Posts Tagged ‘wireless’

A different perspective

In March we saw a tweet that caught our attention from the team at Inveneo. Inveneo is a non-profit social enterprise that delivers sustainable computing and broadband to those who need it most in the developing world. They believe that improved access to technology can transform lives and opportunities, even in some of the poorest and most technology-challenged communities.

inveneo_meraki_ap

The tweet had a picture of a Cisco Meraki MR62 outdoor access point (AP) that was being used as part of the Ebola Response Connectivity Initiative (ERCI) project.With the Inveneo office just a 10 minute drive from the Meraki office in San Francisco, we went over to find out more about how they are using Meraki technology.

The ERCI project uses a combination of technologies to offer connectivity to relief agencies fighting Ebola in local communities. Rugged Meraki APs are used at the edge of the deployment to provide end device connectivity, with backhaul provided by long range wireless backhaul to cellular towers. Although not yet live at the time of our visit, it was fascinating to hear what features were most important to them, in comparison to our typical expectations of customers needs. A typical enterprise may be interested in performance and security as primary features, but when your APs have to be powered by the sun using solar panels, energy consumption is of highest importance.

Although not the instigator of the meeting, the conversation switched to Meraki Systems Manager, Meraki’s MDM platform. Inveneo exclusively uses Android tablets due to the ability to find low cost, locally sourced, or locally manufactured devices where Apple products are not available. Again it was interesting to hear the differences in the importance of pieces of functionality when compared to the typical uses we see for Systems Manager.

The use of MDM is focused on enabling and supporting the user of the device rather than securing and restricting. One of the important features provided by Systems Manager for Inveneo is a report on the battery level of the device. With disaster relief workers and community health workers often in locations with poor to no infrastructure, knowing if a user was able to charge the device is important in understanding if they are able to use it.

battery_level

Another useful reporting feature is to find out what apps users download. This led to the team finding out that one of the most heavily used types of apps was for a flashlight. Now knowing this, they can pre-load a flashlight app, and other apps they know are likely to be useful, to save on scarce local bandwidth.

We hope to catchup with the Inveneo team in the future to find out how the ERCI project progresses, and we would love to hear from anyone else who has innovative community uses for Meraki technology. Tweet us @meraki.

 

The benefits of integrated access point beacon technology

Cisco Meraki customers can easily future proof their networks for the needs of their business with the new Meraki MR32 and MR72 802.11ac access points (AP) that include built-in Bluetooth Low Energy beacon technology. These APs can be integrated seamlessly into any standard WLAN deployment, while giving customers a Bluetooth Low Energy beacon-enabled network, ready for the future. We see this being especially important in retail where iBeacons and other customer Bluetooth engagement technologies are rapidly growing in adoption.

What are Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons?

Bluetooth Low Energy is a recent enhancement to the Bluetooth standard which allows for the wireless protocol to be applied to new use cases which were previously not feasible. This is primarily due to the energy saving techniques implemented in Bluetooth Low Energy which reduce power consumption when compared to previous Bluetooth standards.

With the ability to efficiently utilize limited power sources, Bluetooth Low Energy is now used in a number of devices which need to communicate small amounts of data over wireless. It is now possible to have devices with battery life measured in months and years rather than days or weeks, while also making them smaller.

This has led to the development of beacon technology and its application in a number of situations. Beacons are very simple Bluetooth Low Energy messages which are transmitted or heard by compatible devices. This device could be a computer, a phone, a wireless AP, or a tag, to name just a few possible devices.

This message has three basic components:

  • Universally Unique Identifier (UUID)
  • Major
  • Minor

These components of the beacon can be configured with information the operator wants to communicate to other Bluetooth Low Energy-compatible devices. Typically this is in a non-human friendly form but it can be interpreted by a listening device. For example, in a retail environment it could be interpreted as:

  • Retail Brand (UUID)
  • Shop Location (Major)
  • Product Category (Minor)

When a compatible device hears one of these messages, a user-installed app which is beacon aware can interpret the information in the UUID, Major, and Minor identifiers. This could be used to trigger functionality in that app, for example it could display information relevant to a particular product in that shop, a discount to be redeemed at purchase, or a customer service interaction.

Is it worth using Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons?

Bluetooth Low Energy beacons are a simple way to provide mobile apps with location awareness that is specific to your organization. The low energy features allow mobile devices to use this functionality with minimal impact on battery life. The benefit of this is that apps can enable bluetooth on devices with little negative side effects and a positive experience to end users.

The downside for organizations wishing to implement Bluetooth Low Energy beacon devices is the scale at which they could be deployed creates a significant administrative burden. With a thousand, or ten thousand of these devices, even a year long battery life would lead to a large number being replaced every week.

