When Cisco Meraki introduced MV security cameras two years ago, the goal was to create a product for an industry that had seen little in the way of fresh, innovative approaches to solving common problems in decades. MV featured a new architecture that fundamentally made the business of installing, managing, and interacting with security cameras easier, more enjoyable, and less resource-intensive.
A year and a half later, MV12 came into the picture and brought advanced analytics to the MV family, including computer vision powered by machine learning—all without the need for any servers or additional software complexity. But with the introduction of in-dashboard analytics came tons of questions about additional analytics capabilities.
Today, MV Sense joins the MV family as a tool to help users create better, smarter business solutions. MV Sense is the first installment in a broader analytics category called Meraki IQ, a powerful class of intelligently processed data delivered via simple APIs.
Further underpinning this dedication to enabling customers to make use of cameras as sensors, the MV lineup grows to include MV22 and MV72, indoor and outdoor varifocal cameras featuring the same powerful processor as MV12.
The in-dashboard analytics tools found on MV smart cameras—motion heat maps and person detection/tabulating—can provide users a wealth of high level information about foot traffic and behavior patterns, but the use cases for MV’s machine learning algorithms are so vast and varied that we wanted our customers to be able to take advantage of it in their own way. Enter MV Sense, a new way for customers to interact with and build on top of the person detection data that comes out of MV12, MV22, and MV72 cameras. Each MV Sense license allows users to access person detection data produced by a camera (including location, time, and count) via a set of both RESTful and MQTT-based APIs.
This means that those once far-fetched or cost-prohibitive ideas can become a reality. MV Sense allows for solutions that do things like:
Trigger a special in-store media display to begin playing if there are more than 10 people in close range of the screens
Understand wait times in grocery queues around the world
Quickly understand and alert emergency personnel if there are people left in a building during a fire drill or evacuation
Set off an alarm if the person count next to a dangerous piece of machinery in a manufacturing facility drops below the safe minimum
The most exciting part? 10 MV Sense licenses will be included with every MV organization to allow for tinkering to begin right away.
Advanced analytics are now available on two new hardware models—a duo of indoor and outdoor varifocal cameras, MV22 and MV72. They feature not only the same processor as MV12, but also many of the same hardware benefits: audio recording, wireless capability, and 256GB of onboard storage, all with the added bonus of optical zoom, which can be configured and adjusted simply via the Meraki dashboard.
MV72 also features increased weather- and impact-resistance ratings from the first generation, IP67 and IK10+. IK10+ happens to be the highest impact resistance rating available, meaning those advanced analytics can now be deployed anywhere and everywhere.
The edge-storage architecture of MV smart cameras was created thoughtfully and deliberately to serve Meraki customers’ needs. This meant building a product that would accommodate those customers who had real-world bandwidth constraints and limitations. Still, there are times when it’s necessary for particular cameras in a fleet to offload their storage or have a backup of the data, and that’s where the cloud archive tool for MV comes in.
Cloud archive comes in 90- and 180-day storage options and can be enabled on a per-camera basis, allowing for custom-tailored storage solutions for every organization. This means that only critical cameras will back up their video to the cloud and bandwidth limits can be adhered to. Cameras will continue to retain footage locally in addition to the cloud copy, providing redundancy and greater peace of mind.
When MV12 launched back in February, wireless functionality was mentioned, but the specifics were promised for later in the year. Today, the wait is over, as wireless functionality on all MV12 models is now available.
But why wireless anyway? It’s a great question, and the answer is rooted in the architecture of analog camera deployments.
Looking at the back of an analog camera, there are two inputs: data and power. Power for analog cameras traditionally comes from low voltage power supplies—the very same that are hooked up to badge access systems, powered doors, and other facilities infrastructure. Data is transmitted using coaxial cable.
Cabling for an analog camera system.
IP cameras, on the other hand, typically receive data and power via Ethernet, from a PoE-enabled switch.
Users looking to upgrade from analog to IP often realize that after including labor, downtime, and the recabling itself, the process may end up being cost prohibitive, especially at smaller or remote site locations. Consequently, it may not be surprising that these locations are often where VHS-based NVRs can still be found.
