Posts Tagged ‘physical security’

Integrating MV Smart Cameras with Access Control

A puzzle is a picture broken up into hundreds of pieces. An individual piece doesn’t offer much insight into the big picture, but as more pieces are connected, the story becomes clearer. Physical security is similar in that one piece of information about a single event doesn’t always provide a clear picture of what actually happened.

Say that a security team receives an alert with two pieces of information:

  • A door was propped open for 60 seconds.
  • An employee badge, Sarah’s to be specific, was used to unlock the door.  

What should the security team do? The answer depends on the circumstances. Was it actually Sarah using her badge? Why was the door open for so long? Was there tailgating, and if so, who else came in? Video can help answer these questions, but how do you know when and where to look? To make sense of events faster and get the complete picture, video and access control systems need to work together.

Get Answers More Quickly

Fortunately, Meraki MV smart camera APIs make it easy to provide video context to establish the validity of things like access control logs. The video link API can be used to pair video footage with access control events. The snapshot API can retrieve a snapshot from the relevant camera for more immediate context on a given event, in this case a person badging in. 

This means when there is an alert, or an event needs to be reviewed, it’s easy for the user to quickly understand what happened. With this type of integration in the scenario above, security could have easily looked at the snapshot or accessed the relevant video in the dashboard to verify that it was Sarah using her badge, and that she propped open the door to carry in a couple of boxes. 

The Sequr Platform make it easy to access relevant video from your MV smart cameras

MV Integration is Built into the Sequr Platform

While the APIs are available for anyone to use, Sequr has made it even easier for customers using their cloud access control system. The Sequr platform integration with Meraki MV smart cameras make it quick and easy to get started. Once the API key has been entered, simply map cameras to doors and start monitoring access control logs with Meraki MV smart cameras. 

In the Sequr platform, a video link to the relevant feed will appear next to each event. Selecting the link will launch the camera in the Meraki dashboard and play video for the event. Sequr users can also configure the system to create a short video clip, viewable in the Sequr platform. The videos can also be included in alerts, sent via email or to a messaging platform, making it even easier for teams to quickly assess events. 

MV smart camera video clips can be included with alerts on the Sequr platform

To learn more about our MV smart camera APIs, visit the Meraki Developer Hub on DevNet. To learn more about the Sequr cloud access control system, check out the Meraki Marketplace.

Look Ma, no wires!

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.

To learn more, check out our free launch webinar or get in touch with your sales rep!

Stumptown Coffee Roasters: an MV Case Study

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.

Original Challenges

  • 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 Deployment

  • 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

 

Results

  • 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


To learn more about Meraki MV security cameras and how they provide both physical security and advanced analytics in a single package, check out our catalog of free webinars or get in touch with your Meraki rep today.

Smarter Cameras for Safer Schools: Exclusive Education Pricing for Meraki MV

Imagine managing your school’s security cameras from an intuitive, web-based dashboard with no NVR, no software downloads, and secure remote access to video footage from anywhere. Sound too good to be true?

Cisco Meraki MV security cameras are changing the way schools think about video surveillance. With Meraki MV, schools can keep students safer by proactively helping with threat detection and security and IT teams can make informed decisions with integrated analytics, which require no servers. MV is easy to deploy and manage, and specifically built with lean IT teams in mind. Here are five reasons why you should consider Meraki MV security cameras for your school or campus’ next deployment:

  • Simple Deployment: With zero-touch deployment, using just serial numbers an administrator can add devices to the Meraki dashboard and begin configuration before the hardware even arrives on campus. Ship cameras directly to each school site and have them up and running quickly.
  • No NVR: All of the video footage is locally stored and encrypted on the camera, removing the need for expensive and complicated NVRs or DVRs. This not only adds additional security, but allows for simple camera deployment and management. It also means districts can easily scale from one school deployment to 50, without breaking a sweat.
  • Web-Based Monitoring: Manage your security cameras from the same intuitive, web-based dashboard where you manage the rest of your Meraki products. MV removes the need for a security monitoring room or complex VPN configuration; all you need is a web-browser to watch and monitor video footage. Easily make custom video walls and find important events with Motion Search all from the dashboard. Plus, the dashboard cuts down on training time for the administrators and staff interfacing with the system.
  • Granular Access Controls: It’s not just the security guard who needs access anymore. From the principal or president down to the teacher or custodian, give different people customizable levels of access to all of the school’s cameras, or select cameras by tag, in just a few clicks.  
  • Built-in Analytics: MV goes beyond just security; it utilizes a powerful onboard processor to analyze video and provide valuable insights without the need to send those video files to the cloud or a local server. Easily see where students are congregating or walking with motion heat maps. Detect how many people are in a classroom or hallway with people detection.

