In adopting digital transformation, businesses increasingly rely on connecting cloud-specific services. The ongoing pandemic has necessitated, and in many cases, speed this adoption. By leveraging technology, businesses are likely to continue looking for ways to improve efficiency, and reduce costs, as they navigate these difficult times.
Cisco Meraki Cellular Gateway (MG) is built to address the growing demand for operational reliability and business continuity across industries. MG allows for better performance, quick provisioning, high availability, and redundancy in providing cellular wireless WAN connectivity to geographically dispersed networks.
As businesses are starting to take advantage of the advancements in cellular technology, we’re empowering them to be scalable. The shift towards the distributed application model, workforces, and software-defined technologies is leading to the increased need for API access to the network. The good news is that MG can be configured and managed using the Meraki Dashboard API!
What can the Meraki API do for your cellular WAN connectivity?
Through automation and integrations, the Meraki Dashboard API for MG enables scale, growth, and future-proofing.
IT teams can add new organizations, administrators, cellular networks, and MG devices across thousands of locations in minutes with an automation script. By automating network provisioning and bulk configurations, IT teams can minimize manual and routine tasks, freeing up time to work on more important things such as optimizing for better performance or developing modern apps. The Meraki Dashboard API also offers flexibility in cloning sites or developing templates to help you get MGs deployed easily.
Much of configuration-related set up such as DHCP, LAN, port forwarding rules, subnet pool, and uplink settings, entails repetitive tasks and is prone to human error. Network administrators spend a lot of time on these repetitive configuration and monitoring tasks that can be automated and made error-free using APIs. With MG, customers can do so via APIs to avoid manual error and service downtime—significantly reducing the management workload.
With the Meraki Dashboard API, one of our retail customers was able to rapidly automate deployment and provisioning at more than 2000 distributed locations nationwide. The resulting streamlined operations reduced overhead and costs for them.
Integration and future-proofing
The potential of the Meraki Dashboard API goes beyond faster, seamless, and cost-effective automation. Meraki API services are easy to use, easy to train staff to program with, and ripe for technology partners to continue to build native integrations on top of. For growing businesses, using these API services can significantly increase speed-to-market.
The Cisco Meraki Dashboard API is a RESTful API that uses HTTPS requests to a URL and JSON as a human-readable format. So, what does this mean for our customers? This higher software programmability using structured network data makes it easier to integrate with business logic systems. When building APIs, they can choose from a larger pool of skilled resources. Businesses can build their dashboard for store managers or specific use cases, allowing them to quickly add new services.
Lack of end-to-end visibility is problematic when troubleshooting network issues such as high latency and jitter. By monitoring the cellular connectivity and signal strength of MG devices through APIs, IT teams can save hours of troubleshooting. Meraki APIs make our platform extensible and allow you to be agile in responding to quickly changing business needs. Meraki offers a comprehensive platform that complements out-of-the-box management and analytics for Wireless WAN deployments with the integrations and solutions powered by Meraki APIs.
Hot on the heels of the recent product release, we have two more features to share. These latest features are designed to give users more of what they want – more detail in snapshots, and more video retention by increasing the relevancy of motion-based retention. We’re doing this by enabling full sensor resolution snapshots via the API, and by adding regions-of-interest to the motion-based retention tool.
Full Sensor Resolution Snapshots
If you have used the Sensor Crop feature on MV12 series, MV22, or MV72 models, then you may already be aware that the cameras capture raw video at the full sensor resolution (4MP or 2688×1520) before downscaling the video to 1080p or 720p resolution for streaming and storage. Now, users can take “full-frame” snapshots using the Snapshot API. The resulting snapshot will have a 4MP resolution, regardless of the configured video quality settings.
The additional detail in the full resolution snapshot can be helpful for identification, or improving the accuracy of results returned by third-party computer vision services. It’s important to note that full frame snapshots are only available via the API on live video; snapshots on historical video are only available at the configured video recording quality. This feature is available on all second generation cameras running the MV 4.2 beta firmware.
