SDS100 - Useful Life span before Encryption

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djones0154

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New to the hobby, again (1st scanner was a 10-crystal, 2nd was and still have is a BC200-XLT).

I am looking to purchase the SDS100 and plan to listen to police and fire in Baltimore County, Maryland. I understand this area is Phase 1 and will going to Phase II most everywhere soon. What I am worried about is after purchasing the scanner, in two years they go to encrypted signal and the scanner is useless for my main purpose.

What is the outlook for the above scenario in the Baltimore County MD area for Encryption? How many years could I expect to be able to monitor Fire/Police?

Thank you,
Don
 

maus92

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New to the hobby, again (1st scanner was a 10-crystal, 2nd was and still have is a BC200-XLT).

I am looking to purchase the SDS100 and plan to listen to police and fire in Baltimore County, Maryland. I understand this area is Phase 1 and will going to Phase II most everywhere soon. What I am worried about is after purchasing the scanner, in two years they go to encrypted signal and the scanner is useless for my main purpose.

What is the outlook for the above scenario in the Baltimore County MD area for Encryption? How many years could I expect to be able to monitor Fire/Police?

Thank you,
Don
The Baltimore County P25P1 system is now in early mid-life. I would not expect an upgrade to a Phase 2 anytime soon as there is no real need to do so. The SDS100 is designed to properly and reliably receive LSM simulcast systems, whether Phase 1 or Phase 2. Most of the larger county systems on the police side only use encryption for certain sensitive operations, while routine operations remain in the clear. If there is a plan to encrypt routine ops as well, I have not heard about it. That said, there is *rumor* that Montgomery County and possibly Anne Arundel counties will use full encryption for police operations in their new systems coming online next year. Enabling and managing encryption is much easier now than in the past due to digital radio infrastructure technology, however it is more expensive to implement wrt equipment and licensing costs. Bottom line is nobody can give you a definitive answer. Buy the SDS100.
 
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jkahn

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Given the current situation and the fact that Uniden's scanners have been manufactured in China and nobody seems to have any new SDS100 in stock, By the time you could buy a new one, Baltimore's PD may already have gone to Phase 2 and been encrypted. Yeah I waited too long, too.
 

maus92

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Given the current situation and the fact that Uniden's scanners have been manufactured in China and nobody seems to have any new SDS100 in stock, By the time you could buy a new one, Baltimore's PD may already have gone to Phase 2 and been encrypted. Yeah I waited too long, too.
The radios are manufactured in Vietnam. And the SDS200 are in stock if the OP wanted a mobile - better radio IMO anyway.
 

maus92

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I should also add that Howard County just finished upgrading their SmartZone analog system to ASTRO P25 Phase 1 a month or two ago. Police routine ops remain in the clear.

Baltimore County completed their $76M Phase 1 upgrade in 2012; these systems typically last ~18-20 years before counties scrape up funding to do wholesale replacements.
 
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firebal

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Get the scanner, if not use RTL-SDRs. BCoFD will likely stay unencrypted for quite sometime and there is always the lowband dispatch. As far as the Police? Anyone's guess but as other people mentioned they already have had the option to do so and haven't.
 

maus92

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Doing some more research, Baltimore County funded a radio project to combine the North and South sites into a single cell. From their 2020 budget:

"Public safety is one of the core services that any good local government must deliver for its residents and business community. In fiscal year 2020, the County has committed approximately $25 million for the Replace Communication System project. Included in this project is the implementation of the Single Cell (P25) Upgrade to the public safety radio communications system, and the implementation of a new 911 Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system.

The Single Cell (P25) Upgrade project will convert the radio system’s two existing independent simulcast cells into a single simulcast cell to provide the public safety radio communications system with enhanced countywide coverage and expanded capacity. This will improve user safety, streamline daily operations and system reliability, resulting in a more sustainable and flexible radio system.

The 911 CAD System project will replace the existing legacy 911 CAD system in the Emergency Communications Center. This new system will reliably assist in the efficient and effective processing of 911 calls to ensure the continued safety of anyone living, working or traveling in Baltimore County. The replacement system will allow the County to continue to meet the ever changing federal and state mandates such as “Next Generation 911” (NG911) and other emerging technologies in a timelier manner. "

They also mention replacing the RMS systems.
 
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firebal

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Doing some more research, Baltimore County funded a radio project to combine the North and South sites into a single cell. From their 2020 budget:

"Public safety is one of the core services that any good local government must deliver for its residents and business community. In fiscal year 2020, the County has committed approximately $25 million for the Replace Communication System project. Included in this project is the implementation of the Single Cell (P25) Upgrade to the public safety radio communications system, and the implementation of a new 911 Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system.

