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!
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
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.
The goal of Cisco Meraki MV cameras has always been to deliver an exceptionally simple experience to customers. Unfortunately, running Ethernet cables across your site to power cameras isn’t always as simple as actually using them. For customers with existing analog camera deployments, the cost of recabling, the associated downtime in coverage, and the rigidity of wired systems were all common barriers for switching to an IP camera system that we knew needed to be addressed.
To that end, we designed the Low-Voltage Power Adapter (LVPA) and introduced wireless functionality into our cameras. Using the LVPA, you can now deploy your second-generation MV cameras without needing to run new cables across your buildings to supply connectivity. Instead, you’ll only need access to AC or DC power (e.g., from your existing analog deployment) and Wi-Fi to get your cameras up and running! This gives you the coverage you need, while minimizing additional overhead costs and downtime.
What does the LVPA actually do?
The LVPA takes AC or DC power input and converts it to PoE output, which is used to power your MV cameras. This eliminates the need to connect to an upstream switch or gateway, as would be required in a traditional deployment. Instead, the LVPA connects to a 12/24V power source, like an outlet or the power cord from an existing analog camera, and outputs PoE to power the MV camera.
Your camera will then use its onboard wireless chip to interface directly with your Wi-Fi access point for all video and data streaming.
You can monitor the status of your wireless configuration by navigating to Cameras > Monitor > Cameras and adding the corresponding columns as shown below. For more information on wireless configuration, read the MV Wireless Configuration Guide.
It’s important to note that camera function does not change at all if deployed wirelessly. Video will still be stored and processed on the edge, meaning it will be retained during temporary network outages — making MV a highly stable and secure alternative to legacy camera setups.
What the LVPA can do for you and your organization
With its flexibility, there are many ways that the LVPA can help simplify your Meraki MV deployment. For a bit of inspiration, here are some of the most exciting ways we see customers leveraging the LVPA today!
Upgrading analog systems – deploy MV smart cameras to get the same coverage with greater simplicity and security, with minimal disruption and downtime.
Remote and outdoor deployments – install cameras with the LVPA in challenging locations, far from the “primary” site.
Temporary site security needs – the LPVA allows you to bring MV and security wherever you need it, even running multiple cameras from one cell signal.
Flexibility and scalability – use the LVPA to add Meraki smart cameras wherever you need them, without being limited by your cable infrastructure or other hardware.
Zero downtime for critical cameras – the LVPA can help minimize downtime during building renovations or other disruptions.
If any of these challenges sound familiar to you, chat with a Meraki sales rep to learn a little bit more about what it will take to deploy MV with the LVPA at your sites.
If you’ve already installed the LVPA at your site,we’d love to hear about your wireless MV deployment on the Meraki Community!
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Now imagine along with each motion alert you receive from the Meraki dashboard, you simultaneously obtain a snapshot image from the camera feed to validate the cause of the trigger. Or perhaps you just want to call up a snapshot from your camera because you got word of pesky gnomes drinking tea in your coffee bar… again.
While you may not be trying to catch gnomes sharing a cup of tea together, the power of a picture extends into multiple situations and use cases. You can improve site visibility by accessing a snapshot of your camera feed on-demand from a simple text message, improve video analytics capabilities with third-party API integrations (click here for a cool example), or validate a motion alert with an attached image of the trigger event in your email notification. All of this and more is possible with the new Meraki MV Snapshot API.
The Snapshot API is a new RESTful API endpoint available through the Meraki dashboard that allow you access to a screenshot from your live or historical video. Once enabled, your application can find your camera through an HTTP POST request specifying a unique network ID and serial number. The camera will respond with a snapshot and expiration date after which the image will no longer be available.
Setting up the Snapshot API
How do you get started? Like otherMeraki dashboard APIs, API integrations begin by enabling your organization’s Meraki dashboard API access. If you haven’t already, do this by navigating to Organization > Settings, and clicking the checkbox to enable access to the dashboard API. Now, navigate to your profile page by clicking on your account name in the top right corner and selecting My profile. Find the section labeled API access and generate a new API key.
Once generated, you can use the API key in your application and submit an HTTP POST request to generate the snapshot of your choosing.
The Snapshot API has many applications, opening a huge array of cool use cases restricted only by your imagination. Get started by accessing MV API documentation and let us know how you plan on using this new API in the Meraki Community pages.
The “smart” descriptor gets tossed around the tech world so much today, it’s hard to know what, if anything, actually makes a device smart.
In the case of the Meraki MV security camera line, a mobile-grade processor on each camera means that the power of a smartphone is packed into each device, rendering onsite servers and special software unnecessary. Instead, users simply log into a browser-based dashboard to see rich person detection and motion-sensitive analytics. These tools can help with everything from keeping a campus safer, to streamlining processes in a manufacturing plant, to monitoring foot traffic in even the tiniest of retail locations.
Listen to MV’s product manager George Bentinck describe the benefits of a cloud-based smart camera system and see him demo the dashboard at newsroom.cisco.com.
Recently, the US Department of Justice announced The School Violence Prevention Program (SVPP). The first of its kind, SVPP provides funding to states, local governments, and Indian Tribes to improve security on K-12 school campuses. There is up to $25M available through the SVPP that can be used for funding up to 75% of school safety projects. Eligible projects include school violence prevention training; deterrent measures such as metal detectors, locks, and security cameras; and technology to notify law enforcement during an emergency.
At Meraki, we are dedicated to helping schools create safer campus environments. Meraki MV security cameras greatly reduce the complexities that come with traditional security camera solutions, so you can focus on other school safety projects and trainings, not on managing complex systems. Plus, with better video quality and easier video search functionalities, schools can find incidents faster, see anomalies in video, and quickly share footage with law enforcement. Better yet, MV security cameras are eligible for purchase through the SVPP.
