fortunately, there is an approach that can address these risks using your existing network infrastructure that provides full visibility into who is acting on your network and how—and it doesn’t require additional costly sensors or a slowing of traffic for inspection. 

The Meraki MS390 can provide rich, detailed telemetry about application and endpoint behavior for every device on a Meraki network. By pairing this data with Cisco’s Secure Network Analytics, you can perform encrypted traffic analytics (ETA) to detect malware and govern the quality of the network across your business.

Creating a security baseline

Secure network analytics closely monitors the activity of every device on the network and can create a baseline of normal behavior for your organization. From there, it applies advanced behavioral modeling, layered machine learning, and global threat intelligence from Cisco Talos and its group of security experts to build a sense of what’s normal, what’s anomalous, and what qualifies as threat activity on the network. 

By taking this approach, you can proactively identify threats hiding in encrypted traffic without increasing your investment in add-on sensors or expensive in-line traffic decryption, all without compromising the confidentiality or integrity of customer and employee data. 

Detecting threats made simple

Customers have used this technique to uncover malware hidden in encrypted traffic, detect activities associated with advanced persistent threats, and even identify illicit cryptocurrency mining services running within the network. Based on the Cisco Hybrid Work Index, these are some of the top queries blocked by Umbrella through the end of last year. 

blocked queries by Cisco Umbrella

We’ve recently enabled encrypted traffic analytics for the Meraki MS390 with the firmware 15 beta release. To get started using your Meraki network as a security sensor, update your switches to firmware 15 via the dashboard. Or, request a demo today if you’d like to see Meraki and secure network analytics in action.

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Meraki MV Named IDC Major Player

man and woman consult over iPad

We are excited to announce that Cisco Meraki has been positioned as a Major Player in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Video Surveillance Analytics 2021 Vendor Assessment report. Cisco Meraki was recognized for both capabilities and strategic vision for video surveillance analytics in this quantitative and qualitative research assessment. 

The IDC MarketScape report recognized Meraki MV smart cameras for their ease of use and breadth of out-of-the-box analytics. With storage and processing on every camera, MV smart cameras provide a complete solution for customers. This architecture—along with seamless cloud management and edge analytics—provides organizations with immediate value while eliminating the need to purchase, install, and manage separate servers and storage. This allows customers to realize immediate value from MV smart cameras.

Intelligently creating safe environments

To stay on top of an ever-changing security landscape, organizations need more efficient ways to process video data. Video analytics allow security operations to scale by processing data faster than the human eye. MV smart cameras process video on-camera in real time for motion, and use machine learning-based computer vision to detect:

  • Objects—including people and vehicles 
  • Audio—including sirens and alarms

These analytics are critical for keeping physical security teams aware of potential incidents and speeding investigations. 

To support safety when video isn’t being watched, analytics information about people, vehicles, or sound (sirens, alarms, or general noise level) can be combined to improve alert quality and reduce alert fatigue. After an incident, organizations can benefit from Motion Search, which relies on motion and object detection data to speed investigations by providing relevant video clips in a matter of seconds, rather than forcing users to scrub through hours of video. Results are delivered as Motion Recap images—composite images formed entirely on-camera—that summarize an event in a single frame and further reduce time spent reviewing video. 

Spaces made smarter with video

Beyond security use cases, MV camera analytics provide organizations with insight to improve processes and operations—creating a better experience for employees and customers. In-dashboard analytics, like Motion Heatmaps and people and vehicle detections, provide insight into patterns and trends—helping organizations optimize staffing and workflows. 

The IDC MarketScape report recognizes that the Meraki platform offers organizations the ability to leverage analytics data to customize and adapt solutions to meet their specific needs. With the flexibility to use real-time analytics data from cameras via API or MQTT, advanced use cases like PPE detection, office occupancy, and line queueing can be addressed easily. The Meraki partner ecosystem has 70+ apps built on MV analytics data that can be “deployed quickly, significantly reducing the customer’s time to value,” according to the report.
Download the report excerpt to learn more.

