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Firegrounds getting encrypted but not Police Tacs?

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RedPenguin

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I noticed in much of the RR database and forums, that many places have already or are in the process of encrypted there Fireground/Tac channels.

Why are fire channels being encrypted but many police tac are not? I mean police have dangerous and possibly in need of encryption stuff on their Tacs.

Also, are many Firegrounds different than my county? My county just uses unencrypted Tac channels, and all you hear is them going into the house/car or whatever, but mostly guys asking for equipment. Why would that need to be encrypted?
 

Lakotawolf

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I agree thats crazy that FD`s are using encrypted channels. I know my county wont do that. However my county is going trough changes now that most units are using a MPC. Its making for less radio traffic.
 
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#3
Idiots. Encrypting fire channels is only going to cause more people to drive to fire scenes to see what's going on, which is exactly what the department should be trying to prevent.
 

kb2vxa

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As if all these "more people" have scanners and can afford to waste gasoline just to gawk at a fireman carrying a CO2 bottle back to the truck after extinguishing a grease fire on some fool's stove?

It's more a matter of cities wasting post 9-11 federal grants (read your tax dollars) on useless toys. Follow the money trail and you'll find a hoard of pigs at the trough.
 
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kb2vxa said:
It's more a matter of cities wasting post 9-11 federal grants (read your tax dollars) on useless toys. Follow the money trail and you'll find a hoard of pigs at the trough.
LOL! No doubt about that.

I didn't say that a LOT more people were going to be doing it. But there are plenty of whackers out there who -- if they can't hear on the scanner that it's just a grease fire -- are more likely to go look-see for themselves
 

kb2vxa

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#6
I know, but thanks for giving me an opportunity to vent.

Speaking of which I would like to have read about the outcome of a few major events recently but neither the TV stations' nor regional newspapers' web sites said a word about them. The paper picked up on a car crash, but that was it. What happened to scanners in the newsroom and those newsies in their little white porcupines I used to see around here?

Over the weekend the New York ENG crews were all over us broadcasting the yachties moaning and groaning over the high cost of marine gasoline as if I give a crap. If you're rich enough to own the boat you have money to fuel it so STFU! Not a word was said about marine Diesel or why the cost of fish has gone through the roof and the catch is dwindling; I saw the commercial fishing fleet tied up at the docks in the background totally ignored.

Now what was I saying about pigs at the trough? Thanks for another vent.
 
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#7
As far as I can tell, the complaints from FD's about digital radio are just that, plain digital.

Try to remember that the typical media type hasn't a clue of the difference between P25 and encrypted P25, that the local Fire chief probably has even less than he does, and that said Chief has been listening to the flow of bushwah of radio salesmen, who routinely call 'digital' unmonitorable to sell systems, even though they're flat out lying.

So I suspect a lot of 'digital' fireground stuff may be going into service, but not encrypted.

Why are a lot of agencies switching to P25? You bet, the feds encouraging it with cash, YOUR cash. The prime goal, interoperability, that is, everyone on the same type of system. Once you go digital, though, adding encryption gets easier, and law enforcement is likely to do it, certainly for those 'special' channels.

We're at the EASY part now, folks. Next, APCO25 Stage 2, where it looks like we'll be seeing channels become 'two voice channels per radio channel, using TETRA' added in. Think scanner design is tough NOW?

Even longer run? You know everything except MAYBE aircraft is going to end up digital, narrowband (that alone means if you really want to listen without severe interference, your scanner will have to be a far, far better designed, and more expensive, item to seperate those 6.25 KHz channels!), and over time, standards will evolve further. Listen while you can.
 

Stick0413

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#8
SkipSanders said:
As far as I can tell, the complaints from FD's about digital radio are just that, plain digital.

Try to remember that the typical media type hasn't a clue of the difference between P25 and encrypted P25, that the local Fire chief probably has even less than he does, and that said Chief has been listening to the flow of bushwah of radio salesmen, who routinely call 'digital' unmonitorable to sell systems, even though they're flat out lying.
Yeah I was talking to an LEO that I know not to long ago and was talking about listening to them. He seemed very suprised that I was able to. Said their 800 digital wasn't susposed to be able to be monitored. I just laughed a little and showed him. He did agree with me that dispatch should be in the clear and I understand his point to have encrypted tac channels.
 

chrismol1

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#9
As long as they make radios to transmit the encrypted whatever else, there will be scanners/receivers that will recieve it too that the public will get
 
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ocguard

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The actual reason that the FCC is encouraging (and in many cases, mandating) transition to digital is because a digitally vocoded transmission takes up less bandwidth than the same analog transmission. This will allow for smaller channel spacing, thus freeing up additional airwaves for more capacity. The reason P25 is preferred over other methods of digital encoding for public service radio is to develop a common air interface (CAI) for interoperability.

Many other broadcast media (such as broadcast TV) are also transitioning to digital - for the same reason. They do not use P25.

As far as fireground radio being encrypted - I only know of one major system where fireground radio traffic is encrypted - and this is Philadelphia. Does anyone know of any others?