A new approach, and a new accessory
Realizing that a recabling requirement can often derail an entire project, we wanted to find a better approach. Utilizing over ten years of Meraki’s wireless experience, MV12 security cameras have been built to be able to connect to any industry standard WiFi network as a wireless client. This means data no longer has to travel via that Ethernet cable.
So how to solve the power dilemma? Starting today, a new Meraki power adapter is available, converting those low voltage power supplies (12VDC/24VAC) into PoE. Installers can simply unplug the power wires from an analog camera, connect them to the terminals in the power adapter in either order (the accessory figures this, and the input voltage, out for you, so no guesswork is required), and an Ethernet cable plugged into the RJ45 port will deliver PoE to a camera.
What about the data? SSID authentication information can be entered in the dashboard. After downloading this configuration through the LAN, cameras can be powered on with this new accessory within range of a wireless access point (it doesn’t have to be a Meraki AP, though centralized management of APs and cameras is a bonus if it is!). And that’s it—the coax cable can simply be left in the wall and will no longer serve a purpose.
This process is quicker, less expensive, and less disruptive than the typical recabling process, and will enable more customers to take advantage of MV12’s advanced analytics, easy-to-use interface, and centralized management.
When Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters needed a security camera and monitoring solution for their distributed and rapidly growing operation, they quickly settled on Meraki MV. Stumptown was already using Meraki wireless, switching, SD-WAN, and networking security solutions in their retail environments, so exploring security cameras was an easy decision for Travis Luckey, Stumptown’s former Director of Technology. With their core focus on product quality, Stumptown’s team found real value in having the ability to monitor remote sites and processes while also minimizing the need for onsite visits and troubleshooting. Their cafes and roasting facilities are scattered across the U.S., making centralized management, ease-of-use, and straightforward monitoring from any geographic location key features of the solution they would need.
Stumptown’s headquarters are in Portland, along with some major operations facilities and cafes, but they also have facilities in New York City and Los Angeles, plus a distribution center in Seattle.
They needed a solution that would cut down on installation and configuration time while allowing the team to manage the entire operation from a centralized and/or remote location, if needed.
Luckey’s team loved the Meraki IT solution and wanted a camera solution with the same benefits.
The IT team wanted to be able to give different levels of camera access to various members of the executive, management, and respective operational teams.
Existing legacy systems were selected and installed ad hoc by local managers over many years, making it difficult to manage everything.
“Meraki cameras gave us the ability to deploy nationwide and centrally manage a single product platform for security footage.” – Travis Luckey, Director of Technology
An MV71 deployed at Stumptown’s Southeast Portland cafe and roastery location
The team installed over 50 indoor and outdoor Meraki cameras.
The company has standardized on Meraki cameras for their nationwide deployment.
MV cameras are used for both retail security as well as monitoring distribution centers (ten locations in total).
Anywhere from two to four cameras were installed at each site alongside a full stack of Meraki networking gear.
The IT team loved that there was no DVR infrastructure to install.
“[It’s so easy]…most junior level IT staff are able to do just about all of the configuration and management across our entire Meraki deployment.” – Travis Luckey, Director of Technology
A small number of dedicated IT staff are able to monitor locations all around the country with minimal training time.
Installation is easy enough that the IT team can stage cameras and then ship them to a non-technical Operations Manager for installation, at which point the IT staff helps walk them through the physical deployment.
Both Tier 1 technical staff (IT, technical operations, systems administrators) and Tier 2 non-technical staff (Operations, Retail Managers, and company executives) are able to have differing levels of access to video pertinent to their respective roles.
During a footage recovery exercise following a bank robbery near a Stumptown location, administrators were able to pull video footage in a matter of minutes; the police officer told Travis this was one of the easiest footage recovery cases he had ever worked on.
The IT team now has full visibility into the full deployment from coast-to-coast and can troubleshoot any potential issues with cameras or the network before they grow into bigger business problems.
Firmware and security updates roll out seamlessly, with little to no effort required by Travis’s team.
Using Meraki cameras, plus the rest of the Meraki networking portfolio, has changed the Helpdesk staff’s roles dramatically. They spend significantly less time troubleshooting, and more time on new projects. The change has been so dramatic that they have changed their titles to IT Business Partners.