The deadline to apply for SVPP is July 30th (just two weeks away). If you already have a security project in motion, then act quickly and take advantage of this great program. If you have been thinking about evaluating security projects, but are not quite ready to apply, that’s OK! Funding has been set aside for similar programs in the future.
Here are two things you can start doing today to make sure you are prepared for the next SVPP funding round:
1. Align with your state and local governments: Under the SVPP, school districts cannot apply for the funding themselves; state or local governments must apply on their behalf. This is intentionally done to break down silos and encourage collaboration between school districts and their local governments and law enforcement. Start working with your government counterparts to devise a plan to create safer campus environments. Whether that means giving law enforcement access to live video feeds or having practice drills to rehearse an emergency plan, government agencies and school districts should work closely together to align on their school safety measures.
2. Start evaluating products now: Planning for a security incident is no easy task. It takes time to identify the right systems, coordinate their installation, and train staff on proper usage. If you’re evaluating a new security camera solution, identify the best locations to place cameras for optimal coverage, who in your staff needs access to the cameras, and how you want to share footage with local government agencies. Once you map out your security camera design, deploying the cameras can be very easy. With Meraki MV, you just plug them in and they are ready to go!
Even if it’s too late to apply for funding this year, it’s never too late to start planning for the next cycle! To get started, attend our live webinar this Thursday, Smarter Cameras for Safer Schools with Meraki MV. We will discuss how MV security cameras are helping schools keep students safer with better video quality, easier search functionality, and advanced analytics. Register here.
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: Withzero-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 thesame 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!
IP cameras undoubtedly represent a huge leap over the analog security camera setups of yesteryear: newer cameras bring significant ongoing cost savings and simpler operation to the table. But one area where traditional IP cameras don’t improve on their analog predecessors is in the way they store camera footage.
Where analog cameras transfer footage to VCR-based solutions, traditional IP cameras usually store footage on NVRs (network video recorders). The need for an NVR in typical IP camera setups presents some critical downsides in terms of costs, reliability, and complexity.
Here are four reasons to say “no thanks” to your NVR and adopt a camera solution with a modern cloud-managed architecture:
1. High hardware costs
The more components in a system, the more expensive that system is to maintain and update over time. As organizations deploy additional cameras, more video footage is captured, necessitating greater amounts of space to store that footage. Though NVRs may not introduce too many costs for smaller deployments, the one-NVR-per-location model quickly breaks down when organizations have to deploy cameras across many different sites — a common scenario for customers in verticals like retail and hospitality. Storage requirements can also balloon with IP camera systems that don’t automatically delete footage that isn’t useful, like video in which there is no motion.
The need to augment cameras with NVRs doesn’t just add another line item to the BOM; it also makes it more difficult to scale because organizations need to determine in advance how much storage they’ll need per location. The result is often inadequate storage, a less cost-effective deployment, or both.
2. Restrictive remote access to video footage
Organizations with old-school CCTV setups typically don’t think twice about remotely viewing video footage; they’re all too used to the idea of someone having to be physically present in a control room on-site to watch video (after all, the first two letters in “CCTV” stand for “closed-circuit”). But one of the promises of Internet-connected cameras was that video footage would be easier to access from anywhere.
Alas, the requirement for video to be transmitted to and stored on an NVR in typical IP camera deployments limits the possibilities for remote viewing. That’s because accessing videos stored on an NVR from outside the network requires cumbersome and complex VPN configuration. Plus, all computers will need to download a separate, often unintuitive VMS (video management service) — yet another thing to install, configure, and learn how to use. It’s no wonder that most organizations using typical IP camera systems have adjusted their interaction style such that they are only using cameras locally. Unfortunately, this means there’s often a frustratingly long gap between when video is captured and when it’s been retrieved, converted, and ready to view — not an ideal scenario.
3. Potential data loss risks
A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and the same holds true for security camera deployments: if one piece of the system fails, the entire system is at risk. If for some reason camera footage can’t be sent to the NVR from the cameras (due to a network outage, for instance), footage is lost forever. Even worse, network administrators frequently don’t realize that part of the system has failed until they try to watch footage that was never properly transmitted to the NVR. The risk of losing critical footage due to a network issue is a basic failure of NVR-reliant camera systems.
4. Security vulnerabilities
Since NVRs are often nothing more than old computers running outdated software and collecting dust in the back of a closet, keeping them up-to-date with the latest security updates is a difficult and oft-forgotten task. This means NVRs can serve as an entry point for cyber threats looking to find their way into a network. Once they’ve infiltrated the network, cybercriminals can do anything from stealing corporate data and holding a business hostage to compromising sensitive financial information.
These aren’t just theoretical threats: in October 2016, thousands of cameras and video recorders were infected by malware and initiated a DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) attack against services like Amazon, Spotify, and Reddit. Unfortunately, even a single weak point in the network could open a company up to significant security issues.
By removing the NVR from the equation, organizations stand to gain a more efficient, reliable, and secure camera system. That’s only possible with a ground-up reinvention of the traditional IP camera architecture.
Cisco Meraki MV eliminates the NVR by introducing a unique cloud management model. With MV, there’s no single point of failure; footage is stored and encrypted on the cameras themselves, creating a distributed system (and consequently distributing the risk). Video is streamed securely to the Meraki dashboard for monitoring, where the cameras can also be configured and managed. And all system components stay protected from security vulnerabilities, thanks to standard end-to-end encryption and regular, automatic firmware updates. The result: a streamlined, simplified security camera solution.
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.