Subscriber Discussion

Surveillance For Car Dealerships

Hi, I have a client with a car dealership who as a problem with thieves (nights / weekends) stealing parts / vandalizing the cars in the parking lot.

I was thinking about cameras with a video analysing software,connected to his alarm system. My biggest concern are too many false alarms. Any experience /ideas?

Video analytics actually have a positive track record for car dealerships. VideoIQ, in particular, is frequently mentioned for this market.

Make sure to use 'real' analytics and stay away from on-board camera motion detection. Also, central monitoring integration is frequently done to allow rapid response to alerts.

See out tutorial on remote monitoring that talks about this type of solution.

Have a look at this video - I believe the scenario is very close to your application:

Thank you for your help Videoiq is what i was thinking (i just waiting for the R to be available).

I want to use the relay output from the icvr as a simple alarm zone one:

  • video monitoring = low false alarms but high monthly costs
  • alarm monitoring = high false alarms (?) but low monthly cost
  • alarm patrol here =$40 so:alarm monitoring +4 false = video monitoring /month

I have no experience with videoiq, after optimizing the system is 1 false for the 3 cameras / week is achievable ?


We just completed our first car dealiership with Emza WiseEye units. These are combined IP network cameras (PoE) with integrated analytics. They feed a local controller that then integrated with BOLD central station software at a regaional CS that is very aggresively offering remote guard services. The system has very few falses and is well liked by the customer. We also recently refurbished the overall video surveillance system with Sony and Exacq products. The CS can go up on the exacq system remotely for additional views. Happy customer, good RMR.

Brad Silvernail

Carolina Video Security, Inc

1 false alarm for 3 cameras in a week? Sounds low? It obviously depends on your environment. Let's see what others have to report.

When the analytic cameras cause a short video file to be sent to the central station for assessment the definition of "false alarm" begins to change, I think. The human intervention and assessment is the value-add that is paid for by the customer. Do the devices need to be "adjusted" correctly to only send content when a person or vehicle enter the property, yes. When the central station devices that the person they are viewing is not window shopping at 2am, but about to take an illegal action, like stealing wheels, then the reported action to the authorities has a very very low false rate.

If we measure this at the point where the authorities are dispatched, the overall system rarely has a false alarm in terms of that dispatch. If the sensors we deploy are not placed within the correct operating envelop and then not adjusted correctly, a number of inaccurate detections will occur and burn up CS resources. And, the CS will push back for the integrator to correct.

Brad, are most CSes going to 'push back for the integrator to correct'? It appears that most will simply charge the integrator for each additional alarm review. It's more on the customer / integrator to reduce false alarms to minimize cost charged by the central station.

John, Fortunately, I'm learning this / doing this in a collaborative with the CS I've been referencing - Universal Monitoring. They have a structure that works on a quantity / range of events per month. The sky doesn't fall if the numbers spike briefly. That said, they provide a skilled and valuable resource that needs to be compensated for activity level.

We have negotiated and passed on an increase to the customer since we started in early winter, but it was primarily due to expanded hours of coverage. It also appears to be very seasonal / weather related for car dealers in particular.

meant to say collaborative environment

Most of the CS don't want to have video monitoring - because the responsibility + it's time consuming .

that reason to add it as "just another zone " in the alarm panel and "pay" $40 for patrol on alerts

I agree about the CS's. My "regular" CS for intrusion alarms, can't or won't offer this level of service.

[Editor's Note: Commenter is executive at VideoIQ.]

Car dealerships are one of our key markets. I've lost count of how many we have, but it's hundreds, if not thousands at this point.

There are actually a lot of large and small centra stations that do video event monitoring these days, we have a list of some of our key parters here.

"Cost" can be an issue for the central station, but only indirectly. Many will tell you that they can make far more on video event monitoring (and really, incident prevention through the monitoring) than on traditional alarm monitoring, but they also have to understand that event handle times can be several minutes, not a dozen seconds.

A key component that we have seen is an ability for the remote central station to also respond in real-time, via an audio talk-down. Simple video-verified events, or video-motion based events are not as effective, though they WILL help reduce false alarm fees if you dispatch police to the scene. Many of our central stations reports success rates around 90% in terms of using the live audio talk-down to actually deter/prevent theft/vandalism, not just verify it.

False alarms of course can be an issue. It's hard (I'd actually say near impossible) to give "always applicable" guidelines, but generally speaking, false alarms should be measured in the single digits, or low 10's of events per site per week. This is going to vary based on the overall site/scene, quality of installation (lighting, etc.) and other basic factors.