Fine-Tune Motion Based Retention with Areas of Interest
Our next feature is designed to make Motion-based retention more intelligent. When Motion-based retention was first released in 2017, it offered users a way to dramatically increase the retention of video stored on the camera. With Motion-based retention enabled, the camera retains the most recent 72 hours of continuous video, after which time it trims footage that contains no motion. The original Motion-based retention eliminated the majority of “empty” footage for most users, but what about instances where the camera detects near constant motion in part of the frame, from a spinning ceiling fan or always-on displays? Adding regions of interest — an option already available for Motion Alerts — allows users to specify where they care about motion, say at an entrance or exit. Motion that occurs in other areas of the scene will be discarded for the purposes of Motion-based retention.
To add an area of interest, navigate to the camera, then settings, and quality and retention. Once Motion-based retention is enabled, click and drag on the video frame to select your desired regions of interest. Multiple areas can be selected to allow for fine-tuning. Once set, only footage that contains motion within the selected area of interest will be retained after 72 hours when Motion-based retention is enabled.
Interested in learning more about video retention, snapshots or MV smart cameras? See our documentation for more information on video retention, or the Meraki Devnet site for more information on our APIs. Check out an upcoming webinar for an overview of our MV smart camera line. Let us know what you think about the new features on the Meraki Community page.
Organizations across industries are eager to build their Wireless WAN infrastructure on the Meraki platform and some of them already have a head start with our new product line – MG Cellular Gateway. MG provides a solution for optimal cellular signal strength. It gives our customers the flexibility of pairing MG with any Meraki or Cisco ISR/vEdge router or 3rd party router to provide another uplink for SD-WAN, or as a failover or primary link.
MG was only launched a couple of months ago and we’re already releasing new features. There is no better way to see these features in action than to try it out for yourself.
Quick network diagnosis
We’re always seeking to provide capabilities that truly add value to our customer’s business. For cellular troubleshooting, customers have frequently told us how challenging it can get without any visibility into the signal characteristics at their site. This lack of control leads to them taking a hit on business functions that rely on cellular signals.
MG users can now take advantage of this data within the Meraki platform to quickly diagnose what’s affecting cellular connectivity, or what led to performance degradation, through historical stats— signal strength, latency, and loss—that are visual and easy to interpret. By knowing how cellular connectivity is at certain sites at any given time, it’s simple to get to the root cause of network issues. Easy monitoring of live data along with the signal level, signal quality, and connectivity data could potentially save hours of troubleshooting.
It gets even better with an API-driven architecture. MG can be managed completely through APIs, giving customers the flexibility of custom reporting and integrations that they need. Stay tuned for more updates!
How to access
From your Meraki dashboard, go to Monitor->Cellular gateways; select the MG for which you’d like to get the health data, and then go to Uplink from the menu bar. Scroll below to view the historical and connectivity data as far as 30 days in the past.
As Meraki users are well aware, one of the benefits of the cloud management is seamless updates. We talked about the security benefits of automatic firmware upgrades in our recent blog post, “Security Starts with Simplicity.” Another advantage is getting new features and functionality without doing any extra work. Starting today, MV smart camera users have access to several new and upgraded features designed to make the solution even easier to use, and offer additional value.
Timeline Navigation Changes
The timeline may not be something people think about as a feature, but it’s a core part of how users interact with video. Our goal has been to make that experience as simple as possible. Natural language processing is one example of this — users can type in “yesterday evening” or “a week ago at noon” to access to the corresponding video. Now, users have new options for fluidly navigating the timeline using the scroll wheel on a mouse or the equivalent controls on a touchpad:
Zoom in and out by scrolling on a mouse.
Move forward or backward in the timeline bar by swiping on a touchpad, or shift+scroll on a mouse.
Finally, in a motion search, slider bars will appear on the timeline to indicate the time range for the results. Search results default to the middle 50% of the current visible timeline bar, and can be adjusted by moving the slider bars or changing the start and end date selectors above the motion search results. Refer to our documentation for more information on timeline navigation.
Motion Alerts 2.0
Motion alerts was one of our most requested features post-launch, and our engineering team granted that wish early last year. Alerts could be scheduled, and configured for the full frame or area of interest. When Motion Recap was released, images were included with motion alert emails to make alerts easier to understand. But our engineering team wasn’t going to stop there. They’ve been working on ways to make motion alerts better by making them more meaningful, and potentially reducing the frequency of false alerts.
