Trunked radio systems have changed the landscape of two way communication both for users and those who enjoy listening to commercial and emergency service transmissions as a pastime. Adopted the world over there’s no denying the benefits these systems bring with increased functionality along with vastly improved security.
For the scanner enthusiast trunking has taken away the guess work in finding the correct frequencies, the problems associated with trying to receive both sides of a traditional non trunked duplex conversation and even having to program the scanner itself, but has all this convenience left us in a dangerous position with our hobby.
Listening to the emergency services is a huge part of owning a radio scanner to the point that buyers of new equipment often get them specifically for that purpose alone. It stands to reason that many EMS services are unwilling to have just anybody listening to every word they say resulting in an increasing amount of EMS radio traffic that was “in the clear” now being encrypted.
Many police forces have approached the delicate subject of encryption in a totally different way but with a change to a trunked system comes new radios all with the option to encrypt data even if they choose not to use it at this time. Regardless of the strong feelings that any organization has about taking away the public right to access their raw radio traffic you can be sure long term planning is being put into place if only from a financial standpoint.
Ever Changing Systems and the Lifespan of Scanners
Trunked radio systems are big business for the likes of Motorola with the need to provide more secure and higher specification transceivers driving forward the technology. Having your customers upgrade to the latest shiny model is good for business meaning even if you take away the effect that encrypted signals have for the radio scanner user you still have to deal with ever changing protocols when new systems are released.
This could make buying new scanners a risky business with a lot of emphasis on how long it will still be useful as a trunking scanner in the face of constantly changing technology within the basic trunking system architecture.
The Role of Social Media
In a bid to fill the void left be closing down the access to EMS transmissions social media is being employed to rely important information that would usually be heard as it happens from a radio scanner.
While this may be an acceptable solution for some any information passed through these channels is going to be filtered and apart from still taking away access to the “raw” details for the scanner user is it going to satisfy the campaigners who still want the unedited version.
Conspiracy theories are born when people only get a fraction on the information they need to make a logical decision, by replacing the raw information they are used to with something like a mini edited press release isn’t going to help the matter
Down the Line
Different countries have widely contrasting views on exactly what is legal to listen to and the change over to secure systems has hardly been noticed in some parts of the world because its difficult to complain when your committing a crime by eavesdropping in the first place.
History has shown world security getting progressively worse over the last 2 decades and without some unforeseen intervention we don’t see it improving any time soon. A stressed environment breeds evolution and invention and we wonder how many years it will be before all trunking systems are encrypted by default?