Schools across the world are deploying Meraki MV to simplify security camera management and keep their students safer. At Reading School District, CR Hiestand and his team use the Motion Search tool to isolate incidents and find what they are looking for in under 20 minutes, rather than searching through hours of video footage. Plus, security guards, principals and school administrators can view footage from a tablet or PC, without having to go to the video monitoring room. At Sweet Briar College, Aaron Mahler has indoor and outdoor MV security cameras deployed across the campus to keep students safe, while providing network admins with an easy to manage solution through an intuitive web-based interface they can access from anywhere.

From May 9th until October 27th, 2018, Meraki is offering exclusive pricing for MV security cameras for education in the United States. Just contact your Meraki sales rep to get started!

To learn more about Meraki MV for education, watch the webinar recording.

For more information about Meraki MV, read our Meraki MV for K-12 Solution Guide or Meraki MV for Higher Education Solution Guide.

Did Somebody Ask for More Video Storage?

Security cameras can serve a multitude of different functions, from providing live footage to a security guard, to analyzing customer behavior in a retail location, to supplying evidence in a liability claim. With each of these use cases comes a different retention policy. Scheduled recording and motion-based retention, both available in public beta now, allow users to customize their camera settings to match their specific retention needs.

Hot on the heels of some other product improvements in just the last couple of months, the engineering team has worked tirelessly to produce features that would help accommodate the most commonly received request from MV customers.

Scheduled recording minimizes extraneous recording for customers who only use cameras during certain hours—think process controls in a factory—with the potential to greatly extend storage duration. Plus, scheduled recording can be used to disable historical footage altogether in instances where only live footage is needed and/or permissible.

Motion-based retention works differently than other motion-based recording solutions on the market. Instead of triggering a camera to record only when it senses motion, which can often result in false negatives and lost footage, MV uses a hybrid cloud processing approach to give a more reliable result. MV will record all footage and then, using the same motion indexing engine as the Motion Search tool, will gradually and intelligently trim segments of footage which contain no motion. This gives users the flexibility to retain the most recent 72 continuous hours for extra security before trimming out the motionless video. This approach also means that motion-containing video segments can be better padded to ensure no valuable footage is lost.

Based on the motion data from all cameras that have been deployed since launch in October, 95% of MVs are expected to record 30 days or more at Standard image quality.

To enable schedules and motion-based retention, simply choose a camera and go to its settings page. Select the “Quality and Retention” tab. To create a new schedule, select “Scheduled” and “Change Schedules.” Select an already-created schedule te  mplate, or “New schedule.” Then, just drag the time sliders to adjust when cameras are recording. Click on any timeline to create multiple recording segments in one day.

MV scheduled recording

Motion-based retention can also be enabled on this page. The chart on this page shows how much motion that specific camera actually captured in the past week. Based on an average of the same time period, the dashboard will provide an estimate of the total retention capacity for the selected camera. Adjusting the image quality from Standard to Enhanced will also affect this value. Use scheduled recording in conjunction with motion-based retention to build the retention plan that works best for you.

MV beta firmware opt-inFinally, video exports now feature timestamps embedded as watermarks. This small-but-mighty feature update will help provide users a more robust experience, should video need to be shared as evidence with law enforcement. Timestamps include the camera name, date, time, and timezone to ensure absolute clarity when reviewing footage.

Optimized retention is now available in beta. To take advantage of this functionality in your network, go to Network-wide, then click General. At the bottom of the page, select “Yes” in the dropdown menu next to ‘Try beta firmware.’ Please proceed with caution, however, if your cameras are housed in a combined network, as enabling this setting will apply to all device types in that network, not just cameras.Screen Shot 2017-05-09 at 11.12.14 AM

If you still haven’t gotten your hands on an MV trial, be sure to contact us to learn more.