Wanted to consolidate seven different security camera systems into one
Deployed 61 Meraki MV security cameras across the city
Use the Motion Search and heat map tools to make informed citywide decisions
What if you could find out what animals needed attention at the animal shelter, which sporting equipment was used most frequently in the city gym, which parking garage spaces were available most often, and when traffic was the busiest around city hall — all in a matter of minutes, from anywhere? Although this may sound futuristic, government organizations, like the city of Fayetteville, are already using technology to solve for these questions, and much more. And they’re not using complicated IoT sensors or hundreds of software programs to do so — just security cameras.
The city of Fayetteville is home to 83,000 residents in northwest Arkansas. It is the third largest city in the state, home to the University of Arkansas, and has a lot to offer its residents and visitors, from increasing job opportunities to providing safe and fun community spaces. That’s why Brad Fulmer, Infrastructure Manager at the city of Fayetteville, knew he and his team could do more to benefit the community with improved technology.
From shadow IT to shadow security cameras
Several government departments, from City Hall to transportation, wanted security cameras to keep employees and constituents safe. So, they individually deployed security cameras in their respective buildings and areas. Unfortunately for Fulmer and his two-person IT team, the departments all used different security camera vendors. The IT team went from managing no security cameras to managing seven disparate systems, creating headaches for the IT team. Not only were they handed several different systems to manage at once, but the video footage was hard to access and poor quality, making it difficult to find important events. Plus, they had to go on-site to search video footage and troubleshoot problems — and as all of the security systems worked differently, there was increased complexity and many wasted hours.
Fulmer and his team had finally had enough. They needed one solution to manage the security systems for all of the government offices, while reducing the amount of time spent searching video footage. After conducting a Cisco Meraki MV trial, the team immediately saw how easy security camera deployment and management could be. They began completely overhauling their entire camera solution, knocking off cameras one by one until the City Hall, District Courts, Prosecutor’s Office, City Gym, Recycling and Trash center, Transportation Offices, and Animal Shelter were using the same security camera solution: Meraki MV.
When we got the trial, we fired up a couple cameras and had them going within minutes. It was just that simple.
Brad Fulmer, Infrastructure Manager, City of Fayetteville
So much more than just a security camera
The ability to manage all of their indoor and outdoor security cameras with a single solution was just the beginning. After deploying 61 MV cameras across the city, the IT team realized several benefits that they were able to take advantage of immediately.
Compared to their previous solution, the MV security cameras were much easier to use. In the past, when the IT team received a request to pull footage, they would spend hours trying to find the desired clip. But with Meraki, it only takes a couple of minutes. Even better, the IT team has almost completely off-loaded the security camera requests that come in. Instead, when they configure the cameras in the Meraki dashboard, they tag them to the appropriate network (separated by government building) and give access to particular users in each department to see those cameras. This gives non-IT users the ability to view, search, and export video footage on their own — eliminating the need to involve the IT team in searching footage altogether. For example, at the animal shelter, workers regularly use the cameras to check on the animals in the back and search past footage to find incidents, without having to bother IT.
We now give access rights to non-IT users and they search their own video footage. It took us out of the equation for the most part.– Brad Fulmer, Infrastructure Manager, City of Fayetteville
The IT team and on-site users mainly take advantage of two key MV features in the Meraki dashboard. The Motion Search feature allows the user to select a region of interest in a video, and only see motion events from those search parameters. This allows users to find relevant footage in seconds, rather than spending hours going through all of the footage. In addition to Motion Search, the team also leverages the heat map tool. The heat map functionality shows seven days worth of motion data on a per-day or per-hour basis, allowing the IT team to look at an aggregated amount of data at once to make informed business decisions.
The team uses these features in a variety of ways. Using their outdoor cameras, they can easily see who delivered packages, and identify the offenders when a package is damaged. In the city gym, the team uses heat maps to see what sporting equipment is being used most frequently, allowing them to plan more accordingly and replace equipment when it is worn out.
We use the heat maps to see what equipment is being used most often in the city gym. We can see which equipment is the most popular, and it helps the committee decide which equipment they need to replace more often.– Brad Fulmer, Infrastructure Manager, City of Fayetteville
Sometimes, they even use the cameras to solve minor problems. Some employees tracked a lot of mud into the building, and the facilities team used Motion Search to identify the culprits in minutes. Fulmer added, “We use to get requests to search for something small before, and would have to say no, we’re not spending time on that. But now, the division head or facilities manager can search for what they need very quickly.”
Continuing to make business decisions with Meraki MV
The city of Fayetteville’s security camera deployment has been very successful, so successful, in fact, that they now have a backlog of camera deployment requests. Government organizations across the city want Meraki MV installed after hearing success stories from their peers.
To start the next wave of deployment, the IT team plans to launch cameras in the city parking garages and recycling drop-off centers for increased security in these locations, as well as to monitor traffic patterns to see when the garage and centers are being most utilized. They also want to continue using the heat maps to make informed business decisions — like understanding when traffic is busiest at City Hall and make adjustments accordingly. The IT team is excited about the benefits Meraki MV brings to their organization and the community.