The Availability of Online Scanner Apps & How NCST Works

What You Probably Don't Know About the Online Apps

We’ve all downloaded them, they come in tons of different names – the most common however is Broadcastify. In fact, a majority of the apps with different names use the “feeds” from broadcastify.com.

While they are free to listen to, often with ads at the start of the broadcast and injected at regular time intervals, they are not free to the broadcasters. Here are a few things most people don’t know about how these sites work.

  • The feeds you are listening to are submitted for free to broadcastify by volunteers. The feed you are listening to is coming from a physical radio located somewhere within the area. If you’re listening to a broadcast feed for Newnan, there is a radio sitting somewhere within the antenna range of that area.
  • It’s expensive and labor-intensive for the volunteer. With the radio’s themselves costing upwards of $500, volunteers have to agree when they submit a feed to a certain amount of uptime for the feed. This usually means you have to purchase a battery back-up so that if the power goes out, the feed continues. Another major cost factor is that you have to have sufficiently powerful enough internet to be able to broadcast your audio from the radio, as well as being able to use your internet for normal activities like watching Netflix or just browsing on the internet.
  • You can only broadcast certain information. When you sign up and agree to provide a stream, you have to agree not to broadcast certain information or frequencies. In particular information from EMS to the Hospitals or information that broadcastify deems legally dubious from their standpoint. Depending on your radio, this can be very difficult to comply with.

These are just some of the sticking points for people that volunteer to provide broadcast. Again, those that provide feeds are not paid for them, they get no part of broadcastify’s ad revenue. While there are incentives, like a $25 gift card if your feed hits 100,000 concurrent listeners, for the most part, it’s money out with nothing in return.

For this and reasons unknown, most feeds that are on broadcastify, unless provided by a group or club, don’t last long.

Does NCST Provide or Use Online Scanner Broadcast

The simple answer is no.

While we have used broadcastify in the past to listen to scanners when away from our physical radios, we’ve never provided a feed to any online system, nor do we know any of the volunteers that have provided feeds.

The slightly longer answer is, we are looking into it.

The types of radios we use are not normally conducive to being able to send the audio over the internet to services like broadcastify. We are however looking into what it would take to be able to do so, and the cost associated.

We should know within a few weeks, however, we will be honest and say that it would be something that we provide as a cheap subscription service to help defer the cost. We’ll update everyone in the near future if this is going to happen and what it’d look like.

How does NCST work.

As an amatuer radio operator, we’ve got quite the collection of radios. Some of these radios are capable of receiving and decoding digital APCO p25 radio systems.

Using these radios we are able to listen to up to 6 calls at once across the entire p25 system, using custom software we are able to record and store those calls on a computer system that allows us, when the radios are working correctly, to go back to a time and listen to the radio traffic as it occurs.

The downside of having up to 6 transmissions playing at once is listening to all the information and understanding all of it live, this is why recording the audio and being able to play it back comes in handy. Most vehicle pursuits, for instance, have multiple agencies involved, with dispatchers speaking with them all at the same time.

We take the information we receive while listening to the radio and in the case of certain calls, update the Facebook page and or website. For some calls, we retain the information and reach out to different agencies for more information before writing articles and releasing them on the website.

We operate when we are around the scanners and are listening. This is quite often, however currently Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 5AM to 5PM we are not able to be around the scanners so you’ll see a decrease in real-time information.

In Summary

While we appreciate those that have provided feeds to online sites like Broadcastify, we understand the process behind it and the challenges they face.

While we wish everyone could have easy and ready access to the scanners and the information provided by them, the reality is that it’s not something that has tended to be reliable in our area.

While we don’t provide feeds to these online services, we are exploring options to provide users with a low cost manner to access the streams.

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