Many other fire departments now use digitally encoded fireground radio, but this is not the same as encryption. Most systems employ APCO-25 (P25) method of digital encoding, which is monitor-able by any P25-capable scanner. However, a few use ProVoice digital, which is not monitor-able by any current consumer scanner.
 

ocguard

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#11
chrismoll said:
As long as they make radios to transmit the encrypted whatever else, there will be scanners/receivers that will recieve it too
No scanner can monitor an encrypted signal. Further, it is unlawful to monitor encrypted signal - in many cases, it's a federal crime.
 

gmclam

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#13
fireground radios

I wonder how many fire fighters will lose their lives because of "radio issues" until they get this correct. It makes NO sense to me at all that fireground communications have to travel many miles to a repeater on one frequency and then travel back to those being communicated with (who are at the same general location) on another frequency. If someone really wants to do this correctly and use less bandwidth, all fireground radios should be analog narrowband simplex. When a firefighter calls for help it seems to me that more people are likely to hear and understand him/her if their radio signal only has to travel a few dozen yards. And when marginal, there's a good chance someone will make it out if in analog. Digital, while able to do some amazing things with background noise/etc, gets to a point where it is useless. And encryption only adds fuel to the fire (sorry for the pun).
 

james32746

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#14
"As far as fireground radio being encrypted - I only know of one major system where fireground radio traffic is encrypted - and this is Philadelphia. Does anyone know of any others?"

Two in Florida encrypt everything (Dispatch and TAC channels)

Reedy Creek Improvement District, FL - the fire department for Walt Disney World called Reedy Creek Emergency Services, mostly influenced by the local media for covering every single death in their theme parks, because of this I am no longer bringing a scanner inside Disney World, as it is pointless except for FRS and GMRS transmissions from theme park guests. They made the switch from a Motorola ASTRO system to a Motorola ASTRO25 P25 system is when they switched to total crypto.

Temple Terrace, FL
 

ocguard

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Many fire communications systems DO have simplex channels available. But users (firefighters, command officers, dispatchers) are not properly educated in their uses, limitations, and benefits.

And there is a flip-side to every coin. Look back to 9/11. FDNY used the command/tactical concept for their communications (and still does). The IC used a radio set to a repeater channel for communications to the fire alarm office, and another radio set to the tactical channel for on-scene simplex. The on-scene simplex simply just didn't preform the way they needed it to, because of the expansive area they needed to operate in. So in this case, they WERE using simplex analog fireground radio, and it didn't preform for them.

So, both options need to be available to fire departments; both repeated (whether it be conventional repeater or a trunked system) and simplex analog frequencies. Then the users (ALL OF THEM) need to be educated on the differences and when to use which.
 
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#16
just seems like a colossal waste of money if you ask me..p-25(imho)is way over rated and as police go i might understand that a little more if you are dealing with sensivive traffic...as far asfire goes i would think that eventually it maeks mutual aid a nightmare!!...anywhoo i think the money might be better spent elsewhere


JB
 

RKG

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#17
Whatever the pros and cons of digital voice, once you go to digital there is no additional baggage imposed by encryption, such as software ADP encryption. In the old days of analog FM, going encrypted (such as, for instance, DVP or DES) required that you first digitize and then hash the digits. All sorts of issues concerning range, talk-back and reliability ensued. However, if you can get an Astro P25 system working "in the clear," then adding ADP imposes no additional hurdles or penalties.
 

ocguard

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jb872033 said:
just seems like a colossal waste of money if you ask me..p-25(imho)is way over rated and as police go i might understand that a little more if you are dealing with sensivive traffic...as far asfire goes i would think that eventually it maeks mutual aid a nightmare!!...anywhoo i think the money might be better spent elsewhere
JB
Well I guess the digital transition for TV is a waste too. Even though it's freeing up gobs of usable spectrum for additional public safety. The airwaves are congested beyond belief. Analog signals take up 300% greater spectrum than the same signal digitally encoded. This frees up a huge amount of spectrum for additional capacity, not only for public safety, but for other wireless media, such as wireless broadband internet, cellular phone, etc.

It may seem like a waste of money now, but we'll see what your opinion is in a few years when the basic wireless communications we rely on more and more are slow as sludge and unreliable because there is not enough radio spectrum capacity to make them work.

I don't know how P25 benefit's police 'sensitive traffic' as there are nearly a dozen consumer receivers on the market today that decode P25 flawlessly. I think there is a lack of understanding of the difference between digital ENCODING and ENCRYPTION.

ENCODING (which is what P25 is) is simply the conversion of voice into digital packets before they are sent over the air. There is no secretive-ness to it. Sure, initially, when P25 became popular, and there were no digital scanners on the market, it made monitoring these systems quite a chore. But it was NEVER meant to secure radio traffic. It's simply an alternative way to send voice over the radio waves.

ENCRYPTION is a process of turning voice into digital packets, then "mixing them up" before sending them over the air. All radios must have the "key" to put the packets back into the right order, so they can be converted BACK into audio. There are hundreds of millions of combinations that can make up the "key" and most modern encryption systems can re-key over the air at any time, making it impossible to "break" the key and intercept the audio.
 
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