Refresh of wireless network and camera systems to improve coverage, reliability, and usability in keeping with the modern museum-going experience
MR wireless access points and MV cameras boost security with faster connectivity, greater reliability, and excellent video quality
Cloud-based management enables remote troubleshooting, which means less driving for technicians and more efficient MV cameras
MV cameras use one-third less energy than legacy cameras and, with a life-cycle of 10+ years, are more durable
All workstations are wireless due to the new efficient MR deployment
MV cameras can be managed and troubleshooted remotely, which has significantly reduced on-site visits
When it comes to security systems, quality and reliability are key. These are important factors in observing our environments and taking care of the cultural heritage work that we do. Based on these requirements, we chose the Meraki solution.
Head of Facilities, Serlachius Museums
Serlachius Museums, the brainchild of Finnish industrialist Gösta Serlachius, are a popular destination in Finland for lovers of art, architecture, history, fine cuisine, and sauna, located some 163 miles north of Helsinki in the small town of Mänttä-Vilppula. There are two Serlachius museums: Serlachius Museum Gösta, located in beautiful lakeside nature, and Serlachius Museum Gustaf, in the town itself.
Serlachius Museum Gösta showcases a wide variety of art, including works by European masters such as Claude Monet’s Haystack in the Evening Sun. Art exhibitions are spread throughout Gösta Serlachius’ former manor home and its award-winning timber-framed extension, designed by Barcelona-based architects Hector Mendoza, Mara Partida, and Boris Bezan. The museum’s famous restaurant features cuisine by Henry Tikkanen, recipient of the Finnish Chef of the Year award. Visitors can also enjoy the museum’s Art Sauna, which combines architecture, art, and design, and was named Travel Industry Innovation of the Year 2022 in Finland. Art Sauna was also given the award for Concrete Structure of the Year 2022 in Finland. Serlachius Museum Gustaf also hosts changing art exhibitions and features the history of the Finnish paper industry.
The museums needed an upgrade to their wireless network and camera systems to improve coverage, reliability, and usability in keeping with the modern museum-going experience. The museums’ former Wi-Fi network relied on Cisco classic access points (APs) that were controller based, including a high-availability pair on the controllers. While the solution worked well enough, network speeds were relatively slow by today’s standards, and there were dead zones with very slow speeds to no connectivity at all.
The museums’ camera system consisted of network video recorder (NVR)-based IP cameras from March Networks and Hikvision. From time to time, cameras would spontaneously disconnect from the network, requiring a technician to reboot and sometimes change them. The cameras had a relatively short lifespan, with about five cameras breaking each year and having to be replaced, and no warranty. There were also usability issues stemming from the fact that the cameras could only be inspected and managed via a Windows PC and not a Mac.
Refreshing network and camera systems in an institution featuring priceless works of art and historic buildings like the Gustaf Museum building—a pearl of 1930s Finnish architecture—comes with unique requirements. High on the list, for security reasons, is the quality and reliability of video recordings. Jaakko Karppinen, Head of Facilities at Serlachius Museums, made the decision to go with Meraki solutions at the recommendation of Jari Grönroos, the museums’ Core Service Account Manager. Grönroos was familiar with Meraki solutions and knew them to be extremely reliable and deployed in similar use cases around the world.
“When it comes to security systems, quality and reliability are key,” Karppinen says. “These are important factors in observing our environments and taking care of the cultural heritage work that we do. Based on these requirements, we chose the Meraki solution.”
The new solution consists of Meraki MR wireless access points and Meraki MV cameras. The team deployed more APs than in the previous solution, and easily switched out the old cameras for the Meraki cameras using existing cabling.
The new Meraki solution was easy to set up and deploy. After the core service team configured the MV cameras, it was a straightforward task for the electricians and core service technicians to handle deployment. For the first few days, both the old and new systems ran concurrently at the cash register with two monitors for the cameras before the team retired the old system.
Once the new solution was in place, the desired network speeds were achieved in all areas and the dead zones vanished. With the old solution, the museum computers were connected to the network via cables, but now they’re all connected via Wi-Fi with blazing wireless speeds that make LAN connectivity unnecessary. In terms of the MV cameras, not only is the video quality excellent, but the system records the video locally and in the cloud. “It’s a significant thing that we have the data stored in two places,” Karppinen says.
There are also sustainability benefits to the new solution. With the highly reliable MV cameras, technicians no longer have to drive to the museum locations to troubleshoot disconnected cameras or replace broken ones. And when issues do occur, the Meraki cloud-based management means they can be solved remotely. Karppinen estimates the new cameras use about one-third less energy than the old ones, and the team also got rid of the old NVR server, leading to further energy savings. In addition, the Meraki devices are more durable than the old cameras, with a life-cycle of ten-plus years with IT support.
As for aesthetics, the MV cameras have a slightly bigger form factor than the old cameras, so they don’t blend into the environment quite as well, but Karppinen says the difference is negligible. The Meraki system also works natively in a Mac environment, which is important for the team. One Meraki feature that surprised Karppinen was its ability to create heatmaps to count visitors and show where visitors spend the most time. “It was an interesting detail that we can benefit from in our operations to keep track of the number of visitors in different rooms of the museum,” he says. “This way we can see what people are most interested in.”