It also means that when it comes to configuration, it can require extensive pre-staging and visits to site. Should this need to be updated in the future to meet new business needs, the costs of doing this may outweigh the benefits of making the change.

Meraki has solved the physical and configuration challenges of implementing beacon technology by integrating it into the new MR32 and MR72 APs. These APs have fully integrated Bluetooth Low Energy radio chipsets that works in parallel to the three WLAN radios that are inside.

Bluetooth Low Energy and beacon compatible Meraki MR32 and MR72 APs

Hear from Adam Weiss, one of the Meraki engineers responsible for the development of the Bluetooth Low Energy functionality in the APs, on the possible uses cases of this technology and the importance of an integrated solution.

By integrating the Bluetooth Low Energy technology into the PoE compatible MR32 and MR72 APs, the problems associated with maintaining a widely distributed inventory of battery powered beacons is completely eliminated.

The unique cloud-managed architecture of the Meraki MR32 and MR72 means that they can be remotely deployed and configured for zero-touch deployments. The APs can broadcast Bluetooth Low Energy Beacons with a configured UUID, Major, and Minor that is only set once for a whole network of APs. If these identifiers need to be updated, it can be done quickly and remotely through the Meraki dashboard for all APs, all sites, or even different countries.

The rapid software development cycle of the Meraki cloud management solution means that as and when new Bluetooth Low Energy Beacon features are needed, these can be delivered seamlessly at no cost to existing deployments. This ensures your investment in APs can provide the greatest value for the longest period of time.

Simple Standalone Site Surveys

 

In last month’s blog we covered some of the upcoming access point features, one of which was a dedicated site survey mode on Meraki access points (APs).  We covered an introduction to wireless site survey early last year with “From Site Survey to Flawless Wireless Connectivity”, but in this post we will further examine site surveying and how to use this new feature in more detail. 

Designing a Wireless Network 

The end goal of any site survey is to ensure the most optimal configuration of the wireless network for the given requirements. These requirements can differ from physical location to physical location and can even vary within different areas of a location. Often the requirements have to be balanced against each other to reach the most optimal outcome. The requirements can include:

  • Specific support for high density or real-time applications like voice
  • Location services and positioning
  • Outdoor coverage
  • Minimization of interference with other networks or RF signals
  • Budget

Designers of wireless networks have a number of tools in their armory to meet these requirements. Some of the areas a designer can control are:

  • The location of the APs
  • The number of APs
  • The transmit power of the APs
  • The channel the APs use

Site Survey – a Designer’s Best Friend 

Due to the nature of radio waves, it can often be hard to visualise how aspects of your design will work when viewed as a collection of numbers and PDF specifications. The physical environment also has a major impact on how you design the deployment and how the APs will work. Enter the site survey and fantastic site survey tools such as Ekahau’s Site Survey and Fluke Networks AirMagnet.

These applications and others like them, allow you to visualize your WLAN deployment before, during, and after its deployment. Invisible radio waves become easy to understand with colorful heatmaps. Site surveys can be divided into three types that are typically carried out in order; predictive, pre, and post site surveys.
 

ryan_site_survey

 

Predictive surveys use floor plans, estimates of building materials, and advanced algorithms to predict how the wireless network will look. This is based on the number of APs, their location, and their configuration. 

Pre-site surveys allow the wireless designer to accurately record the reality of the physical environment where the WLAN will be deployed. This can then be used to prove, or disprove the validity of the design that is often created by a predictive site survey. The pre-site survey is typically carried out by placing an access point of the model you wish to use, with the configuration you think is appropriate, in different locations in the building. At each location the wireless is surveyed by taking readings using the site survey software. This then uses the information to update its model of the design.


tripod

Finally a post-site survey repeats the measurements taken by the pre-site survey but this time with all the APs for the final deployment in place. This survey is used to prove the design is correct or help identify adjustments that need to be made. 

Although it is not essential to carry out all types of site surveys, it is generally recommended that at a minimum, a pre-site survey is carried out for any location with more than a handful of APs. 

Listen to Ryan, a support engineer in the Meraki San Francisco office talk about the importance of surveying for your WLAN. 

 

ap.meraki.com

To perform a site survey with an AP, desired settings are typically configured before, then moving it between the locations that are being surveyed. The AP is often attached to a tripod or other type of stand to simulate the physical position it would have when deployed e.g. wall mounted or ceiling mounted. To make the movement of the AP easier, it is not normally attached to AC power and is instead powered by a portable battery pack. 

