Wednesday, April 9, 2014

@whatsuptucson needs a new scanner

Tragedy has struck.  I know that sounds dramatic, but it has (at least in my world).

The Pima County emergency services center (I think that's what it's called), which is where all dispatches occur for agencies like Tucson Police, Tucson Fire, the Pima County Sheriff's Department, and other agencies in Southern Arizona like those, has gone digital.  It was part of a $90+ million dollar upgrade that voters approved a while back to bring dispatch and radio systems up to speed and out of the analog age.  Hopefully it will make the jobs of officers and firefighters easier to do what they do best but it causes me what is hopefully a temporary problem.

I've used a scanner that I purchased at Radio Shack (got it 'open box' for $100) to monitor scanner traffic for years.  It's been the basis for how I built a following for @whatsuptucson on Twitter.  I've invested hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours at this point listening and sharing information on Twitter related to police activity, fires, accidents, and even when officers are dispatched to break up parties.  It's been a labor of love to say the least but I thought it was a hobby that was worthwhile to do something for other people that was useful and helpful.  I also do it for free.

My old Radio Shack scanner doesn't have the technology built in to pick up the new digital signals because they use what is called 'trunking'.  I have to purchase a digital scanner that has that technology and unfortunately, after doing some research on, an appropriate scanner is around $500 with shipping.  That is not for the fanciest one, but a scanner that does the job.

It would take me all year to save for that.  I have a good job but my budget can't take the hit for an expense like this.  I haven't won the lottery yet.

The suggestion was made on Facebook that I should do a drive for the scanner.  I have been a bit torn about it because it seems weird to ask anyone for money for a hobby that I enjoy doing even if it has a greater good for a lot of people.  I talked to Anthony to get his opinion and he thought it wasn't morally wrong to try it, so I decided to give it a shot.  Although he thinks I'm too nice of a person already.

If you've got a buck you aren't using or have found @whatsuptucson to be helpful or useful to you, consider making a donation.  For the Go Fund Me page for the scanner, click here.  I can provide a much better level of information continuing to use an actual scanner than relying on a web app.

Thanks for the KENsideration.  You're awesome.'

UPDATE 4/10/14 at 2:00 p.m.:  I am (nearly) speechless.  $290 donated, which is 58% of the total goal at this point -- just 18 hours after I started.  I really didn't realize how much @whatsuptucson and the info I post online and on Twitter impacts people.  I'd hug all of you if it didn't make me seem so darned creepy.

UPDATE 4/10/14 at 5:15 p.m.:  Now I am speechless.  $500 donated, 100% of the goal.  I'm ordering the new scanner tonight.  This is one of the most unbelievable things that has ever happened to me.  Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  The Tweets will keep on comin'!

The old Radio Shack scanner that now just scans and scans
without picking up the fancy new digital signals.
I gave it a hug, it was good to me these last handful of years.