“We are not terminating this chase!” #ChicagoScanner

Passed 6,000 tweets on Twitter tonight, so thought I’d do a little bit of reflection of my journey coming to this point. For those of you unaware, the majority of my tweets now come from the police scanner where I share notable tidbits I hear. The title comes from this police chase audio but I recorded another police chase tonight which is also worth listening to.

It’s been a wild ride since March when I first bought a little USB stick that allowed me to listen to a vast radio frequency spectrum. Since that March 16th day when I placed the order, I have met some great people along the way who are making sure each victim of crime gets coverage. Some interesting anonymous characters too who stay up night and day to provide journalists with the information they need. Now I am one of the people who provides information, and I hope to one day play a part in reducing the amount of “shots fired” calls I hear. This is my story of how I became “radioactive”.

At first, I listened to the CTA radio because I wanted to know what my commute was going to be like, or let others know if I had some “insider” information as trains and buses often radio in problems they encounter along the route. Started tweeting out some notable snippets from those frequencies, but quickly realized there was much more important news to be shared by listening to the police frequencies instead. Having been following a couple other people who listen to police scanners like Peter Nickeas and Spot News, I had an idea of what was going on in Chicago but never really understood or found the streaming audio notable.

That changed very quickly. The day after I placed my order for the USB stick, the #LSDstandoff happened (police chase led to a 9+ hour standoff on Lake Shore Drive). There were a variety of reporters and citizens sharing information about the standoff, from what the offender was doing in the car (after police had boxed him in on Lake Shore Drive and SWAT had arrived), to what the news helicopters were saying. This fascinated me, and I wanted to be a part of it. I became a part of the coverage by applying my technology knowledge to the situation, creating a “mirror” for the audio stream as hundreds of people were listening to it at once, far more than the servers were capable of handling. I shared the mirror with some of the people covering the story, who shared the link among their followers.

This opened my eyes (and ears) to the idea that technology can be used to greatly enhance breaking news coverage. I have been interested in that sort of news since I ran up to the window as a toddler to see what firetruck was coming. Since the day of the “#LSDstandoff” I have shared more and more information with the Chicago Twitter community who covers this sort of “crime and mayhem” breaking news, originally replying directly with more information, but a short time later putting together independent stories of what I have heard/seen. Five months later and with two additional police scanners, I have spent (probably more time than I should have) nights and weekends sharing what I hear on the various Chicago Police Department radio frequencies.

Thus, I have observed many violent nights in the city over these few months, as well as picked up many technical terms pertaining to police work as well as radios/the RF (radio frequency) spectrum. I’ve grown tired of hearing of all the people shot, putting off meals to let others know about what is going on in communities they may not live in but still care about. This prompted me to launch CrimeIsDown.com in a previous blog post.

Tonight after doing some thinking, I’ve decided to pivot CrimeIsDown.com a little bit - it’s going to focus more on assisting journalists now. The site will be geared towards keeping journalists and the public informed on the basic facts, so those writing can focus on doing what they do best, telling stories that wouldn’t have otherwise been told. I’ve always heard (and agree) it’s a good idea to focus on one thing and do it extremely well, so I’m taking that approach. Once I’m satisfied with that, I intend to branch out and deal with tacking the many different problems that are causing crime across Chicago to occur. As I am working components of the site for projects in IIT’s COM 327 Standards-Based Web Design class, I hope to have the full site launched by the middle of November, with a smaller beta version coming sometime in the next few weeks.

I’m excited to see where this journey continues to take me. Spreading information and educating the masses is something I am very passionate about, so I hope to do that with this project.

Again, I will continue to think out loud on Twitter at times, so follow me @EricTendian and join the conversation. Thanks for reading - hover over the circle below if you enjoyed the post. I am grateful for your support.


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