Motion alerts 2.0 offers new tools to select motion sensitivity levels and multiple areas of interest, allowing for greater flexibility. The average expected motion alerts per day are now displayed in the dashboard, making it easy to understand the impact of any configurations made. For more information, check out our motion alerts documentation.
With this new release, MV smart cameras are getting a little smarter. In 2018, we announced advanced analytics with people detection. Now, using the same ML/AI capabilities, MV cameras will be able to detect vehicles in the frame of the camera. The vehicle detection model will be enabled on outdoor cameras (MV72), and vehicle count information will be displayed in the dashboard in the same format as people count is today.
The ability for the camera to detect vehicles opens a variety of new applications. In addition to being able to discover motion events with vehicles more quickly, vehicle traffic and trends can be easily monitored in areas like parking lots or garages. Vehicle detection data is also available via the MV Sense API, allowing for custom integrations and applications. Check out our MV Object Detection documentation article for more information on vehicle detection.
Camera Field of View in Maps
Rounding out the list of new features is an enhancement to maps and floorplans. In December 2018, we added cameras to maps and floorplans. Now, the camera field of view (FoV) can be displayed for easy reference. The MV32 (fisheye) camera view is indicated by a circle, while other models will have a directional triangle. Simply use your mouse to position the FoV as needed. You’ll find more information about placing cameras in maps and floorplans in our documentation article, here.
How will you use the new features with your MV camera deployment? Share your plans and let us know what you think in the Meraki Community!
When it comes to our favorite shows, riveting movies, or funny cat videos, some of us can’t get enough screen time. But reviewing security camera footage is another matter. When tasked with going through hours of video to understand what happened during a particular incident or situation, most of us want a way to figure it out as quickly as possible.
What if there were a way to see the entirety of an event in a single image? Motion Recap makes this possible.
Motion Recap takes advantage of the Motion Search 2.0 algorithm, which uses background subtraction to isolate motion. Imagine a person walking down an empty street. Things in the background — buildings, signs, trees, or parked cars — remain unchanged. The only thing that changes is the location of that lone individual. Now imagine that activity as a series of still frames. A Meraki MV Smart Camera analyzes those frames to determine what is the same in each — in other words, the background. When the background is removed, what remains frame over frame is the motion (the individual walking).
A lone individual makes their way down the street.
Motion Recap images are composite images, built in-camera, that summarize a motion event. In the example described above, the Motion Recap image is created by superimposing the individual on the background at set intervals as they make their way down the street. This image allows the viewer to understand the entirety of an event with just a glance, instead of watching a 30 second video clip to see that the person did indeed walk down the street.
The path of a delivery person shown in a Motion Recap image
Find What You’re Looking for, Faster
The new Motion Recap feature on MV smart cameras enables users to find answers without having to watch video. Motion Search results are now displayed as Motion Recap images, allowing users to understand what has happened in video, without ever watching it. Say you need to find out who placed this dog toy on the couch in the video feed below. You use Motion Search to select the dog toy, and the Meraki dashboard returns results containing motion in that area.
Who moved the toy? Isolating activity using Motion Search.
Below are the six Motion Search results, returned as Motion Recap images. We can see the toy is on the ground in the top left image, and on the couch in the bottom middle image. In the fourth result, the bottom left, we can see an individual reaching down to pick up the toy and place it on the couch.
Motion Recap images offer answers without watching video.
Motion Recap images are grouped by events, and each image contains up to 30 seconds of motion. Longer events are made up of multiple images. By selecting any Motion Recap image, we can scroll through to view other images, or watch the corresponding video for that event.
Want to see the demo in action? Check out this video to find out how Motion Search and Motion Recap solve the mystery of who stole the MV Gnome in our office.
Motion Recap image from an MV32 fisheye camera
Motion Recap is now available to all customers with second generation MV smart cameras (models ending in -2). Users can toggle between Motion Recap and list view results using the buttons on the right-hand side. Or, if you prefer the list view, disable Motion Recap completely on the “Quality and retention” tab.
Just in time for the new year, the MC engineering team has been hard at work building exciting new MC solutions for different use cases. Today, for businesses that have receptionists or executive assistants, say goodbye to archaic attendant consoles, and hello to the improved MC74.
For customers that already have an MC solution, call into the Meraki support line to have these beta features enabled on your existing hardware, free of charge.
