Cisco Location Tracking Setup

In a previous post, I detailed Cisco's location tracking approach. Now on to implementation!

First, here are the requirements for implementing a 2700/2710 location appliance or MSE:
  • Cisco WCS server with the "WCS Base + Location" (older) or "WCS Plus" (newer) license to configure the location server, controllers, define network maps, and synchronize everything together
  • Cisco 2700, 2170, or MSE appliance to perform the location calculation
  • Cisco wireless LAN controllers and access points (sorry, Autonomous is not supported)
  • Verify WCS, controller, and location appliance software compatibility from the location software release notes
Implementation Steps (assuming a working WCS server with controllers and APs already imported):
  1. Import campus, building, and floor area maps
  2. Use the Map Editor tool to define floor attenuation characteristics
  3. Assign access points to floor areas
  4. Initial setup of the location server or MSE
  5. Add location server to WCS
  6. Configure location server tracking parameters
  7. Install licenses if using MSE
  8. Synchronize network designs (maps), controllers, and notification events
Steps 1 through 3 are well-documented and fairly intuitive, so we'll skip by those for now.

Step 4 - Initial Setup of the Location Server or MSE

Connect to the 2700 Series Location Appliance or Mobility Services Engine (MSE) using a DB-9 serial console cable for initial configuration using the setup wizard. A standard Cisco rollover console cable and terminal DB-9 adapter can be used.

Run the setup wizard to configure the appliance for initial use. Most of the setup questions are self-explanatory, but I want to highlight a few notable parameters. The default login for shell access (these are linux appliances) is username "root" and password "password". The default login for WCS to access the location appliance is username "admin" and password "admin". Both of these accounts can be changed during the setup wizard. 

Also, during initial setup be sure to set the time correctly. It is highly recommended to use a common NTP time source for WCS, controllers, and the location appliance.

If you need to run the setup wizard again at a later time, it is located at /opt/locserver/setup/ or /opt/mse/setup/ You can run it again and modify only the parameters that need to be changed, including NTP servers.

To view, stop, or start the location service you can run the command "/etc/init.d/locserverd { status | stop | start | restart }" or "/etc/init.d/msed { status | stop | start | restart }".

Step 5 - Add Location Server to WCS

In WCS, navigate to the Location > Location Servers screen. In newer WCS versions this changed to the Services > Mobility Services screen.

From the drop-down menu select "Add Location Server" or "Add Mobility Services Engine" depending on which appliance you are using. Fill in the corresponding information, including the username and password to authenticate to the location appliance as configured during the setup wizard (default was admin, admin).

WCS communicates with the 2700 series appliances over port 8001 and the MSE over 443 (HTTPS) by default.

Step 6 - Configure Location Tracking Parameters

This step ensures that the location server is configured to track clients, tags, rogues, etc. In WCS 6.x versions, navigate to Services > Mobility Services, click on the appliance name, then select the Context Aware Service > Administration > Tracking Parameters menu.

Check the boxes next to the items for which location information needs to be tracked, including Wired Clients, Wireless Clients, Rogues, and RFID tags. You can also limit the amount of each type to track.

Step 7 - Install MSE Licenses

If using an MSE appliance, various services are licensed individually, including context aware service (location), wIPS intrusion prevention, and mobile routing. After purchasing a context-aware license from Cisco and registering the PAK file, Cisco will email you a license file. Install the license file through WCS in the Administration > License Center menu.

Select Files > MSE on the left menu, and click Add. Follow the prompts to add the license and assign it to a specific MSE appliance.

Step 8 - Synchronize Elements

Finally, you must synchronize network designs, controllers, and notification events in order for location tracking to be performed. At a minimum, you will want to synchronize network designs and controllers. Notifications can also be synchronized if alerting on specific location events are to be performed.

Navigate to Services > Synchronize Services, and use the "Assign" hyperlink to assign elements to the location server. Once assigned, the sync status should change to green bi-directional arrows to indicate success. If any element changes, for instance if a map is subsequently edited in WCS, the sycn status will be in error. A periodic scheduled task can be enabled to re-synchronize out-of-sync elements on a recurring basis, or the administrator can manually re-sync elements as well.

Wait for a few minutes and location tracking information should populate into WCS. To view location information, navigate to Monitor > Maps, select a synchronized map. Check the client, 802.11 tags, or rogue elements on the left hand side to view them on the map.

Client locations are shown in this image as blue squares on the map. Hover over a client to view relevant inventory and connection status information. Click on the client to open a more detailed page which includes the ability to view historical location information for that specific client (select Location History from the drop-down box on the client detail page).

In the next post on this topic, I'll provide some tips for improving location accuracy and also provide a reference on what protocols are used for communication between WCS, controllers, and location appliances.