Cameron County, TX, deploys Meraki access points and security cameras
Wireless throughout county buildings, enabling public and staff connectivity
Meraki dashboard provides simple troubleshooting capabilities for the IT team
With well over 15 years of experience in IT, Juan Saldana understands of the importance of a reliable wireless network. Saldana heads up the IT team in Cameron County, Texas, as Chief Technology Officer. His IT team of 12 focuses on managing everything technology related for the county, from day-to-day tasks to larger network overhauls. One of Saldana’s first projects when he joined was to expand the wireless presence to buildings throughout the county. “Everyone wanted wireless but there was no direction,” he explained; only the health department, district attorney, and a single floor in the courthouse were equipped with wireless connectivity. With over 1,600 people in the county and device counts constantly increasing, there was a clear need for wireless.
Saldana came equipped with previous experience managing Cisco hardware, so when he learned about Meraki, he was intrigued. With a feature-rich and refreshingly easy-to-manage suite of products, as well as a cloud-managed dashboard full of capabilities, choosing Meraki seemed like a no-brainer for him and his team. After participating in a Certified Meraki Networking Operator (CMNO) training, Saldana felt confident that his four-person infrastructure team could support and manage any Meraki gear they encountered–sharing that “no one on the team had experience with working with any wireless product, [but] Meraki took away the intimidation of working with an on-premise solution…With the Meraki interface, it’s a couple clicks and you’re done. And it’s equally secure!”
Currently, Meraki MR access points are deployed in the county jail and the Commissioner’s Court, supporting mainly iPhone and Android devices. Saldana and his team are moving into a new six-floor building, which will soon be installing Meraki APs to support around 400 people. Attorneys and people in court can join an open, public network by clicking through a splash page to log in. The IT team has set up traffic-shaping rules to ensure bandwidth equitability, scheduling rule sets to allow access to the public SSID in the courthouse from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm, and firewall rules ensure people can access email and the internet. An internal, private network is configured to allow staff access to county resources with the use of a preshared key. In the future, Saldana will be upgrading to 802.1X Active Directory authentication.
With the Meraki interface, it’s a couple of clicks and you’re done.
Chief Technology Officer
Cameron County’s foray into Meraki doesn’t stop at just access points. Saldana and his team are big fans of Meraki MV security cameras as well. After about a month of testing the cameras, they plan on deploying them in the in the office of the justice of the peace, as well as in the new, aforementioned county building, which will house the IT team.
For Saldana and his team, cloud management from a single dashboard has been essential. Gear can be configured in the Meraki dashboard before it’s ever taken out of the box; the dashboard provides visibility into network traffic, which was previously absent; and troubleshooting has been a breeze. When employees in the Commissioner’s Court building told the IT team they couldn’t access the internet, the team checked the dashboard and immediately saw an AP was marked as red—it was down. After doing a simple reboot through the dashboard, the AP was back up and running, and the employees were able to connect—without the IT team even stepping away from their desk.
Future plans for the team at Cameron County involve deploying additional Meraki APs and Cameras to the new building. Until then, they’re excited about the connectivity and safety their new APs and cameras bring to Cameron county.