Recently, my local PD went to P25 digital radios, meaning lots of people were surprised when their scanners suddenly went dead, if they were lucky enough to have a PL tone programmed. People using older/less expensive scanners found themselves listening to the nasty roar of the digital data stream.
One of the surprised former listeners was my wife and another was her partner, together the staff AMR Medic 90 in our town. Some of the other crews were surprised, too, when their handheld scanners also stopped hearing the cops. (I get the idea that the PD didn't tell allied agencies what they were planning to do).
My wife had been using a commercial Kenwood talkie that I'd programmed the UHF police frequencies into. She'd often have it on while working, sometimes giving her a 2-minute lead on an incident her rig would eventually be dispatched on.
(Two minutes can be the amount of time from when the cop says, "Send us a medic unit" until the call is actually toned-out to the rig. It really can take two minutes, which I remember from CPR class, can result in a 20 percent lesser liklihood of survival for a patient in cardiac arrest.)
Having a radio also let them know when a scene had been secured by the police and they were clear to enter. Another two minutes saved.
I've thought about purchasing a P25 UHF radio for my wife, though the $1,300 price tag stands in the way at present. My other option is a $500 P25 scanner, which is probably not rugged enough for daily use by an ambulance crew. The scanner is also hard to operate, at least compared to a channelized commerical radio. Turn the radio, pick the channel, and you're done.
As I said, It's sad I can't get my wife a commercial P25 talkie.
However, my wife's partner has a data card for her laptop PC which may provide the answer: Maybe I can send scanner audio over the Internet and they can listen to the cops that way? That has to be cheaper than a P25 radio, doesn't it?
I already own a GRE PSR-500 P25-capable handheld scanner radio. But, I don't want to devote it to feeding audio to my Mac desktop and the world beyond. I am planning to write a long piece about this radio, but suffice to say that the longer I've used it, the less I've come to like it.
Receiving P25 on the Icom, however, also requires a $200+ P25 decoder board, easily installed into the radio. I've been pleasantly surprised at the quality of the recovered audio.
What I decided to do was take audio from one of the dual receivers in the R2500 and feed it into my desktop Mac and from there onto the Internet, That allows my wife's partner to use her Windows notebook (with the wireless connection when Wi-Fi isn't available) to listen to the audio from the Icom. I am using a $40 program called NiceCast to transmit the audio. It's very easy to use--just install the software, select your audio source, and you're on the air.
There are Windows programs that do the same thing, though perhaps not as easily. A challenge for any of them will be available bandwidth--carriers usually offer upload speeds that are only a fraction of the download speed. They also often prohibit servers as part of their Terms of Service. You may also have problems if you don't have a fixed IP address, though there are ways around this.
The solution works, including right here in the office, where I listen to the audio feed on my portable as I move from room-to-room during the day. It also works in the ambulance, though it is not perfect solution since it requires the PC to be on all the time.
It's also pretty expensive if you have to buy a radio just for this application. I'd recommend either the Uniden or the GRE P25 models as a less expensive alternative to the Icom black box.
Scanner audio on the Internet is nothing new, but using my Mac and NiceCast made it especially easy. And it's a solution until something better--like the money truck--comes along.