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Smarter Retail through IoT

This article was contributed by SES-imagotag, a Meraki technology partner.

Physical stores are the last place retailers can still get the full attention of their customers. But too often, the potential of a store is overlooked. Instead, they are seen as cash-draining, data-poor, and low-margin assets. At SES-imagotag, we help physical retailers transform their locations into highly automated and data-driven digital assets. No matter where you are in your digital transformation journey, we can help.

As a pioneer of retail IoT devices, we have been constantly extending our technology and solutions—offering a broad range of ultra-low-power IoT devices, including electronic price tags, video rails, shelf-edge wireless minicameras, and more! All of our devices are connected and managed via our VUSION Cloud Retail IoT Platform, thus offering advanced monitoring and prevention functionalities while enabling connections to countless applications through open APIs. They are also natively integrated with Cisco Meraki access points, meaning zero additional hardware investment and a highly competitive total cost of ownership. 

vusion rail gif

By leveraging our VUSION Cloud Retail IoT Platform along your digital transformation journey, you can create significant value for your retail business: 

Increase in-store efficiency 

  • Automate prices through real-time updates and seamless promotion execution
  • Optimize stock replenishment and order picking
  • Increase sales by detecting out-of-shelf items in real time

Improve shopper engagement and experience

  • Activate QR codes for better in-store interactivity  
  • Display rich content at the shelf edge
  • Guide customers to the product they are looking for 

Generate new revenue streams 

  • Partner with brands to run campaigns in stores 

If you’re interested in learning more, feel free to stop by our booth (#5425) at the National Retail Federation trade show in New York, January 16-18, 2022. Visit the Meraki Marketplace to learn more about the SES-imagotag app or request a demo.

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Stay ahead of Tech Advances in Education

Teenage girl raises her hand in class

The past school year was a massive challenge for everyone amidst the pandemic, and IT teams were in the eye of the storm, quickly transforming schools to make learning possible while keeping students and staff safe. Now that most kids are fully back to in-person learning, you might be thinking about how you can be more strategic in your planning. By leveraging available federal funding to update school infrastructure, you can stay ahead of tech advances in education while hedging against future disruptions.

Modern tools for hybrid learning and work

Education today is not fully digital, but change is slowly happening. Schools need to integrate traditional learning methods with modern tools to engage students and keep them motivated throughout the school year. To do this, IT teams are being challenged to update their networks with best-in-class connectivity and security solutions.

For example, augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) are not just global trends but are technologies that are being implemented more often in the classroom to improve the learning experience. Another best practice is improved communication between teachers and students. Sharing links, assignments, and feedback is the new norm, requiring connectivity in every corner of school facilities.

Even though most students are back to in-person learning, schools are prioritizing solutions that enable hybrid learning and work. There is no doubt that the pandemic changed the way schools operate, so having the flexibility to switch from one learning model to the next is critical.

Secure learning everywhere

Our digital world is making K-12 schools more susceptible to cybersecurity threats. That’s why IT leaders worldwide are focusing more on protecting students and their data, school-owned devices, and of course, the network. Meraki keeps devices protected, data encrypted, and students safe while enabling IT to spend more time on proactive security projects and less time managing and troubleshooting security solutions.

The focus on physical security has also increased in the last year. School districts are implementing cloud-based smart cameras to monitor their classrooms, cafeterias, parking lots, and other areas. Aside from monitoring, these devices gather analytics that can be used for contact tracing and supporting social distancing measures.

The benefits of a cloud-based platform 

Managing your entire network from an easy-to-use, cloud-based dashboard is now possible with Meraki. Using the Meraki dashboard, lean IT teams can gain complete visibility and control, valuable insight into network usage, and remote troubleshooting tools without increasing costs or hiring additional IT staff.

“It’s so easy to use. In a few weeks, we added 10,000 devices to the network and 300 Meraki APs, roughly doubling the end-user computing devices and significantly adding to the wireless—all without hiring a single extra person.”

John Krull – Chief Technology Officer, Oakland Unified School District

Meraki enables the safest environment for schools and the surrounding community through a combination of cloud-based online and physical security solutions—including endpoint management, security appliances, access points, and security cameras, which work together seamlessly to provide a safe environment for everyone. 