“It was really remarkable how easy it was to troubleshoot a potentially business-interrupting problem. I fell in love with the platform at the moment I realized that.” – Travis Luckey, Director of Technology
It’s hard to believe, but IFSEC 2018 is just around the corner, and the Meraki team will be back for a second year. From 19 – 21 June, stop by Booth D520 at ExCeL London to chat with the team, ask for a demo, and see some of the newest MV security camera developments and feature releases in action. Get hands-on with MV12 hardware and see the tiny camera that’s shaking up the surveillance and video analytics worlds with built-in computer vision and machine learning.
The Merakians staffing the booth will be happy to answer all your burning questions about the rest of the Meraki portfolio as well!
Since Meraki launched the MV family nearly a year and a half ago, the wishes coming in from the Make a Wish tool in the dashboard have not stopped flowing. One of the most consistently requested features? Motion alerts. Today, this handy tool is available across all MV hardware models.
Whether for keeping tabs on valuable merchandise in a retail store, increasing the efficiency of a shipping and receiving dock, or keeping school grounds clear of trespassers, motion alerts have enormous business potential across all verticals. The engineering team behind MV has created an exceptionally straightforward way to implement alerts and we can’t wait to see how our customers use them.
Once a camera’s alerting schedule, minimum event trigger length, and alerting region have been selected, alert behavior can be configured on the Alerts page (alongside offline device alerting). The default alerting email(s) can be used, or add a motion-alert-specific email address for more granularity.
Each alert generated by the dashboard will link directly to the relevant video clip, no manual video scrubbing needed. Take a peek below.
Pro-tip: most major mobile carriers allow you to send emails to an SMS phone number (see the list of phone number “conversions” by carrier below). Take advantage of this “hack” in the dashboard to get motion alerts sent directly to a mobile device as a text.
We’re back at it again for Cisco Live! EMEAR next week — for the first time ever, Cisco’s largest event in Europe will take place at the Fira Gran Via in Barcelona, Spain from January 29 to February 2, 2018. Our teams have been working hard since the last Cisco Live! in Cancun and are excited to show you our latest announcements.
You can’t miss Meraki’s booth right at the entrance to the World of Solutions. We’ll be fully stocked with 9 one-to-one demos; live cameras to showcase in-booth; technical sessions; an Innovation Showcase by our SVP, Todd Nightingale; dedicated demo and workshops in the DevNet Zone; as well as a packed schedule of customer meetings and fully sold-out customer party.
It’s not too late to sign up for some of our technical sessions at the event. Take a look at the Session Catalog today to register!
The DevNet Zone at Cisco Live! Barcelona is an area for engineers and developers to come together and innovate using Cisco technologies and platforms. In addition to our demo pod, where you can meet our team and get a personalized demo, we have a variety of workshops below that are still open for registration. Sign up today!
Tuesday, January 30 9:00 – 9:45 AM & 5:00 – 5:45 PM: Automation with Meraki Provisioning API (Courtney Batiste, Solutions Architect)
5:00 – 5:45 PM: Everything about Bluetooth Apps and Asset Tracking (Colin Lowenberg, Solutions Architect)
Wednesday, January 31 9:00 – 9:45 AM: Analytics with Meraki CMX Location API (Cory Guynn, Solutions Architect)
Thursday, February 1 9:00 – 9:45 AM: Analytics with Meraki CMX Location API (Cory Guynn, Solutions Architect)
Crediton Dairy in Devon, England, is a major supplier of milk products to grocery stores across the UK. The milk processing plant employs about 160 workers in both factory and office roles. When IT Manager Benjamin Evans and his team realized it was time to upgrade their existing CCTV system, they looked to Meraki, whose access points they had already been using.
The team had a dated CCTV system that was only deployed in a couple of areas around the facility.
The processing plant spans a large area and contains several tall structures, like silos, making it difficult to survey multiple areas at once.
A constant stream of lorries (or delivery trucks) driving through the facility introduces potential safety hazards for workers.
An initial deployment of 16 MV71 cameras helps cover a majority of external areas.
