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September 01, 2006  |   Comments (0)   |   Post a comment

Eavesdroppers foiled by scrambler

by Molly Burkley


DRYDEN, N.Y. — Citizens using scanners to eavesdrop on two-way radio communications between bus drivers and the transportation office at Dryden (N.Y.) Central School District are now hearing a cacophony that sounds “like a bunch of ducks,” says Transportation Director David Fuller.

What they’re actually hearing is voice communication filtered through a scrambling device. Fuller said he’s outfitting the radio systems in his 32 buses and six vans with the technology to prevent the public from listening in on bus drivers, who sometimes need to communicate sensitive information to each other and the home base.

“With today’s emphasis on homeland security and protecting people’s privacy, keeping private information private is one of the main reasons we went to this secure system,” Fuller said.

Drivers can engage the scrambler with the click of a button. Fuller, a former military communications officer, said the scrambler does not diminish the quality of the radio signal, allowing drivers and the dispatcher to communicate freely and easily.

Fuller said he has been working with the local Kenwood dealer to convert the radios a few at a time. Older radios require the retrofitting of a scrambling module and software, while newer radios sometimes come with the module already installed. He said the cost to convert each radio is a few hundred dollars, or less if it is a newer, module-installed system.


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