Crime-Tracking App Citizen Launches Paid Emergency Response Subscription Service

There’s plenty of apps out there for times of leisure, whether you’re scouting local breweries or doing some good old-fashioned candy-crushin’. Citizen’s crime-tracking app is one for the not-so leisure times.

And Citizen just launched an emergency response service offering users quick access to agents who can provide assistance or dial 911 in a potentially dangerous situation.

Who You Gonna Call? Crime-Trackers!

Operating in roughly 60 U.S. cities, Citizen’s app offers users real-time updates of nearby crime scenes, fires, and other potential hazards based on user tips and police scanner data, among other sources.

Citizen’s new Protect service, which will run subscribers $19.99 per month, is essentially a safety help-line that makes use of location tracking, video calling, and other talents of the modern smartphone. Built on a beta program that launched earlier this year, here’s how Protect works:

  • In the Citizen app, subscribers can tap to connect to a “Protect Agent” via video, audio, or text. The agent will attempt to guide users through unsafe scenarios, directing them to safer areas, de-escalating disputes, or dialing 911 or an emergency contact.
  • With a subscriber’s consent, agents can provide authorities or emergency contacts with location data and also create a public Citizen incident, alerting nearby Citizen users to the situation.

Citizen’s Arrest: Despite its everyman name, Citizen is not without controversy. Critics have accused the firm of drumming up paranoia to peddle its services as a sort of peace-of-mind elixir. And the firm’s OnAir live broadcasting platform, which blends crime tracking with local reporting by live streamers, was caught in a bad light when Citizen’s streamers urged users to track down a man falsely suspected of arson.

For its part, Citizen claims it strictly surfaces “relevant, real-time information” about users’ surroundings and promises agents will never create a Citizen alert without permission.

Crisis Qualified? While Citizen touts its agents as “highly trained safety experts,” Fast Company noted that a job listing for a Protect agent featured “minimal” qualifications. With Citizen now looking into private security services, one can only hope any such hires will be thoroughly vetted.

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