Before the introduction of the dedicated site survey mode on the Meraki APs, it was necessary to include an additional equipment beyond just power. The reason for this was that the self healing auto mesh functionality built into every Meraki AP would try and repair the AP’s connection to the LAN. It does this by scanning for other mesh APs to communicate with when it can’t see a gateway. When this happened, it meant that site survey tools were not able get a reading. 

The new site survey mode allows network admins to turn an AP into a dedicated device for site surveys. When enabled the AP will broadcast an open SSID named “site_survey-” followed by its MAC address. The AP can then have the channels and transmit power set for both 2.4Ghz and 5Ghz radios. 

To access the site survey mode, wirelessly connect to the desired AP and enter ap.meraki.com into your web browser. Alternatively you can access the same page by entering the LAN IP address of the AP into your web browser.

local_status_page

This local management page on the AP is used for basic setup, troubleshooting, or for when a specific manual configuration is required. Choose the ‘Configure’ tab and enter the credentials requested by the login box. Once logged in, you can access the settings for the site survey mode.

local_site_survey_mode

Summary 

Completing a site survey is often an essential step on the path to an efficient, high performance WLAN. Ensuring your deployment is right from the start can save many hours of troubleshooting and associated costs later on. The new Meraki site survey mode will help make this process simpler and easier for anyone going through this activity.

 

New access point features coming to all Meraki customers

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.

survey_mode

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.

Check In to success with Facebook WiFi

cisco meraki image

Facebook now counts over 1 billion active users, so there’s quite a good chance that your customers have Facebook accounts as well. Now Cisco Meraki wireless can help you tap into the power of the world’s most popular social network to create real value for your business.

Facebook WiFi with Cisco Meraki adds a layer of security to your guest network and creates a better user experience for your customers while promoting awareness of your business and engagement with your brand. With only two clicks of your mouse, create a splash page allowing users to check-in to your business page in exchange for free WiFi. It’s one less password for guests to keep track of, and one more way to create a lasting connection with your customers through social media.

Product Managers from both Facebook and Cisco Meraki will be hosting the live webinar, and they’re itching to show you the benefits of this  partnership, including:

  • Using client demographic information to tailor user experiences
  • Increasing awareness through recognition on news feeds
  • Creating a smoother, more convenient process of granting WiFi access

Sign up now for July 17’s “Facebook WiFi with Cisco Meraki” webinar!

Mission Impossible: One Hour WiFi

We often get get asked if it’s really so simple to setup a Cisco Meraki WiFi network, so we decided to design a webinar to put this question to bed once and for all. In typical fashion, we did this our way—with a healthy dusting of fun—so we decided to design a webinar which would push our presenters to the limit. Could we configure an enterprise-grade wireless network in under an hour? We picked a date in the diary, and we began spreading the word through our usual social media channels. To our delight we received an tremendous number of registrations—perhaps they were all expecting Tom Cruise to make an appearance?

In order to put on a show worthy of the title, we developed a comprehensive demo designed to cover all the steps required to get a typical business-grade WiFi configuration in place, starting with a completely factory-fresh Access Point. Take a look at the demo rundown and ask yourself how long you’d expect this to take with the equipment you’re used to:

– Add the AP to a newly created network

– Place the AP on a map and an uploaded floorplan

– Create a staff SSID to include:

  • WPA2-Enterprise login with RADIUS authentication
  • Restrict all devices to a maximum bandwidth of 2Mbps
  • Block access to Facebook

– Create a guest SSID to include :

  • Login via Facebook Check-In/Code
  • Enable Network Access Control to check for the presence of antivirus software
  • Block adult content
  • Device-based group policy restricting iOS and Android devices to 1Mbps
  • Restrict total SSID bandwidth to 5Mbps
  • Apply traffic shaping to all video and music traffic, restricting it to 500Kbps
  • Configure the SSID to only be available during working hours

Just setting this up alone would seem enough of a challenge even without the strict deadline, but not for our presenters! After building this configuration, we asked them to bring the AP online so that it could collect its config from the cloud and we could test everything in front of the live audience using a real WiFi client device. Once again our team rose to the challenge, connecting an Android phone to each SSID and running through the configured features in real-time with many hundreds of people watching.  Pippa the cat played a starring role and really stole the show.

MIpippa

Even with all this work to do, the demo finished in just over 30 minutes, leaving plenty of time for the presentation and Q&A. Immediately following the webinar our  phones started ringing and feedback started to come in. It’s no exaggeration to say we were absolutely delighted by the response. Here are just a few of the critics’ reviews:

“To be honest we’re sold on [Cisco Meraki] now…It was was a very well structured seminar: clear and concise, easy to pick up for someone who has never seen the product before. Thanks!”

