I like being informed, especially when a nationwide, polarizing issue erupts in violence fairly close to where I live. But if you’re like me, and you probably are since you’re cruising articles on Random Nerds, then you probably also fall into that group of people that can’t stand the mainstream media. Today both right-wing and liberal news outlets are sensationalized disasters that in most crises just make things worse by speculating “how dire things will get” rather then reporting actual facts. Social media, specifically Twitter and Instagram, are a much better way to get less-sensational news (depending on who you follow), but then there is always the question of accuracy.

Because of this, I’ve begun relying on listening to police scanners in conjunction with my regular social media monitoring to get actual real-time information about what is taking place during these chaotic events.

Truth be told, the police scanners are rather subdued when compared to other methods of tracking these type of events. Even when I overheard, “They’re breaking into the Ace Hardware store, someone get over there; they’ll get tools equipment and weapons to attack us with” last night, at least I knew that I was getting my information from a reliable source. Plus I wasn’t stuck listening to Wolf Blitzer saying stupid things like “It’s surprising to see this happening in Baltimore, where the mayor and chief of police are black.”

Thankfully, in 2015, you don’t have to go out to Radio Shack or your local apocalypse store to buy a physical police scanner #. As the saying goes, there’s an app for that. In this case, the ‘app for that’ is 5-0 Police Scanner by Smart Apps LLC ($3.99, as of this posting). It’s really easy to use, just hop over to the app store on your iPhone or iPad, and in less than a minute you’ll be getting up to the second updates on all Police, Fire, and EMS activity from around the world.

I’m not suggesting that what you hear on a police scanner should be considered facts or news, but where social media provides a window into what actual citizens are experiencing on the ground, a police scanner serves to balance that story and give law enforcement a voice independent of main stream media. Regardless of how you get your news though, always remember that you have a brain, and it’s your responsibility to spend the appropriate mental energy making a rational judgment about the events unfolding around you.

There is no knowledge that is not power.” – Mortal Kombat/Ralph Waldo Emerson