Benji and the team relied heavily on the Meraki mobile app when physically installing cameras.
“Literally plug it in, and it’s up and running.”
The Operations team, as well as the Health & Safety team, utilize the camera feeds to monitor potential hazards throughout the site, such as high traffic areas.
The team already encountered and resolved one incident involving a lorry driving into a barrier with the help of their MV deployment. They were able to prove the cause of the accident and assign liability accordingly.
Benji and his team have saved both time and money due to the “plug-and-play” nature of the cameras, and the lack of extraneous hardware, like a UPS.
The architecture of the cameras allows the team to monitor video feeds locally without impacting the company’s bandwidth usage.
The team is exploring the possibility of expanding their deployment into the factory to help monitor processes and ensure employee safety, both inside and outside the facility.
With the launch of MV, Meraki has been hitting the road to showcase the security cameras at a new crop of trade shows, including both ISC East and West. Next week, the tour continues to the United Kingdom and Europe at IFSEC, hosted at ExCeL London 20-22 June. MV’s Product Manager George is packed up and ready to go along with our booth:
Come visit booth #F900 to say hi and learn more about our cloud-managed security cameras. We’ll be giving demos on how to use MV and highlighting all the newest features like optimized retention tools and more. Meraki experts will be at the show all three days to answer your questions not just about MV, but our other products as well (wireless, switching, network security, communications, and EMM, oh my!). As usual, we’ll have some Meraki goodies on-hand too. Can’t wait to see you there!
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.
Imagine walking into a room full of your closest colleagues, only to see them huddled around a desk and crouched over a laptop with multiple routers on the side. Now imagine this room is not your office, but actually a hotel room in a completely different city.
And those routers? Those are but a small fraction of the devices still stacked up against the wall waiting to be configured. Your role? Getting ready to join your colleagues, not for a LAN party, but a Router Party.
IT team member configuring devices in a hotel in San Francisco in 2011.
For Randy Haan, Director of Infrastructure – Western Region at The Salvation Army, Router Parties occurred quite often, happening as early as 2007. In a webinar on March 22nd, at 11 AM PT, Haan was joined by a Cisco Meraki Product Specialist to share more about the need for Router Parties and what they were like, as well as how Meraki helped them transition from in-person configurations to a simple, easy-to-use dashboard.
The Salvation Army, a non-profit organization with the mission to “Do The Most Good,” is dedicated to feeding, clothing, comforting, and caring for those in need throughout the world. Haan, who oversees the Western Region in the U.S., manages a widely dispersed network that extends from Montana to as far as Guam. This poses a geographical challenge for Haan, as his lean team manages over 600 locations of thrift stores, youth centers, and elderly care facilities dispersed throughout the region.
Stacked devices to be configured in a hotel in San Francisco in 2011.
Haan hosted these parties to maintain consistency and accuracy for each of the device configurations. The team would be sent to a single location in cities like Portland, Phoenix, and San Francisco, where they would post up, un-box, and start configuring.
List of devices to configure during a Router Party in 2013.
There was always a large number of devices being configured for hundreds of sites, which meant the team was usually up “configuring boxes until 2 AM,” as Haan described it. But that’s what needed to be done. At the end of each Router Party, Haan and his team would re-box and ship them to each location.
Then one day, someone brought in a Cisco Meraki wireless AP. “It was cute and nice, but we were a full shop with the previous vendor at the time, and we weren’t willing to change that,” explained Haan. However, after they experienced a “catastrophic failure” of their network infrastructure, Haan decided to give Meraki a try.
Since then, everything has changed. By introducing Meraki, Haan not only changed the network infrastructure of the Western Region, but he also changed the philosophy and mindset with his team about what IT management meant, and how simplicity does not have to mean less powerful technology.
Today, The Salvation Army is a full Meraki shop with MX security appliances, MR wireless APs, and MS switches. They’re also trialing Systems Manager for enterprise mobility management, as well as MV security cameras. Watch our webinar from March 22nd at 11 AM PT, to hear from Haan about the unique challenges The Salvation Army faced, and how they use Meraki to build a reliable infrastructure and positively impact the business.