Scanning San Francisco, San Mateo, and Alameda Counties with Garret Farwell

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Garrett Farwell returns to the podcast today to talk about scanning in California, where he lives.

He will break down the systems that he monitors, including a couple of counties like San Francisco, San Mateo, and Alameda counties in California and what he has learned about each County's trunk system using a scanner.



What You Need To Know

  • Garrett will talk about three simulcast systems in the San Francisco Bay Area that he has been scannin.
  • The San Francisco city and county system went through a sizable transition last year.
  • This system recently changed from an analog simulcast system but has changed to a P25 system in recent years.
  • On this sytem, the 800 megahertz simulcast site is where all of the voice traffic is available, like police, fire, emergency services.
  • The 700 megahertz simulcast site for the San Francisco TRS seems to be mostly for data packets and information.
  • This does not align with the notes for this trunk system in the Radio Reference Database that states that all TDMA talk groups (P-II) are on the 800-megahertz system, and then all the FDMA talk groups (P-I) are on the 700
  • Garrett explained how did he conclude that there is not much on the 700 layers by listening to this system and keeping a close ear and eye on the traffic he is monitoring.
  • Another interesting tidbit about the San Francisco TRS is there is a difference between the mobiles and the portables from an encryption perspective.
  • Garrett optimizes his scan lists by avoiding all the full encryption stuff because there is no point in monitoring that.
  • Garrett tends to listen to law enforcement primarily in San Mateo County as well as some of the local law enforcement in the County.
  • The way Mateo County works geographically is we have a mountain range that splits it almost in half, and on the east side of the County, there are a lot of little valleys and areas where I'm sure transmission and reception are difficult.
  • Garrett has concluded that didn't need to scan all the different simulcast systems to hear what he needed. This has helped him to further optimize his scan lists.
  • In Mateo County, the fire response and fire resources are not on the simulcast system.
  • The East Bay regional communication system is primarily located within the East Bay and the San Francisco Bay region. It covers Contra Costa County, Alameda County, and some small parts of Solano County.
  • Garret has been trying to understand how the fire dispatch talk groups are geographically dispatched.
  • So far, Garret has only been primarily using a scanner to monitor and outline each trunk system he monitors.
  • Eventually, Garret would like to start logging the systems with computer software to see more information about how each system is used.

Are you looking for your first scanner radio?

Download our new e-guide, “5 Thinks You Need to Know Before Buying Your First Scanner”.   This free PDF is about 30 pages long and has 5 things you should look for, plus a few extra bonus items to make sure you make an educated purchase.

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