The MC74 can now make and receive calls on up to 8 lines, to manage all the different phone numbers that your business runs on. These lines can be set easily through the dashboard. All inbound calls will indicate which number they are calling, and outbound calls can use a simple drop-down menu on the dial screen to select which line to use.
For executive assistants that manage multiple high-priority lines, favorite contacts can be set and seen in a separate tab on the contacts page. This will also work in the phone portal.
Not only will Favorites provide quick access to specific priority contacts, the Presence feature will also alert you to the status of each of those contacts. If they are on a call, the presence button will turn red, and if they are open to a call, it will be green.
However, even if someone’s line is available, they themselves might not be. In this case, receptionists may want to do a warm transfer and ask if the person can take a call. To accomplish this, we’ve added the Ask to Transfer feature, which allows you to check in with the person you want to transfer to, and either transfer the call over or cancel the transfer if the person is busy.
Not all calls that come in are urgent, and sometimes the caller simply wants to leave a voicemail. In these cases, we’ve built a Send to Voicemail feature that allows you to transfer a call directly to the inbox of any other MC74 in your network.
Not content with just announcing two new 802.11ac access points (APs) in time for the holidays, the team here at Meraki have developed new software features, soon to be available on all APs. These are:
Flexible Bitrate selection
Site Survey Mode
Flexible Bitrate Selection
We’re adding the ability to configure the supported association bitrates. When an AP is advertising its services to clients it will let them know the lowest possible speed (association rate) it will accept a connection at. This is important as a client would like the highest possible association rate, but this is dependant on how well it can hear the signal. As clients move further away from APs they will often get a lower strength signal and so a lower association rate.
Because of the shared nature of wireless transmissions, clients with low association rates can slow the whole network down. This is particularly important in high density environments such as public areas, lecture halls or conferences. By allowing the network administrator to choose the lowest association rate an AP will allow, the administrator can prevent clients slowing the network down. Setting a higher association rate can force clients to move to an AP which has a better signal and thus can support the higher mandated association rate.
Site Survey Mode
Planning, designing, and deploying wireless networks often requires important but time consuming wireless site surveys. To help reduce the amount of time and complexity involved in completing a wireless site survey using Meraki APs, we are introducing a new site survey mode. This will help ensure that it is easier to complete high quality surveys and consequentially install a high performance network.
The new site survey mode is accessed from the local management page on the AP and allows for important parameters to be configured, such as the radio channels and transmit power. Once this survey mode is enabled, the AP will no longer need a connection to the Meraki cloud and will not try to mesh with other Meraki APs. Once you have completed your survey, you can easily revert the AP to its normal mode of operation.
When and how it will come to your network
Both features are currently in beta and will become available to customers over the coming weeks. As with all software updates to Meraki products, this is a staggered roll out and will be automatically delivered to you at the time and day you select. Make sure to check your ‘Firmware Upgrades’ settings in your Meraki dashboard to choose when you would like your upgrade to happen.
Update: Cisco Meraki Presence is now known as CMX (Connected Mobile Experiences), a comprehensive location analytics and engagement platform ideal for both cloud-managed or on-premise solutions. Click here to learn more.
Working with our customers over the past couple of years, we’ve come to believe that the next leap in networking will be moving beyond speeds and feeds, and building features into the network that enable IT to solve new business problems and engage more deeply with users. We’re excited to announce Presence, a new suite of features that fundamentally expands the role a network can play.
Presence provides insight into mobile behavior across locations, and enables you to enhance your onsite customer experience. Presence includes:
Real-time location metrics displayed in the Meraki Dashboard
Cisco Meraki WiFi with Facebook login
Presence API, allowing you to integrate real-time location data into your CRM and business systems
3rd party analytics integration
In traditional Meraki style, Presence is included with the Cisco Meraki Wireless LAN at no additional cost. It’s 100% cloud-managed, and requires no additional hardware, software, or configuration complexity. You can try it out on your network today, or read more below:
Location analytics dashboard
The first exciting feature to highlight is our location analytics dashboard. Unlike traditional systems that require dedicated sensors and software, Presence analytics are available out-of-the-box, with no additional cost (batteries included, no assembly required). The Location analytics dashboard displays real-time metrics such as capture rate, median visit length, and visitor repeat rate for mobile devices in proximity to your Meraki access points. The access points collect this information and sync it with Meraki’s cloud, where it’s visually synthesized for you:
The new location analytics dashboard displays key metrics that measure the appeal, engagement, and loyalty of visitors.