As you work on your IT strategy for the upcoming year, learn how funds from ARPA and E-rate funding can help secure Meraki solutions for your team and ensure exceptional student experiences.

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Forrester TEI Study: Meraki MV

 Total Economic Impact™ of Meraki MV Smart Cameras

The continued demand for remote system access and management is helping to drive the migration of some or all aspects of professional video surveillance to the cloud. This has created new challenges for security professionals, which has spurred the demand for cloud video surveillance solutions. Leaders thus face more complexity as they strive to protect the organization, safeguard people and assets, maintain their networks, and manage their operations. To be resilient in a world defined by complexity and uncertainty, security is an integral component. 

These teams need a flexible, cost-effective, and efficient solution to empower their employees, improve security, and optimize costs against an evolving future. As a cloud-based, intelligent video surveillance solution, a commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Cisco found that Meraki MV smart cameras are exceptionally simple to deploy and configure, help customers rapidly access and share video footage, are continually updated with the latest features, and eliminate the cybersecurity vulnerabilities of traditional on-premises surveillance systems.

The Total Economic Impact™ of Meraki MV Smart Cameras, conducted by Forrester Consulting, shows that Meraki MVs deliver:

  • A three-year 43% return on investment (ROI) with a payback period of ten months
  • Up to 75% savings in maintenance costs: maintain hardware, software, firmware, and configuration updates
  • Up to 60% reduction of video storage costs compared to legacy on-premises video surveillance systems
  • Up to 98% time savings to access and share video footage compared to their previous traditional system 
  • A 50% time decrease for managers who were able to delegate to staff

The Forrester study provides an accessible framework for organizations wanting to evaluate the financial impact of Meraki MV smart cameras relative to an on-premises video surveillance solution. Forrester concluded that Meraki MVs reduce video surveillance costs at scale, simplify video camera/video data management, and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the physical security team.

Cisco Meraki provides cloud-managed video surveillance solutions and sensors that make it easier for organizations to deploy, view, manage, and share video from anywhere, at any time, on any device. Our intelligent platform enables the convergence of IT, OT, physical security, and IoT, and unlocks new business innovation across the organization. 

Download the full Forrester Total Economic Impact of Meraki MV Smart Cameras study. Get started and learn more about Meraki smart cameras.

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Physical Access Matters for Hybrid Offices

Woman touching access card to door

This article was contributed by Kisi, a Meraki technology partner.

More businesses than ever are taking advantage of remote work. Even past the initial high-risk days of COVID-19, some businesses have switched to fully remote, while others have adopted a remote-optional approach. Adopting the benefits of remote work has spawned a new type of office: the hybrid workplace.

Hybrid workplaces are characterized by a blend of on-premises and remote work capabilities. This generally means that less physical hardware is needed and most or all of your workflows support remote work.

The advent of hybrid work brings many new challenges to office planning, design, and management. Here we will focus on an easily overlooked topic: access control.

Access control is more than a scanner

Traditionally, access control has been treated as a physical security measure (such as credential scanners that control access points into your office). Today, good access control is so much more.

Instead of being only a hardware solution, modern-day access control is a full-platform solution complete with advanced management features and the ability to integrate into other security or line-of-business applications, including things like:

Creating the best experience for visitors, members, and staff

Hybrid offices can come in a variety of formats, from co-working to remote-optional businesses. With this comes a lot of variable traffic: from one week to the next, you may not have the same people in your space.

Whatever access control solution you deploy in your hybrid office should be user friendly. The word we like to use is “frictionless.” Entering and leaving your space should be as easy as pulling out a phone or swiping a card.

Even though it’s simple for the user, it also needs to provide you with in-depth information and automated logging so you can maintain security standards with the ability to report on any event.

Additionally, updating permissions, setting access schedules, and granting access to visitors should be managed from one dashboard, eliminating most of the tedious, manual permission management.

