The Citizen crime tracker app is now launching its own emergency response service, promising access to officers who can call 911 or keep tabs on a potentially dangerous situation. Protect, which costs $ 19.99 per month, builds on a beta program launched earlier this year. It’s part of a larger – and at times controversial – expansion effort by the startup, which has integrated a crime mapping system into a live streaming platform while experimenting with private security services.
Citizen Protect is essentially a private security helpline that relies on smartphone features such as location tracking. When subscribers open the Citizen app, they can press a button to call a âprotection officerâ via video, audio, or text. Agents are supposed to talk to subscribers through dangerous scenarios and help callers navigate to a safe public place if necessary. They can dial 911 or a designated emergency contact and provide location information from the caller’s phone. And they can create a public Citizen incident with the subscriber’s consent, alerting nearby Citizen users to what’s going on.
On iOS, subscribers can also activate an automated âprotection modeâ. This allows the app to listen for a “distress signal” such as a shout, after which it will ask if the user wants to call an agent, and then automatically connect to an agent if there is no reply. Users can also quickly shake their phone to connect with an agent. (Citizen says it will add these options to Android soon.) If users have issues but can’t directly ask for help, agents can always listen through a phone’s microphone and call 911 if they do. deem it necessary.
The main service of the citizen is a crime tracker app which publishes reports of nearby security incidents based on usage tips, police scanner data and other sources. He also switched to live video, recruiting paid streamers to cover reports of missing children, house fires and crime scenes. In a statement, Citizen CEO Andrew Frame said Protect marks an evolution from a “one-way system” for broadcasting security alerts to “a two-way system where users can ask Citizen for help.” .
The citizen can be tricked into posting calls in a way that 911 operators do not. Earlier this year, the company launched OnAir, a live streaming system that combines crime tracking with local reporting. In a high-profile dud, Citizen OnAir streamers urged users to hunt down an innocent man falsely suspected of arson. That said, the ad might be of use to some subscribers: Citizen is promoting its ability to spread awareness about lost people and animals, for example, by crediting the app with 20 rescues since its launch in 2017. And it promises that agents will never create a citizen alert without authorization.
Citizen has tested patrol cars hired from private security services, but at least so far Protect does not replace the police or 911. Its agents do not send special private forces and they are purely remote operators. . There are also some features that don’t seem like a huge upgrade to existing smartphone options. Apples Emergency SOS can discreetly call 911 and share location data along with an emergency call, and it includes additional features such as automatic fall detection.
During a call with The edge, Citizen promoted Protect for risky situations that are not yet 911-worthy emergencies. The company says the presence of officers helped defuse disputes during beta, offering examples like someone having an argument lively with an unstable roommate. He says some Black beta users have asked officers to monitor if they are arrested by law enforcement, relying on Citizen’s existing information. police surveillance capabilities during protests.
Protect’s value is based on its promise of prompt and competent support in the approximately 60 US cities where it operates. The citizen tells The edge that Protect’s operators are hired directly, not outsourced by another security department, and that their staff have comfortably supported around 100,000 beta users. He declined to disclose the number of agents he employs and did not provide details on how often most beta users of Protect call them.
A Fast business item in question the capabilities of Protect agents during the beta, noting that the qualifications in a job posting were “minimal”. Conversely, Citizen describes its officers as “highly trained security experts” who sometimes have experience as social workers, police dispatchers and emergency responders. Among other things, he says employees are taking a four-week certification course in public safety telecommunications that includes training on stigma and mental health.
Critics accused the citizen of incitement to fear and paranoia he can therefore sell peace of mind through services such as Protect. A former employee Recount Vice this “The idea behind Protect is that you could convince people to pay for the product once you get them to the highest point of anxiety possible.” Citizen denied this claim, saying it only reveals ârelevant, real-time informationâ about people’s environment.
But Protect could offer some support for people with lingering health issues or threats like stalking. Unlike a 911 call, a Protect call does not directly trigger a police dispatch that could turn violent. And there’s no sharing system that could amplify unbelievable or prejudiced accusations like a social network would, so an agent could theoretically defuse situations without involving anyone else. While Protect is described as an app feature, its value will likely depend on which humans Citizen can hire – and how Citizen tells them to answer user calls.