Aug 16 2019

Review: Cisco Meraki MV12 Camera Provides Much More Than Security

With built-in analytics and AI, businesses get insights into customer needs and traffic, and staff gets urgent alerts.

Almost every business, and certainly every retail store, deploys some form of video surveillance. But most of the time, cameras don’t provide much value beyond theft prevention.

Cisco has found a way to change that with the new Cisco Meraki MV12W minidome camera. Armed with onboard analytics, it can analyze customer foot traffic, figure out demographic information or even alert staffers that someone might need assistance.

It also functions extremely well as a security camera at the same time, especially with its night vision capabilities, which operate in total darkness.

Although tiny and unobtrusive, every MV12W is like a miniature surveillance system. It has 256 gigabytes of internal storage and connects to the rest of the network through a CAT 5 cable, which also allows for cloud backup and supports Power over Ethernet.

Setup of one or 100 MV12Ws is extremely easy using the Cisco Meraki dashboard, which can also manage other Cisco equipment. It’s easy to configure video walls to watch over different sections of a facility, and no special equipment is required to watch live or recorded feeds. Any user with access can tap into the system using a browser or smartphone.

Cisco Meraki MV12W


Security Camera With Intelligence Built In

Beyond just recording video, the MV12W has built-in intelligence that can generate heat maps of a retail store, showing how customers move around and where they stop to browse. Store managers building a new display can check the daily heat map to see if it’s likely to catch a lot of eyes.

The MV12W can also send out alerts to staff. For example, if a customer stops in one place and stands there for a certain amount of time, that might indicate that he or she is either really interested in an item displayed there or possibly confused. A sales associate could be summoned by the camera to check. And an open application programming interface allows custom apps to be written to add even more functionality.

The MV12W might be tiny, but it has a lot of intelligence packed inside, and is extremely easy to use. Since stores need to install cameras anyway, going with the new Cisco offering can provide more bang for the buck by making the surveillance system perform double duty as a marketing and customer service helper.

LEARN MORE: How to use video analytics to improve business decisions

Create Custom Capabilities with the MV12W’s Open API

The MV Sense open API allows IT teams to tap into the built-in analytics and machine learning capabilities of the camera to create new uses and applications.

Unlike the rest of the package, using the MV API probably requires someone with at least some programming skill or training on how to work with APIs. That said, because the camera already has a lot of capabilities built into it, it’s more a matter of linking functions together than building an app from scratch.

Because the camera has a wide-angle lens and high-resolution recording, there is a lot that it can potentially do. For example, you could record what a store’s shelf is supposed to look like and then have the MV12W check it every so often. If the shelf gets messy or starts to empty, it can recognize the problem and summon someone to address it.

In fact, the MV12W’s potential is limited one by the imagination — and to some extent, the skill — of the IT staff.

Cisco Meraki MV12W

Dimensions: 4.2x4.2x2.9 inches 
Weight: 10.09 ounces
Video resolution: 1920x1080 or 2688x1520
Memory: 256GB
Field of view: 114 degrees horizontal and 61 degrees vertical
Night vision range: 49 feet

Cisco Meraki

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