Find the best access solution for your business

If you need to update your office security and streamline access management, start by looking at access control solutions that integrate with ones you are already using for physical security, digital access, or identity management.

At Kisi, we are constantly growing our features and integrations. If you’re in the market for a new access control solution, give our website a look or feel free to contact us directly at more about the Kisi apps on the Meraki Marketplace and/or request a demo

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A Smart Camera to go the Distance

Cisco-Meraki MV camera

Details matter, especially when it comes to safety and security. Was that an “O” or a “Q” on the license plate of the vehicle that entered the lot last night? Who exited the vehicle, and what were they carrying? What did they have when they returned, and how quickly can you locate the relevant video? If you don’t have the right camera system in place, it’s almost impossible to answer these crucial questions. 

Visibility anywhere you need it

Designed to provide precisely the high level of detail that physical security teams need, the new Meraki MV52 bullet camera extends visibility to hard-to-see places, expanding the reach of your operations. Combining an ultra-long-range telephoto lens and 4K video resolution, the MV52 delivers the enhanced detail needed to monitor roadways, capture license plates, secure perimeters and open areas, and create safe environments. 

Need to get visibility into a hard-to-connect area? No problem—the MV52 can connect wirelessly and has a built-in 12V DC input to provide flexible power and connectivity options. And with 1TB of on-board storage, MV52 allows for 170+ days of 24/7 storage, more than enough to meet even the most stringent of retention needs.

A camera-first experience

Ensuring safety and security is about more than just capturing video, it’s about being able to react and respond to events quickly. That’s where the Meraki Vision portal comes in. The Vision portal enhances video access for camera users, accelerating investigation and incident response. Physical security teams can now access the Vision portal directly from, saving time compared to accessing through the Meraki dashboard. 

We’ve also updated the Vision portal with new capabilities, including:

  • Camera field of view on floorplan to improve navigation between cameras
  • New motion search functionality to more quickly find and review activity
  • Expanded export capabilities, including video wall exports, a global exports page, and a “combine exports” feature to aid in sharing video

These enhancements improve safety and security by streamlining, gathering, and sharing video evidence, and speeding incident resolution.

A complete solution

Today, physical security teams are increasingly tasked with expanding responsibilities, particularly managing new health and safety protocols, while dealing with constrained budgets. Faced with a need to secure more with less, adaptability and agility are key. Meraki MV smart cameras and the Meraki cloud-first platform provide a flexible and intelligent solution to create safe environments.

With Meraki, physical security teams are evolving their video surveillance capabilities to operate more efficiently, eliminate complexity, and respond to new challenges. The new MV52 bullet camera and Meraki Vision portal serve to enhance the MV smart camera portfolio, extending physical security across more people, places, and things. 

Visit our website to learn more or request a trial to see how MV smart cameras can help your organization create a safer environment for all.

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Combating Violence in the Healthcare Workplace

Paramedics running towards ambulence

This article was contributed by Vince Grove, Vice President, Marketing, at AiRISTA Flow, a Meraki technology partner.

Workplace violence (WPV) is a recognized hazard in the healthcare industry. WPV is any act or threat of physical violence, harassment, intimidation, or other threatening disruptive behavior that occurs at the work site. It can affect and involve workers, clients, customers, and visitors. WPV ranges from threats and verbal abuse to physical assaults and even homicide. Healthcare workers suffer some of the highest rates of violence, but the numbers are undercounted because most incidents go unreported.

Here are a few stats:

  1. A 2016 U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) study reported that rates of violence against healthcare workers are up to 12 times higher than rates for the overall workforce, and 70% of nonfatal workplace assaults in 2016 occurred in the healthcare and social assistance sectors.
  2. In a 2015 study, 88% of respondents failed to document an incident of violence that they had experienced in the previous year. 
  3. In a survey of hospital employees, 62% reported that they were the target of violence within the last year. 

The impact and your role

Due to these challenges and other pressures brought on by the pandemic, hospitals are struggling to retain their staff. For example, nurses are deciding to leave the hospital environment or are leaving the profession altogether.      

