Technology has made a lot of things easier. That phone that your eyes are almost always glued to, that tiny, sleek thing, can do almost everything now. What once was a device purely used for talking to other people is now able to stream videos, play games, and book flights. But did you know that it can also do what your police scanner is capable of?
Police scanners can be expensive, we know. The greatest police scanners can cost hundreds of bucks, and it’s understandable if you want the best. If you are strapped for cash, you do not have to miss out — all you need is an Internet connection and a device that can link to it. It does not even have to be a phone as your laptop or PC can do the job as well. And voila, police scanners online! The access to non-classified conversations between police officers, firefighters, EMS, etc. is now opened to you.
But how do you begin?
Radio scanning through the Internet
Generally, there are two ways you can listen on any public police scanning frequency through the Internet. One is to directly access the site of a channel, or one that collates publicly available channels, through a browser. The other is by downloading a police scanner app.
For the former, police scanners online work by opening your browser, and then tuning in by typing in the URL of any of the sites that have online radio scanning services. You can sort by location by entering the desired country, state or ZIP code. The site may also ask for your preferred media player. After settling these things, you can listen away.
Your other option is to download a police scanner app on your device. Regardless of your phone model, you can find one that is compatible with iOS and/or Android. With it, you can browse feeds on your desired location and then select the channel you want to hear. This can be done over and over with no limit.
Now you may be wondering…
What are the advantages of using a police scanner online over a police scanner?
We have already mentioned a benefit of going this route earlier: police scanners can be expensive. Sure, there is a police scanner for every budget, some even going below $100, but you may think that you are not the type to settle. In such a case, using your smart device is great because this is no added cost to you. Most people have access to the Internet anyway, and the purpose is not exclusive to scanning public frequencies alone.
Another advantage is that it is easier. There are no new skills to learn unless the Internet is a foreign concept to you. Owning a police scanner requires you to know how to fine-tune the device just so you can access your desired channel. You also have to know how to program police scanners, like this example. For police scanners online, the websites and the apps you use will automatically do this step for you.
And finally, by using online police scanners, you are not limited by your location. The frequencies picked up by a police scanner can only be so far. With the Internet, the channels listed are from different countries all around the globe. It would not be affected as much by physical barriers like walls, mountains and others as much as a police scanner would. However, if your Internet connection is not as fast as you would like, then that is a different concern.
What are the downsides, then?
You might take us for a purist by saying this, but it is undeniable that a police scanner gives you more control over the activity. The controls that are on the device are made specifically for listening in on radio frequencies. Quality of the feed can also be affected. And of course, you can still depend on it in the case of power outages longer than you would with your phone or laptop.
There is also the case for legality. This depends on the state or country you are in. You may already be tired of hearing this when it comes to radio technology, but it is best to check with your local laws or have an expert brief you on this. Click THIS for a quick resource!
Some laws that are applied to police scanners are also extended to the police scanners online counterparts. In the United States, there is nothing in the law that prohibits you from owning a police scanner or operating an app, obviously, but there are rules made to ensure that these are not abused. For example, police scanners are not allowed in a moving vehicle and there are added charges for having one while committing a crime, all for good reason. This applies to police scanner online apps as well. Even though it is harder to prove that you are using it when you are caught breaking the law, you can still be sanctioned just by having it installed alone. But this is an area that should be explored beyond this paragraph — again, please check with your local laws or have an expert brief you on this.
Ready to listen online through a browser or an app?
Great for you! It is easy and can be done even in the absence of a primer. If you are wondering which app is the most favored for online radio broadcasts, you do not have to look further.
Even though some people may find this to be a pretty old school activity, there is some good that can be acquired here, especially when an emergency occurs (Here are my personal learnings: https://www.ratedradardetector.org/police-scanner/10-things-learned-listening/). There are even some funny moments you can be privy to by accessing a channel. But it is also important to observe responsible use of the technology that we are gifted with — when a police channel goes offline or the authorities ask that you do not reveal details that can be easily obtained by eavesdropping on them, you should do what any upstanding citizen would.