Most of the central stations monitoring our equipment are also highly skilled in tweaking rule configs to help the customer get the desired outcome... For example they might adjust a Region of Interest or change a rule sensitivity level or something like that to help adapt the system to performance.

Pricing models vary. Some charge a flat rate (plus overages) based on site profile, some charge per event, some "bucket" events into pricing tiers (1-50 events/mo. is $200, 50-150 is $300, etc.) some charge fractional hours of operator time used to handle an event. Handling policies and complexities of the response protocol are often different among different monitoring stations, some optimize for cost, some optimize for a fully-managed solution.

check video monitoring service of Tyco Integrated Security...Their standard video monitoring service costs under $300/year and varies on requirement.


We use VideoIQ all the time in the construction industry for preventing copper theft. Indeed, police arrested a thief onsite just this past weekend.

I would strongly discourage you from the traditional-alarm zone-input plan. Is the car dealership fenced in and gates closed after hours? If not, you will have occasional window shoppers creating alarm events. Even if it is gated, it is HIGHLY unlikely that you will be lower than 4 events per month with 3 cameras. Dealerships tend to have great lighting (a benefit I don't enjoy on construction sites), so you may experience fewer alarms than I. But we tend to see a false alarm every 2 to 3 nights per camera (and it is usually much higher the first few weeks). As I said - you should do much better with the available lighting, but I doubt things will improve by a factor of 10.

Brians comments on prevention via voice-downs are key as well. Our customers have seen drastic reductions in both the number, and dollar value of theft losses since we began deploying "proactive" video surveillance solutions for them. You would be giving up this benefit as well.

Thank you ,

That part of the dealership is fenced. For the front i might schedule sound only.

For the "window shoppers" that stay to long on the parking during dealership is closed.

James , can you help me with more details on your set up, construction site is on my next project .

In my area, places like dealerships and construction sites use dogs and want to move to a better technology, the only local I see is laser beams / IR with camera surveillance on event- the installation is very expensive and not reliable.

I'm looking for a better solution and its look like VideoIQ + one of their partners will do it.



Dogs might increase your false alarm rates using VideoIQ. I believe the analytics can be configured to ignore them, but I have got to imagine it isn't perfect (I have no experience with that - maybe @BrianKaras can interject).

For construction, your setup will be similar to the dealership, though you will likely need to supplement with some infrared illuminators. I am a fan of Bosch UFLED illuminators. They are expensive.

VideoIQ will replace the dogs.

In general, we'll do a really good job ignoring the dogs, but if you've got a few mutts running around the yard all night, you ARE going to be tempting the False Alarm Gods.

I have recently done some consulting work for BEI Security who specialises in interactive video monitoring for car dealerships. They can supply VideoIQ and other analytics to meet the end user needs. Their monitoring fees are as low as $3 per hour. You can email me at or contact them directly for more info.

Rich, $3 per hour per camera? $3 per hour means $2160 per month? (i.e., $3 per hour x 24 hours per day x 30 days per month). Can you clarify/expand?

John, It's $3 per hour, per site, for up to 16 cameras. The hourly price doubles for each additional set of 16 cameras. Sites can specify which hours they wish to monitor and typically do not expect 24/7 monitoring. Car dealerships, specifically, will designate a time shortly after closing through when they open the next morning. Two-way audio is also included in that pricing along with daily incident reports. The central station is monitored by off-duty police officers who will communicate with the suspect and/or contact the local police as well as the designated dealership contact.

I contacted securitypartners and their offer sounds good ,

anyone have any experience with securitypartners that he can share ?


Rich, thanks for elaborating. Let's say 10 hours a day (night time), 30 days a month, that's $300 x 3 = $900 per month or ~$10,000 per year. Do they look in periodically on the cameras? Or do they depend on alerts from the system (motion, intrusion, analytics)?

Oded, I do not know of Security Partners. Can you overview their offer?

Security Partners is one of our top central station partners. I think they will take good care of you.

We currently charge 499$ per month for upto 8 cameras with analytics by Aimetis. What do you recommend for a two-way audio talk down system. We trigger sirens/strobe on verified video events.

Security Partners offer charge by "bucket" of events, so it's depend how reliable your setup. I don't know if i can share the offer but it was cheaper and more flexible than what i got till now.

Rich; I'm also wondering- "Do they look in periodically on the cameras? Or do they depend on alerts from the system "

Having used Security Partners in the past, I can answer that. It depends on what you're paying them to do. Periodic look-in is separate from alarm response, and an additional cost. I think they call it remote guard tour or something like that. The cost scales depending on how many cameras they're looking at, and how often you want them to do it, but I don't remember a ballpark price on any of it, so I can't help there.