This information can immediately help you make better decisions about how to engage your onsite visitors. For example, a retailer can use this information to gauge how traffic drivers such as in-store promotions, window display changes, or new advertising impact foot traffic to your retail locations, and whether customers are spending more time in your store. If you correlate these data with revenue data, you can notice if any upticks in sales coincide with actions you’ve taken to enhance customer experience.
And it’s not just retailers who benefit. Hotels can easily discover when peak hours are for lobby staff or whether guests spend enough time in the lobby to warrant opening a coffee shop. Other organizations can use the real-time location data to learn, say, whether a new building renovation has increased its utilization. Decisions about WiFi availability, physical security, energy savings, and more will all be better informed.
Cisco Meraki WiFi with Facebook login
Cisco and Facebook have partnered to let guests log in to WiFi networks with their Facebook account, creating a seamless experience for users, and helping businesses expand their social marketing and engagement. We’re excited that the flexibility and extensibility of Meraki’s cloud architecture enables this technology to reach thousands of network operators for the first time.
Connecting to Philz Coffee’s guest network using WiFi with Facebook login.
With this integration you will have access to Facebook Page insights, which includes aggregate demographic information of the customers checking in (furthering your understanding of who your target customers or visitors are). You’ll also get increased exposure on Facebook with each new check-in. When guests check-in they will land on your Facebook Page, where they can like your Page, and interact with your business. With these new connections you will be able share announcements, content and offers with customers who like your Page.
Configuring and deploying WiFi with Facebook login takes 2 clicks in Meraki’s dashboard: first elect to use a splash page for guest SSID sign-on, and then select “Facebook Wi-Fi” as the method for sign-on. It’s that simple.
Enabling WiFi with Facebook login in the Meraki dashboard.
Another exciting feature of the Meraki Presence release is the Presence API, which delivers all the real-time location statistics captured by Meraki APs to your custom-built application — providing unlimited flexibility for you if you have special requirements or would like to parse the data in a custom way. For example, you might combine our Presence and EXCAP APIs to prompt guest WiFi users to enter phone numbers or email addresses to gain access, enabling push notifications to staff when a top customer visits, or the delivery of targeted customer offers.
3rd-party analytics integration
Cisco Meraki now collaborates with best-in-class analytics vendors via our Presence API, allowing raw data collected from our intelligent access points to be parsed by these applications. Our list of integrations is growing, and currently includes:
These integrations grant you the utmost flexibility, letting you view our real-time location data in the interface you prefer.
We take privacy seriously, and have invested in technologies and policies that provide network operators with new tools while maintaining industry-leading safeguards on privacy. In the spirit of transparency, we have described our Presence technology and the inner workings of the Presence API in great detail in our Presence Analytics white paper. In summary, Meraki collects no personally identifiable information (e.g., we don’t see or store a user’s Facebook credentials). Clients’ MAC addresses, used to construct location analytics dashboards, are hashed and truncated before being stored in Meraki’s cloud so they cannot be associated with an individual device (i.e. there’s no data stored that can show that a given device was at a specific location.) Users can also opt-out of Meraki’s Presence data collection across all Meraki networks; we won’t store MAC addresses — hashed or otherwise — and Presence events will not be passed through the API.
Current wireless customers can call Meraki tech support now to request Presence functionality immediately, but a full-scale rollout of Presence is currently underway — so keep your eyes open for update notifications. If you would like to test drive Meraki APs in your organization, it’s easy to get your hands on some.
Join us to learn more about these new features at a special webinar on Thursday, May 23rd. Sign up for free — qualified attendees receive a free Cisco Meraki access point! We’ll also be diving into each of these exciting features in future posts, so stay tuned!
If you manage a K-12 network, keeping kids from unsafe sites may be the most important responsibility you’re tasked with. Kids are curious, and stumbling into seedy digital alleyways is easy to do. If you’ve ever wished you could barricade the Internet’s underbelly from creeping into your users’ online experience, or if you’ve ever wished for granular control over users, devices, and applications at the perimeter level, we’ve been listening. We’re excited to announce several new features for the MX security appliance targeted at the K-12 space. They include:
Improved content filtering, including SafeSearch (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing)
The ability to block encrypted search
YouTube for Schools
Group-based policy support
In a nutshell: these features protect your network from unsafe content and bandwidth abuse.
