Have you ever heard sirens in the middle of the night and wondered, “Oh, great, what’s going on now?” Thanks to a website called Radio Reference you can listen to live audio feeds from emergency medical crews, fire and police in your area. It’s an alternative to buying a hand held scanner, most of which are well over a hundred dollars for the basic units.
The Site: Radio Reference
Service Map: www.radioreference.com/apps/db
From the main page simply type in the city that you live in and you will see a list of what is available in your area. I live in the Pittsburgh area and can listen to almost anything within Allegheny County for fire, police and emergency medical services. I mostly stick with the City of Pittsburgh listing and at any given time it is broadcasting six or seven channels so there is almost always something going on.
One of the things that really spooked me about listening to Radio Reference and the City of Pittsburgh feed is the number of calls in my neighborhood. It’s not odd to hear sirens at any time of the day or night but it’s when you don’t hear them but hear the call come over the scanner that you sort of stop and think, “Wow, there is a lot of stuff going on here that I am totally clueless about”. It’s also interesting when you know the local happenings hours before everyone else.
The feed is crystal clear and there are rarely system issues but they do take the feed down every once in a while for repairs and upgrades. Once you start listening to a specific channel or feed you get to “know” the dispatchers and some of the officers that work certain zones. There are times when they let their situations get the best of them and they pop off with a one-liner that has everyone in hysterics. You can pick the format in which you want to listen to the feed, I listen with the Windows Media Player that opens in a separate window so I don’t have to worry about accidentally closing the web player that opens on the page.
For the “City of Pittsburgh Public Safety” you will hear calls from all over the city including the details for sporting events, when the bars close on the South Side, special events, when Port Authority is involved and University of Pittsburgh police. The scanner channels that are broadcast include channels 1, 2, 3, 7, 8 and 12. There are times when SWAT gets involved and they get moved to another channel; most of the times these are active channels that you can listen to without having to do anything. You do not have to program codes or switch channels, everything is done automatically from the website.
This is a website that you can access from anywhere; I like having access to it when I travel so I know if there are any issues in my neighborhood or things that I need to know about when I am traveling home. You can hear about water main breaks, traffic conditions, accidents and emergency issues that your local news might not have access to.