Is There A Future for Scanning?

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OneBadUukha

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I'm new to scanning. It's great. I like the challenge of programming my own systems and following events as they unfold using custom searches, etc.

However, I'd like to ask if anyone can mention any changes to laws, government, technological advances, or other factors that will impact (make more difficult) our ability to scan in the future.

For example, lots of organizations are moving to APCO-25 Phase II radio systems, which a lot of scanners don't support.

Then there's the requirement of the US government, I believe, to auction off a certain range of frequencies by 2021.

These are the things I'm looking for. Will scanning one day be inaccessible or nearly so to the public?
 

jonwienke

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Plenty of scanners support P25 and other digital formats. They are expensive, but prices are coming down, just like any other technology. Trunked systems are much faster to scan than discrete frequencies--you can monitor a statewide system with 1000+ talkgroups simply by listening to 1 control channel and maybe a dozen voice channels, as opposed to several hundred individual frequencies.

Encryption is an issue, but for other than SWAT/tactical use, departments are discovering that it is a big hindrance to interoperability--you can't interoperate with other agencies and departments when everyone's comms are encrypted. I'm not worried about it wiping out scanning long-term.
 

milf

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With OTAR in use much more, now Interop on Encrypted TGs is happening on more systems. Now Interop between agencies that are NOT sharing an system does pose issues, and for that encryption is quickly going away for that. Its all up to individual agencies to decide if they want to be paranoid and hide behind E, or be more open to the public. It is NOT the end of the scanning world, far from it. The only real challenge I foresee is the growing FirstNET LTE network. Unless it is patched into current nets that ends any monitoring. But it will be a VERY LONG TIME before this truly becomes an issue.
 
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DaveNF2G

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FirstNet will reduce the amount of voice traffic in some instances, but it will not replace it.
 

pinballwiz86

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Depends where you live. Some places .. scanning will be dead very soon. Myself .. I am not going to buy another scanner for a dying hobby, much of which has been caused by streaming.
Scanner hobby is not dying. But, where the scanner hobby has taken a HUGE hit is over in Europe with their Tetra system. I think the worst country for someone that enjoys listening to police scanners is probably England. Draconian laws! Sucks to live there.
 
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The future of scanning is dictated by the hobbyists. Unfortunately, There are scanner hobbyists that are destroying what we enjoy. They are destroying it by becoming feeders to numerous sites that broadcast the channels via apps. They are destroying because departments do not approve or like their channels to be aired to any person with a phone. This includes those that are up to no good aka thugs, criminals deplorables etc. As a result, they are Encrypting even the dispatch channels.

So where is the future of scanning? Simple... You'll only be able to monitor the air and ham bands. Even the mall cops aka security, will be encrypted thanks to DMR.
 
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DaveNF2G

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Interesting. They open with a claim that encryption can "improve interoperability," then go on to explain how difficult encrypted interoperability is, and offer solutions that mitigate the effectiveness of an encryption system.
 

jondainty

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If it's not broken, leave it alone

Most of the concerns about encryption start with people who do not have a voice in the decisions to deploy it. It may be those of us who like to listen to police agencies in other countries (via my cell phone) or who volunteer for cities and counties (city OEM in my case). A tiny amount of realistic thinking will point to the difficulties inherent in pushing new and unnecessarily complex technology into the hands of working police officers and firefighters.

The DHS document linked above by RRR slides right past the reality that most police agencies (not DHS, of course!) struggle with budgets that are always tight. They want more officers on the street, but here comes their city officials with a neat new toy (encryption for everything), and it will only cost them 10 or 12 officers that might have hit the street in two years. This is not the way to the police chief's heart, in my experience.

If Peoria County should (God forbid) decide to encrypt our new P25 system (Phase I), who would okay the extra millions of dollars it would cost? Actually, whoever has to deal with the pushy vendors who have to sell us that new wrinkle or lose money out of their own budget.

Smaller jurisdictions around the county would then have to scramble for some of the scraps so that encrypted toys don't leave them out in the cold. Interoperability will function better without adding another couple of layers of complexity to the existing systems. They work well; let's not screw up something that works!
 

gmclam

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Things keep changing ....

Back in the beginning (for me), there was a single local frequency that had "everything". Then police and fire got separate freqs and for some people it was "the end". Along comes scanners.

I remember when local dispatch moved to CAD. It was a mixed blessing. No more routine calls busying up the airwaves, but still lots of stuff to hear.

Fast forward to when trunking came out. At first no scanners could handle it and people thought it was the end of scanning. As time moves on we've got scanners that can handle more and more types of trunked systems, but the types of trunked systems keeps growing.

Next is digital (such as P25). But now there's scanners to handle that although not all being broadcast.

The biggest thing now is encryption. But it does depend on where you are and what you want to monitor. There will always be something to monitor. And for the hobbyists, there will always be another nut to crack.
 

radio3353

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The DHS document linked above by RRR slides right past the reality that most police agencies (not DHS, of course!) struggle with budgets that are always tight. They want more officers on the street, but here comes their city officials with a neat new toy (encryption for everything), and it will only cost them 10 or 12 officers that might have hit the street in two years. This is not the way to the police chief's heart, in my experience.
Except, where I live it is the police chiefs that are pushing for encryption!! That voids your statement.
 

OneBadUukha

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Oh, double void!

Here's a thought. If police and fire departments begin encrypting their communications, that would significantly reduce the ability of local news channels, who monitor scanner traffic 24/7, to cover spot news: crimes, chases, fires, car accidents, natural disasters, etc. Ambulance chasing is big business.
 

RRR

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The biggest thing now is encryption. But it does depend on where you are and what you want to monitor. There will always be something to monitor. And for the hobbyists, there will always be another nut to crack.
Triple void. Not only does encryption physically render monitoring impossible, but that is it's intent, unlike going to another freq or trunking, which is to increase their capacity. Furthermore, it is illegal to break encryption without permission, as opposed to developing a scanner to monitor trunking. No "nut to crack" with that one without risking prosecution, seizure of your equipment, and/or a fine to pay.

And keep in mind, a great number radios and systems these days come with encryption capability as a standard, so the argument of needing additional money to have encryption is beginning to be a moot point.

I say quit giving them reasons to put encryption in place to begin with. Scanning and monitoring enthusiast were a rather conservative group of folks, and sure were a lot more responsible about 15 years ago with this stuff than they are now. For instance, an new talkaround freq the local PD thinks nobody can hear comes online, and someone always about pisses all over themselves to post it for all (including their radio tech) to see, and wonders why they go to an encrypted radio system shortly thereafter.....
 
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Triple void. Not only does encryption physically render monitoring impossible, but that is it's intent, unlike going to another freq or trunking, which is to increase their capacity. Furthermore, it is illegal to break encryption without permission, as opposed to developing a scanner to monitor trunking. No "nut to crack" with that one without risking prosecution, seizure of your equipment, and/or a fine to pay.

And keep in mind, a great number radios and systems these days come with encryption capability as a standard, so the argument of needing additional money to have encryption is beginning to be a moot point.

I say quit giving them reasons to put encryption in place to begin with. Scanning and monitoring enthusiast were a rather conservative group of folks, and sure were a lot more responsible about 15 years ago with this stuff than they are now. For instance, an new talkaround freq the local PD thinks nobody can hear comes online, and someone always about pisses all over themselves to post it for all (including their radio tech) to see, and wonders why they go to an encrypted radio system shortly thereafter.....
Amen brother!
 
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