Additionally, a 2001 study indicated that violence is not merely an occupational health issue, but is also associated with lower patient ratings for the quality of care provided.

The global pandemic has increased the stress on healthcare staff and the patients they serve, creating a volatile situation. Care providers need to review and update their protocols for violence in the workplace to retain staff, protect workers, and maintain standard of care. 

Government authorities like the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which oversees workplace safety, mandates such plans. The California Department of Industrial Relations uses the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) model as the basis for its recommendations.

Meraki as the foundation for AiRISTA’s staff safety solution

The AiRISTA B4n Staff Safety Tag

The AiRISTA Personnel Safety Tag is the world’s #1 two-way Wi-Fi/Bluetooth® Low Energy-communicating device that leverages your existing Meraki wireless infrastructure—providing alerts, location, and communication to personnel in duress and first responders. In collaboration with Meraki, the B4n tag detects the Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth® Low Energy beacons of all nearby access points to determine the location of the employee in distress. 

Because the system is easy to use, clinicians can be protected immediately without extensive training. Incident recording is automated to ensure accurate record keeping. Obvious display of the tag discourages attacks in the first place and brings greater peace of mind to clinicians and patients. 

Integration with Meraki’s MQTT streaming protocol and scanning API help leverage your wireless infrastructure to reduce costs and speed deployment. Two-way communication to the tag’s display alerts responders with an event and its location. AiRISTA’s software portal, sofia, provides a complete console with customizable workflow, device management, and playback to review the activities and timestamps of each event to help drive continuous process improvement. The resulting platform supports other real-time location services like asset tracking, patient flow, wander management, and hand hygiene, which is available on the Meraki Marketplace. Learn more about the full suite of AiRISTA’s apps and/or request a demo.

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Create Workplaces Worth Returning To

This article was contributed by Jonathan McFarlane, Co-Founder and CEO of Meraki technology partner PlaceOS.

Young entrepreneur having a business meeting inside of an office while their colleagues are walking in blurred motion.

What happened to workplaces?

The rise of the knowledge worker was the first trend to cut the tether between employees and the physical office. Concurrently, many people started working for themselves as freelancers or in the gig economy. This was all made possible by technology such as fiber-connected homes and fast mobile internet, and web conferencing becoming ubiquitous. 

In densely populated cities, many enterprises embraced hot-desking as a way to downsize their real estate footprint. Hybrid work is not new for some organizations, but suddenly, all workplaces were forced to adopt flexible working practices thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Location-based workplace incentives 

One benefit of returning to the office is that there are some things you can only get at work. For me, it’s good coffee. It’s simple, but enough to get me in the office most days. With the draw card of your workforce, you can attract good coffee retailers and service providers. 

To take it a step further, work with suppliers on incentive programs that you can incorporate into the workplace experience. For example, reward employees with points and allow retailers to accept them for payment or discounts. This makes the workplace and surrounding area a more desirable location. 

Leverage your network

To support location-based incentives, we need location-based awareness. If you’re using location data for hot-desk tracking, capacity reporting, or any other facility-related reason, why not leverage the technology to improve the employee experience? If you don’t have location awareness enabled in your office, how can you leverage existing technology without having to roll out completely new hardware? 

The short answer is…your network. 

An intelligent network such as Meraki can provide location data without users having to download or open apps. It can be as simple as counting people in zones or as granular as tracking people to desks. With that in mind, I encourage you to think of user experiences around this capability, not just reporting and facility management. 

For example, an integration and automation platform like PlaceOS can trigger actions based on the real-time data Meraki provides to create seamless experiences like:

  • Unlocking doors automatically on approach
  • Allowing service providers to deliver goods directly to employees, wherever they are in your building 
  • Automatically assigning lockers that are closest to the employee and allowing service providers to use it as a drop box 

Encourage your employees to return to work by creating spaces and experiences they can’t get at home. Once there, provide a great hospitality-inspired experience. 

Or in my case, come for the coffee, stay for the collaboration.

To learn more about the PlaceOS app for smart workplaces or request a demo, visit PlaceOS on the Meraki Marketplace.

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