We’ve made several improvements to the MX series to strengthen content filtering. Appliances will now utilize real-time URL lookups with our content filtering partners in the event that a URL isn’t in the local database. This allows us to provide a significantly larger universe of content aware URLs while still providing fast filtering throughput.
Additionally, the MX series now offers SafeSearch filtering, which keeps unsafe content at bay. Simply enable “Web search filtering” in the Configure > Content filtering dashboard page, and immediately a SafeSearch filter will be applied to all Google, Yahoo!, and Bing HTTP-based searches. This beats manually configuring these browsers to filter unsafe content.
Enabling safe search filtering on the MX.
Blocking encrypted search
“Now, wait!” you say, “that’s all well and good, but kids can be crafty, too — what if they use encrypted search to deliberately look for unsafe content?” We’ve got you covered: you can enable “Block encrypted search” to disallow this behavior with Google searches (Yahoo! and Bing don’t support encrypted search at this time. Note, though, that due to Google limitations, this will disable access to Google products using SSL except Gmail).
SafeSearch filtering can also be used alongside Meraki’s regular content filtering to powerfully restrict unsafe material from manifesting in search results or being generally accessible.
YouTube for Schools
YouTube has become an increasingly important component of education, with thousands of free, high-quality education videos available on the site. The YouTube for Schools program allows students to watch educational videos while limiting access to other, non-educational videos on the site. With the MX, administrators can now enforce that policy for an entire network, ensuring that requests to YouTube are routed properly into the school’s YouTube policy.
Group-based security policies
The MX series now gives administrators greater control over users, devices, and applications. You can configure bandwidth limits, firewall rules, traffic shaping, SafeSearch and YouTube for School settings, and security and content filters for specific users, user groups, and VLANs. This allows you to translate the deep insight about the type of traffic and devices accessing your network into granular control at the perimeter level. For example, now you could have separate policies applied by the MX that give teachers one level of security and content filtering, while ensuring students are more restricted.
Group-based policies can be applied to users, groups of users, individual VLANs, and network-wide.
Organizations typically have several people accessing the same sites in a given time frame, and schools in particular can have entire classrooms using one web page or watching the same video. The MX series now allows administrators to cut down on their bandwidth bills and speed up the download experience with built-in web caching. Web caching allows frequently accessed web content to be served from the MX appliance, rather than the originating web server.
Current MX customers can schedule an immediate upgrade by calling Meraki support. We’re excited to offer these new features on the MX, so please tell us what you think!
If you’re interested in trying out an MX at your organization, we offer risk-free evaluations of all of our gear — and we’ll pay the shipping costs both ways — so it’s easy to see how well an MX can work in your environment.
TEDGlobal 2010, themed “And Now the Good News”, wrapped up with some good news for Meraki and TEDGlobal attendees using the conference WiFi. As part of the British Telecom Sponsorship team, fellow Meraki engineer Robert Shanks and I were on site to deploy and support the wireless network for this 4-day conference. To make a long story short, the wireless network performed flawlessly, with just over a 1,000 people connecting throughout the conference and transferring over 250 gigabytes of data.
The conference venue, located in Oxford, UK, had its fiber backhaul brought in by BT. The backhaul was then distributed to wireless users in the two main venues of the conference, the Oxford Playhouse and the gala rooms of the Randolph Hotel, through fifteen MR14 dual-radio access points.
We leaned heavily on the Cloud Controller to quickly deploy the network with a small team. Rogue AP detection and automatic channel spreading maintained performance while TEDsters blogged, tweeted, browsed and streamed all at once. While we trusted the Cloud Controller’s real-time alerts to let us know about unexpected changes (there weren’t any), we also kept tabs on the network’s summary report, giving us a good understanding of the overall usage and performance of the network.
Along with performance and usage information, the summary reports confirmed that the device-of-choice for TEDsters was the iPad, with well over 100 using the network. In fact, hand-held devices accounted for over 50% of clients connecting to the network.
We had a great time at TED, and were happy to see the Meraki network being used so heavily. Thanks to the team at British Telecom for including us!