Bill's Nova Scotia Radio Site
SCANNING IN NOVA SCOTIA
Last updated November 10, 2016
This short page is intended to guide someone who is coming to Nova Scotia, or lives here already and is thinking of obtaining a new scanner. It assumes that you already know about scanning in general, the basics of radio communications, whether it be to understand about the radio spectrum, or about systems or methods like trunking or conventional scanning. There is also a basic presumption that you are interested mostly in public service scanning as opposed to specialty scanning of such things as aircraft, ships and commercial enterprises.
This page is not intended to list frequencies, sites or talk groups. In general this website is not a provider of specifics such as this but rather a descriptive site. Those looking for such information should check on www.radioreference.com and www.scanmaritimes.com
Okay, most of you interested in scanning are interested in public safety agencies, particularly the police. Well, let's not beat around the bush... If you are hoping to listen to the police in Nova Scotia, you are pretty much out of luck! Only a few town police forces can now be heard, and even they require a sophisticated scanner. Read on for more details.
First of all, just in case you are interested (like I am!):
Transportation Scanning (Trains, Planes and Ships)
Before I go on to the main body of scanning in Nova Scotia, let's get some aspects of specialty scanning out of the way. Marine radio, Aero radio and Railway radio in the province are much like you would find pretty much anywhere else. These all remeain concentrated on VHF and can be received on traditional scanners, and there is no trunking or unusual transmission methods. On this website you will find specific pages on each of these transportation modes.
Aero: Nova Scotia may be on an isolated peninsula on the fringe of North America but it is a very rich aero scanning environment due to the fact that Nova Scotia lies on the direct path between the Northeast Seaboard of the USA and Western Europe. Thousands of aircraft fly over head every day, and there is no shortage of regular and exotic flights passing by and able to be heard, and seen on your computer screen.
Rail: There is only one major railway operating in Nova Scotia, that being CN Rail (Canadian National), and one short line railway. Both of these operate on the standard North American VHF rail channels.
Ships: Marine radio is concentrated, as elsewhere, on the VHF marine band.
Now to the main event:
Public Safety and Government
This category includes all of what might be called main-stream scanning, i.e. police, fire, ambulance and government. I am putting them all together because in Nova Scotia they are to a great extent all on one unified system. This system is the Nova Scotia Trunked Mobile Radio System which is described elsewhere on this site. Briefly put, this is a 700 MHz P25 system and you will require the appropriate sophisticated trunk tracking scanner to hear it.
Police: Nova Scotia is policed by the RCMP and a number of municipal police forces. Overwhelmingly their communications are on the trunk but are encrypted and therefore not at all listenable. Kentville, Bridgewater, Annapolis Royal and Truro police services are on the trunk but remain unencrypted for the present. The municipal forces serving Amherst and Pictou County are on separate MotoTrbo systems that are at least very difficult to be overheard, and may also be encrypted. Other law enforcement in Nova Scotia such as CBSA, Military Police, Conservation Officers and DFO are on the trunk but are encrypted. A few enforcement and inspection agencies are on the trunk but unencrypted, examples being Vehicle Compliance and Parking Enforcement.
Fire: This is a mixed bag in the province. The situation is a little complicated. First of all, paging remains on VHF. As for operations, the largest fire service, Halifax, is on the TMR and is unencrypted. Most other fire services are in a hybrid mode in that they operate partially on the TMR and partly on traditional VHF systems. There is a slow migration towards the TMR but in most areas VHF remains supreme. The TMR system includes a set of 8 dispatch talk groups and 56 operational talk groups that are available for use by the fire departments of the province, and all apparatus are equipped with TMR radios. It comes down more so to whether or not a particular department prefers to remain on the VHF systems they have built and used and are familar with, or move to TMR usage.
Ambulance: Ambulance services in Nova Scotia are provided by one operator (EMC) under contract with the provincial government's EHS, and voice communications are entirely on the TMR, and at present remain unencrypted. Note however that much information is sent via data links and is not open to interception.
Provincial Government: All of the province's many departments are on the TMR, with most of this being unencrypted.
Federal Government: Radio use is mostly by enforcement agencies, and is mentioned with Police above. Parks Canada operates on both the trunk and on their own VHF systems. Actual military operations are on other forms of radio communications.
For more information on all or most of the categories mentioned above, please check my specific pages.