Communications monitoring is the one method that enables you, as an individual, to receive uncensored information regarding events, overall situation, and other happenings in your local area. A police scanner gets you that raw information straight from the source in real time. The equipment is a one-time purchase, requires no ongoing subscriptions, and is as affordable as a decent rifle. With a good external antenna, you will be able to reach out and hear to at least a 20 mile radius from your listening post, depending on location. A wide range of communications users ranging from public safety to critical infrastructure providers/maintainers will be available to you. You can pick and choose from among these users, depending on your intelligence requirements.
Communications monitoring is the electronic version of the “passive listening” HUMINT collection technique detailed by Tom Baugh in his recent article (http://starvingthemonkeys.com/2017/01/29/five-humint-collection-techniques/). Just like its HUMINT equivilant, it's low-impact, low-risk, anonymous, and very fecund. It also has the added advantage of not requiring you to attend expensive events with sketchy people. You can't catch things off the electromagnetic wavelengths the way you can off a toilet seat.
Finally, communications monitoring gives you the satisfaction of knowing what's really going on, and lets you effectively figure out the social/political alignment of the local establishment mass media, and how they “spin” their “news stories” versus what really happens.
So what do you need to get started? One item:
For those who can't see the Amazon Associates ad, it's a Uniden Home Patrol II - http://amzn.to/2k9XzMQ
The built-in database is pretty good, and can be updated. It'll even record audio for later analysis. Operation of this unit is real simple. You insert rechargable batteries, attach an antenna, plug in the AC power supply, turn it on, and enter in your zip code. It'll load up the memory channels within a certain (selectable) mile radius, and start scanning. Keep a notepad and writing instrument nearby, and start taking notes about what you hear.
This article is from the soon to be released February, 2017 issue of Signal-3. If you would like to learn more, please subscribe. Signal-3 is a monthly electronic newsletter, delivered in PDF format via email list announcement, that covers the technical aspects of down-grid communications, information collection systems, and other self-reliance and preparedness topics. Subscriptions are $40/year. Payment is by cash or (payee-blank USPS) money order sent to:
c/o Tom Filecco
PO Box 1351
Riverton, WY 82501