“Very well presented with a bit of cheese in it to keep you interested.”

“It was very good. I’m sure I will use Meraki for all my future WiFi projects.”

So there you have it. Clearly we have a blockbuster on our hands. If you missed the premiere, be sure to keep the popcorn handy and look out for screenings in your region. Alternatively, if you can’t wait for a live session there’s an archived recording of this webinar and many others at our webinar home page.

For now, we think it’s safe to say Mission Accomplished.

How Alvin ISD Exceeded Expectations for 1:1 and BYOD

student_ipad_school - 038

Have you ever wondered how simple it really is to create a custom network with Cisco Meraki devices that supports nearly 20,000 users daily? We were too, so we invited John Wilds, Network Manager at Alvin ISD, the fastest growing district in the Houston, Texas area, to join us for a live, interactive webinar to answer your questions.

John spent the better part of an hour describing the deployment of his network as well as its daily use, and we’ve highlighted some of his story here.

Why were you looking for a network change and why did you choose Cisco Meraki devices?

JW: We were running about 530 HP Procurve APs in the junior high schools participating in our 1:1 initiative, but we knew the wireless system wasn’t going to support the demand the initiative would generate. We were having a lot of dropped connections and problems with band-steering. 

We compared Cisco Meraki products, Aruba, Motorola, and HP in a WiFi stress test. We set up two classrooms side by side with 1 AP and 90 HP Netbooks each, simultaneously imaging all of them. The Meraki APs were clear winners with no problems running 180 HP Netbooks on only 2 APs.

Can you explain what the deployment process was like?

JW: Well we currently have 23 school buildings in the district with plans to construct more in the near future.  We had only planned to provide wireless to the 5 schools with  1:1, but with the affordable pricing of the Meraki products, we were able to do the entire district.

For the actual deployment, I simply hired student workers to install throughout the district.  I configured the settings from the dashboard and they simply plugged the APs in.  We were done in less than three weeks!

How have the Cisco Meraki devices changed the day to day within the district?

JW: Having the district covered in wireless has let us do more with technology.  And the reporting lets me see how the network and different devices are being used.  For example, in the dashboard, we discovered that Netbooks were utilized more when they stayed in a classroom, instead of with a student.  We altered our 1:1 plans and created Netbook sets assigned to classrooms.

We’ve also extended our purchases to other devices, matching devices to an educational purpose: Kindle Fires for reading, Chromebooks for content creation, Android, iOS, you get the idea.  It’s a device-neutral environment, we’re building the network to support whatever device needs to connect to it.

Last year we started allowing BYOD in our high schools and quickly expanded it down through 6th grade because of its success.  In response to security concerns, I can ensure network security and limit access to appropriate content with custom rules – it’s like having a firewall at the AP level. 

But the best part is the response to the WiFi.  The high schools were interested in which areas were strongly using BYOD and how.  Were students bringing in their own devices?  Were the devices being used for educational purposes?  What applications were being run?  It became a competition to see which of the two schools could utilize the network most!  I want them to try to hit the roof with network usage, it would mean that the network is being used!  We can always add more Meraki APs if needed.

img_alvin_isd_map

What has been the best part of management with the cloud management platform?

JW: How simple and reliable it is.  We actually have a part-time student worker that’s maintaining the network.  When we first deployed, I noticed that some of the APs were acting in mesh mode rather than running in gateway mode.  The Meraki APs were diagnosing our bad cables for use.  How long were our old APs running on bad cables and we never knew it?

Since installing the Meraki devices, we’ve spent no time at all on wireless issues, and we’ve had no complaints about laptops not connecting.  Wireless coverage is expected everywhere now, regardless of how remote the location.  The Meraki APs give us the ability to provide that reliable coverage anywhere.

Check out the case study to see more of how John is using his network to optimize how technology is used for education within his district.

New in Dashboard: Cloud-based location analytics

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.

Yes, there is a whole new page in the dashboard. You may have already heard about Presence, our new cloud-based location analytics and customer engagement solution. I’m going to spend some time diving into one of the most important Presence features, the location analytics dashboard built into the Cisco Meraki wireless LAN and available now to all customers.

We’ve aggregated some pretty cool statistics in order to give you even deeper visibility into what’s happening around your office location, business, or store. As usual, your Meraki wireless APs are going above and beyond passing traffic: they’re now detecting user presence based on probe requests seen from WiFi devices. Your APs can detect wireless devices like smartphones, laptops, and tablets—even if they don’t connect to the wireless network—and we bring you this data in customizable graphs right in the dashboard.

