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.
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 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.
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.
When MV12 launched back in February, wireless functionality was mentioned, but the specifics were promised for later in the year. Today, the wait is over, as wireless functionality on all MV12 models is now available.
But why wireless anyway? It’s a great question, and the answer is rooted in the architecture of analog camera deployments.
Looking at the back of an analog camera, there are two inputs: data and power. Power for analog cameras traditionally comes from low voltage power supplies—the very same that are hooked up to badge access systems, powered doors, and other facilities infrastructure. Data is transmitted using coaxial cable.
Cabling for an analog camera system.
IP cameras, on the other hand, typically receive data and power via Ethernet, from a PoE-enabled switch.
Users looking to upgrade from analog to IP often realize that after including labor, downtime, and the recabling itself, the process may end up being cost prohibitive, especially at smaller or remote site locations. Consequently, it may not be surprising that these locations are often where VHS-based NVRs can still be found.
A new approach, and a new accessory
Realizing that a recabling requirement can often derail an entire project, we wanted to find a better approach. Utilizing over ten years of Meraki’s wireless experience, MV12 security cameras have been built to be able to connect to any industry standard WiFi network as a wireless client. This means data no longer has to travel via that Ethernet cable.
So how to solve the power dilemma? Starting today, a new Meraki power adapter is available, converting those low voltage power supplies (12VDC/24VAC) into PoE. Installers can simply unplug the power wires from an analog camera, connect them to the terminals in the power adapter in either order (the accessory figures this, and the input voltage, out for you, so no guesswork is required), and an Ethernet cable plugged into the RJ45 port will deliver PoE to a camera.
What about the data? SSID authentication information can be entered in the dashboard. After downloading this configuration through the LAN, cameras can be powered on with this new accessory within range of a wireless access point (it doesn’t have to be a Meraki AP, though centralized management of APs and cameras is a bonus if it is!). And that’s it—the coax cable can simply be left in the wall and will no longer serve a purpose.
This process is quicker, less expensive, and less disruptive than the typical recabling process, and will enable more customers to take advantage of MV12’s advanced analytics, easy-to-use interface, and centralized management.
When Portland-based Stumptown Coffee Roasters needed a security camera and monitoring solution for their distributed and rapidly growing operation, they quickly settled on Meraki MV. Stumptown was already using Meraki wireless, switching, SD-WAN, and networking security solutions in their retail environments, so exploring security cameras was an easy decision for Travis Luckey, Stumptown’s former Director of Technology. With their core focus on product quality, Stumptown’s team found real value in having the ability to monitor remote sites and processes while also minimizing the need for onsite visits and troubleshooting. Their cafes and roasting facilities are scattered across the U.S., making centralized management, ease-of-use, and straightforward monitoring from any geographic location key features of the solution they would need.
Stumptown’s headquarters are in Portland, along with some major operations facilities and cafes, but they also have facilities in New York City and Los Angeles, plus a distribution center in Seattle.
They needed a solution that would cut down on installation and configuration time while allowing the team to manage the entire operation from a centralized and/or remote location, if needed.
Luckey’s team loved the Meraki IT solution and wanted a camera solution with the same benefits.
The IT team wanted to be able to give different levels of camera access to various members of the executive, management, and respective operational teams.
Existing legacy systems were selected and installed ad hoc by local managers over many years, making it difficult to manage everything.
“Meraki cameras gave us the ability to deploy nationwide and centrally manage a single product platform for security footage.” – Travis Luckey, Director of Technology
An MV71 deployed at Stumptown’s Southeast Portland cafe and roastery location
The team installed over 50 indoor and outdoor Meraki cameras.
The company has standardized on Meraki cameras for their nationwide deployment.
MV cameras are used for both retail security as well as monitoring distribution centers (ten locations in total).
Anywhere from two to four cameras were installed at each site alongside a full stack of Meraki networking gear.
The IT team loved that there was no DVR infrastructure to install.
“[It’s so easy]…most junior level IT staff are able to do just about all of the configuration and management across our entire Meraki deployment.” – Travis Luckey, Director of Technology
A small number of dedicated IT staff are able to monitor locations all around the country with minimal training time.
Installation is easy enough that the IT team can stage cameras and then ship them to a non-technical Operations Manager for installation, at which point the IT staff helps walk them through the physical deployment.
Both Tier 1 technical staff (IT, technical operations, systems administrators) and Tier 2 non-technical staff (Operations, Retail Managers, and company executives) are able to have differing levels of access to video pertinent to their respective roles.
During a footage recovery exercise following a bank robbery near a Stumptown location, administrators were able to pull video footage in a matter of minutes; the police officer told Travis this was one of the easiest footage recovery cases he had ever worked on.
The IT team now has full visibility into the full deployment from coast-to-coast and can troubleshoot any potential issues with cameras or the network before they grow into bigger business problems.
Firmware and security updates roll out seamlessly, with little to no effort required by Travis’s team.
Using Meraki cameras, plus the rest of the Meraki networking portfolio, has changed the Helpdesk staff’s roles dramatically. They spend significantly less time troubleshooting, and more time on new projects. The change has been so dramatic that they have changed their titles to IT Business Partners.
“It was really remarkable how easy it was to troubleshoot a potentially business-interrupting problem. I fell in love with the platform at the moment I realized that.” – Travis Luckey, Director of Technology
It’s hard to believe, but IFSEC 2018 is just around the corner, and the Meraki team will be back for a second year. From 19 – 21 June, stop by Booth D520 at ExCeL London to chat with the team, ask for a demo, and see some of the newest MV security camera developments and feature releases in action. Get hands-on with MV12 hardware and see the tiny camera that’s shaking up the surveillance and video analytics worlds with built-in computer vision and machine learning.
The Merakians staffing the booth will be happy to answer all your burning questions about the rest of the Meraki portfolio as well!
With the launch of MV, Meraki has been hitting the road to showcase the security cameras at a new crop of trade shows, including both ISC East and West. Next week, the tour continues to the United Kingdom and Europe at IFSEC, hosted at ExCeL London 20-22 June. MV’s Product Manager George is packed up and ready to go along with our booth:
Come visit booth #F900 to say hi and learn more about our cloud-managed security cameras. We’ll be giving demos on how to use MV and highlighting all the newest features like optimized retention tools and more. Meraki experts will be at the show all three days to answer your questions not just about MV, but our other products as well (wireless, switching, network security, communications, and EMM, oh my!). As usual, we’ll have some Meraki goodies on-hand too. Can’t wait to see you there!
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 otherproductimprovements 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.
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.
Finally, 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.
If you still haven’t gotten your hands on an MV trial, be sure to contact us to learn more.