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 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!
In keeping with the age-old Meraki philosophy of empowering our customers to do more with less, people-counting analytics on MV12 has finally arrived!
We’re excited to see this new set of tools build on top of an already impressive (and necessary) security product. Now, MV12 can act not only as a great security camera, but also as a sensor for businesses big and small — no servers or extra infrastructure needed.
If you’re already familiar with our wireless product line, this rollout might feel reminiscent of our WLAN Location Analytics tool, and it should! At Meraki, we love the notion of providing our customers more intelligence with less infrastructure, an idea especially apparent with MR and now MV.
How does it work?
Using the advanced processor on our recently launched MV12 security camera, and built-in, anonymized person detection (not to be confused with unique facial recognition/identification) software, video is stored and analyzed on-camera, at the edge. This metadata is sent to the cloud and aggregated into people-counting metrics independently of the video itself. Plus, over time this software will become more accurate using machine learning.
To see this functionality in action, just click on the ‘Analytics’ tab for an individual camera and select the time resolution (minute-by-minute, hourly, or daily) and timeframe of interest. The ‘People count’ section of this page shows an at-a-glance overview of your busiest time period, estimated peak occupancy over that period, and the total number of entrances. Remember that the ‘Total Entrances’ value will double count individuals if they leave a frame and then return, since this data is anonymized. Consequently, we encourage thoughtful placement of cameras intended for use as sensors to minimize both double counting (place them in an area with restricted traffic flow moving in one direction, like an ‘Entrance Only’ door) and occlusions (where two people or objects pass in front of one another, making it difficult for the camera to see what’s going on).
Clicking on the ‘Most Utilized’ and ‘Peak Occupancy’ results will jump directly to that moment in the camera’s historical footage so you can quickly analyze what events may have driven that spike in traffic. Drilling down into each bar in the people counting bar chart will also take you to the corresponding piece of footage, making it simple to investigate anomalies.
You’ll now be able to observe and quantify granular foot traffic patterns through a given frame.
For retailers: monitor the ebb and flow of customers throughout the day, optimize staffing headcount to make sure your customers get the attention they need, and increase the efficacy of marketing campaigns by targeting days of the week with the greatest or least traffic.
In schools: track general attendance patterns, see which areas of campus are used most frequently, and make a business case for updating facilities and equipment based on usage patterns.
At offices: figure out whether it makes sense to add more common spaces, or repurpose these areas based on popularity with office-dwellers. And are those pricey espresso machines actually getting used anyway?
Of course, these examples represent only a fraction of the uses cases now available with this additional functionality. Coupled with motion heat maps (available on all MV models), it’s never been quite so easy to see the big picture quickly.
Does this mean my MR Location Analytics setup is now redundant?
Definitely not! Think of these tools as complementary. Because MR access points count mobile device wireless signals throughout a wireless network, they provide a broad “macro” level view of foot traffic through, say, an entire store location. People counting on MV only tabulates traffic within that visual frame, making it more accurate on a “micro” level, like an individual product display within that store. By pairing these two features, you can quickly gain insights across multiple levels of your business.