Appeal

Appeal measures the number of people passing by an AP vs. those sticking around. The obvious application here is for retailers who would like to see if a store is capturing valuable customers as they walk past storefront windows, but there are many applications. Check out how Peet’s Coffee & Tea, a national chain of cafés, is using Appeal to learn about foot traffic at each store location.

Appeal_over_week

 

We can determine how many visitors vs. passersby were near this Peet’s wireless network and what times they were there. We can even zoom in to a single day to understand what times have the highest traffic in order to optimize our store and business environments.

Appeal_over_day

We can scroll over any point in the graph to gain further insight. In the image above we can see that at 9 o’clock on May 3rd, there were 55 total passersby but 26 of these entered the store.

Engagement

Expanding on the Appeal statistics, we can also measure visit length by using the same WiFi probe requests. In the example below, we can check out the duration of stay at this same Peet’s location. Once again, we can scroll over to learn that last Friday, 48 of our visitors stayed 45 minutes or more, while most other customers had shorter visit periods.

Engagement

 

Engagement statistics can be easily used to dig deeper into retail and enterprise markets, helping retailers capitalize on longer visitor dwell times to increase sales. We have even added the ability to export these statistics for use with your own CRM systems or 3rd party retail analytics tools through the Presence API.

Loyalty

Finally, we can also measure new vs. repeat visitors. In the example below, we can see that most of our visitors are first time visitors, but about half of the customers visit this location once a month, or even daily in some cases.

 

Loyalty

This data is also great for retailers as they work to enhance the customer experience and reward repeat visits.

We are pretty excited about making Presence Analytics available to Meraki customers.  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!

 

 

 

You’ll like this! Cisco Meraki WiFi with Facebook Login

Update: Cisco Meraki WiFi with Facebook Login is now part of Cisco Meraki CMX. Learn more about CMX here.

A quick show of hands, please: how many of you are running guest WiFi for your organization? Free WiFi is now available in coffee shops, hotel lobbies, hospital waiting rooms, and retail locations across the country. These days, customers check for — and expect — wireless access.

Cisco Meraki already provides an intuitive, easy-to-configure solution for secure guest WiFi that many customers have deployed. But what if you want to provide a more seamless sign-on experience, or increase brand exposure via your guest access deployment?

Now you can do all of this, thanks to Cisco Meraki Presence, a suite of cloud-based location analytics and engagement features which includes Cisco Meraki WiFi with Facebook Login.  This feature lets your customers connect to WiFi by checking in on Facebook, using your organization’s Facebook Page as a splash page.

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.

Why this is awesome

Here are some benefits: first, you get access to aggregate and anonymous demographic data Facebook provides about your Page and on check-ins — statistics like the age and gender of those groups of people connecting. This helps you understand more about your audience, which can help you tailor customer experience and advertisements. For example, what if you’re a coffee shop and discover that the majority of your customers are women in their 30s? Maybe you make some changes to your coffee and food menu, or tune the type of music playing in your shops, or update the content of your Facebook Page to better suit their tastes.

When guests check in on Facebook, a story may post to their News Feed, viewable by their Facebook friends. People can see that their friend visited your location and “like” this story, thereby promoting your organization with virtual word-of-mouth recognition. And if friends of your guest are close by, they now know about your business and may decide to visit as well.

 FB Check in Blurred PM

Facebook News Feed event generated by WiFi with Facebook login.

Finally, you can provide an intuitive, convenient experience for guests trying to access WiFi — a smoother process than having guests ask a barista, lobby clerk, or employee for an access code and typing that into a splash page.

Configure in two clicks

Deploying guest access using WiFi with Facebook login takes two clicks in Cisco Meraki’s dashboard: first elect to use a splash page for guest SSID sign-on, then select “Facebook Wi-Fi” as the method for sign-on.

It’s that simple.

 

Just follow the link in Cisco Meraki’s dashboard to configure your Facebook Page and pair your Cisco Meraki network with your Facebook Page:

 

Available now

We’ve already begun a full-scale, staged release of this feature to our wireless customers, but if you prefer, you can get this new feature today by contacting Cisco Meraki tech support. Otherwise, keep your eyes peeled for Cisco Meraki updates soon!

 

 

Introducing Presence: Integrated location analytics and engagement

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:

presence-screenshot-crop

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.

Presence API

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:

  • Euclid Analytics

  • Nearbuy Systems

  • WalkBase

  • Nomi

  • Swarm

  • Boldstreet Wireless

  • Purple WiFi

These integrations grant you the utmost flexibility, letting you view our real-time location data in the interface you prefer.

Privacy

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.

Available now

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!