The Single Cell (P25) Upgrade project will convert the radio system’s two existing independent simulcast cells into a single simulcast cell to provide the public safety radio communications system with enhanced countywide coverage and expanded capacity. This will improve user safety, streamline daily operations and system reliability, resulting in a more sustainable and flexible radio system.

The 911 CAD System project will replace the existing legacy 911 CAD system in the Emergency Communications Center. This new system will reliably assist in the efficient and effective processing of 911 calls to ensure the continued safety of anyone living, working or traveling in Baltimore County. The replacement system will allow the County to continue to meet the ever changing federal and state mandates such as “Next Generation 911” (NG911) and other emerging technologies in a timelier manner. "

They also mention replacing the CAD and RMS systems.
Interesting! Not sure why the switch to a single cell. Will that really make any big differences?
Remember this was all pre-COVID and who knows how the budget will change now.
 

Hit_Factor

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New to the hobby, again (1st scanner was a 10-crystal, 2nd was and still have is a BC200-XLT).

I am looking to purchase the SDS100 and plan to listen to police and fire in Baltimore County, Maryland. I understand this area is Phase 1 and will going to Phase II most everywhere soon. What I am worried about is after purchasing the scanner, in two years they go to encrypted signal and the scanner is useless for my main purpose.

What is the outlook for the above scenario in the Baltimore County MD area for Encryption? How many years could I expect to be able to monitor Fire/Police?

Thank you,
Don
Call them and ask what their plans are. It may take a few transfers to get to the guy who really knows.
 

maus92

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Interesting! Not sure why the switch to a single cell. Will that really make any big differences?
Remember this was all pre-COVID and who knows how the budget will change now.
Who knows, but capital projects like this are generally funded by debt instruments like bonds, and sometimes grant monies. In other words, it's shielded to some extent by fluctuation in tax proceeds.

Looking deeper into the budget, it looks like they are only funding the CAD replacement in the FY2020 capital budget, for about $12M - paid entirely by a bond issuance. They have spent ~$90M on the radio communications project since 2009 when the original contract was signed with Motorola.
 
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djones0154

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Thanks everyone for your quick and detailed responses. Based on the above, I will be moving forward with the SDS100 purchase. I am looking forward to getting back into the hobby.
 

maus92

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And digging even further, it looks like they split the costs over two fiscal years, 2019 and 2020, funding ~$12.275M each year. It doesn't mean they actually spent the money yet or completed work, it just encumbers the funding. Total encumbered costs for the overall project is $102.9M since the P25 project began.
 

JimD56

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Another great way to find out is; to go into the individual government entities' notification process for Request for Proposals RFP's and Request for Bids RFBs. You don't have to be anyone special or even a company to get on an email list when the government entities are going to bid something out. Here in South Florida, it is all online, transparent, and really easy but YMMV. I stay notified on a number of different items with of course all COMMS including infrastructure.
Jim
 

maus92

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Final note on this. Baltimore County's RFP / Solicitations procedures are a bit arcane, so no note of an award or solicitation other than an ongoing mx contract with Motorola. A search of FCC records shows no new applications or modifications of existing licenses that indicate an emission type that would support Phase 2 ops, so my guess is Phase 2 is not imminent.
 

AdamHLG

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Thanks everyone for your quick and detailed responses. Based on the above, I will be moving forward with the SDS100 purchase. I am looking forward to getting back into the hobby.
If the only thing you are going to monitor is Baltimore County FD and PD, you may want to look at a Unification G4 or G5 before making your final decision. Both are great choices for different reasons.
 

boatbod

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County and Town LEO agencies appear to be rushing headlong towards adopting full encryption, at least here on the Eastern Shore. Maryland State Police are not encrypted yet, but it's sadly a trend that looks set to continue. Really the only limiting factor is the cost of the encryption licenses demanded by the radio manufacturers...
 

djones0154

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If the only thing you are going to monitor is Baltimore County FD and PD, you may want to look at a Unification G4 or G5 before making your final decision. Both are great choices for different reasons.
This is starting point but most likely my primary monitoring. We have Blue Angel air shows often, Coast Guard and I am sure many other interest I will find along the way.
 

maus92

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This is starting point but most likely my primary monitoring. We have Blue Angel air shows often, Coast Guard and I am sure many other interest I will find along the way.
Likely a scanner would be the better choice as it is more flexible. Note that if you got a G5 with VHF, you could cover most un-encrypted Coast Guard, but not Blue Angels.
 
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