The Dahl Auto Plaza in Winona, Minnesota is part of an auto dynasty that first began in 1911, when Andrew H. Dahl began selling Ford Model T’s out of his general store in Westby, Wisconsin. The company is in its fifth generation of Dahl family ownership with over a century of growth behind it.

Today Dahl operates three dealership campuses throughout the Midwestern United States that are home to Subaru, Hyundai, Mazda, Toyota, Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, Ford, and Lincoln automobile franchises. During the construction of the Dahl Auto Plaza in Winona, the installation of a video surveillance system was a required part of the planning. AV Costar became the go-to manufacturer for all the dealership’s surveillance cameras.

Video surveillance system challenge

Winona’s Dahl is home to three different dealerships on a single campus — Chevy, Toyota, and the Dahl Used Car Express Service Centre. The company needed a comprehensive video surveillance system to monitor its parking lots and service bays for traffic, customer flow, vehicle flow, vandalism, and theft. With a desired 15-16 camera limit to cover such a large amount of space, cameras with high image quality and flexibility were essential to the surveillance system’s success.

No other camera manufacturer could compete with the price and performance of the AV Costar Omni series

AV Costar Try-and-Buy programme 

The implementation of AV Costar megapixel cameras at Dahl Winona began with the use of AV Costar’s Try-and-Buy programme at the recommendation of Russ Neitzke, President and Founder of systems integrator Digicom, Inc. Cameras selected for a Try-and-Buy trial can be returned by the systems integrator for a full refund of the purchase price if the customer is unsatisfied.

SurroundVideo Omni unique design

The only cameras considered for the Dahl video surveillance system were AV Costar SurroundVideo Omni models after they were tested. “No other camera manufacturer could compete with the price and performance of the AV Costar Omni series,” Mr. Neitzke said. “As a result, no other surveillance camera manufacturers were recommended by Digicom, Inc. or would be able to so effectively cover the 15 acres of new and used vehicle display, public access, and vehicle service areas at the new Dahl Auto Plaza.”

The SurroundVideo Omni series features a unique, patented 360o track design. Each camera includes four individual megapixel (MP) sensors mounted in multi-axis gimbals that can be independently placed and aimed in nearly any configuration, allowing coverage to be highly customised to specific project requirements.

With features like remote focus in the SurroundVideo Omni G2, interchangeable lenses and high-resolution capabilities (12 and 20MP) in both G1 and G2 series models, the versatility of this camera family is unmatched.

For large open spaces such as those found at the Dahl campus, the SurroundVideo Omni series provides high resolution, omni-directional video in a rugged, low profile enclosure suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. The cameras are IK-10 impact resistant and IP66 environmental rated against dust and water, making them ideal for Dahl’s requirements.

Reduced need for multiple cameras

Most critical for Dahl were the SurroundVideo Omni series benefits of low maintenance, high video resolution, and the ability to reduce the number of cameras required for full situational awareness throughout the campus. The SurroundVideo Omni 12MP models selected include Wide Dynamic Range (WDR) technology, which aids in producing high quality, clear images even in challenging light situations.

the implementation of Arecont Vision megapixel cameras at Dahl Winona began with the use of Arecont Vision's try-and-buy program
The SurroundVideo Omni reduces the need for multiple cameras to cover open spaces, saving the customer money

The SurroundVideo Omni reduces the need for multiple cameras to cover open spaces, saving the customer money on both camera cost and installation requirements. Without the need for the constantly moving parts of a legacy Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) camera, there are no parts, gears, belts, or motors to wear out and to require maintenance in the SurroundVideo Omni series. This reduces ongoing operational costs.

With Digicom Inc. designing the surveillance and installation plans, Dahl was in good hands. Dahl selected the SurroundVideo Omni series, reaping the significant benefit of reduced installation time. Each sensor gimbal in a SurroundVideo Omni is magnetically set in place around the 70+ placement-point omnidirectional track and then quickly locked down during installation.

This makes it easy for the installer to arrange an ideal coverage layout. Another significant selling point for Dahl was that each SurroundVideo Omni camera requires only a single IP category 5 PoE (Power over Ethernet) cable, which reduces both complexity and installation cost.

ExacqVision VMS

Dahl can monitor the surveillance system locally, corporate-wide, and on various smartphones and tablets. AV Costar Technology Partner Program member ExacqVision is utilised for the video management system (VMS). A single ExacqVision VMS licence is required for each SurroundVideo Omni camera, while providing four high-definition video views.

AV Costar cameras are certified with ExacqVision and the VMS is installed in the AV Costar MegaLab™ to enable ongoing collaboration between the two companies and to ensure the best possible integration and support for customers. 

Dahl can monitor the surveillance system locally, corporate-wide, and on various smartphones and tablets

Arecont success at Dahl

The AV Costar SurroundVideo Omni cameras at Dahl have been a great success, with high customer satisfaction. “Basically,” Mr. Neitzke stated, “The coverage that you get with the SurroundVideo Omni is really like buying four cameras in one.” Being able to effectively cover Dahl’s range of campus requirements with fewer cameras and lower purchase, installation, and operational costs meant that AV Costar has hit all the required marks for this project, according to Mr. Neitzke.

The system has performed incredibly well, with few issues from the end-user. On the rare occasion when an issue has popped up, the AV Costar team has been responsive to the customer’s needs, providing technical support, advanced replacements, or any other kind of assistance Dahl has needed for the surveillance system.

Future projects

AV Costar and Dahl are now planning a second, even larger project at Dahl’s campus in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin. Dahl plans on upgrading this campus with a new surveillance system for indoor and outdoor spaces with AV Costar cameras. Digicom, Inc. and the AV Costar Field Application Engineering groups are developing a campus-wide plan for this next project.

SurroundVideo Omni will be ready to be deployed yet again whenever Dahl needs it.

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