Citizen the crime-tracking app is now launching its emergency response service, promising access to agents who can call 911 or keep tabs on a potentially dangerous situation. Protect builds on a beta program that launched earlier this year and costs $19.99 per month. At the startup, it is part of a sometimes controversial and larger expansion. The company has built a crime-mapping system into a live broadcasting platform while experimenting with private security services.
Citizen Protect is essentially a private safety helpline that draws on smartphone features like location tracking. When the Citizen app is opened by the subscribers to call a Protect Agent, they hit bottom via video, audio, or text. Through unsafe scenarios, agents should talk to subscribers and direct callers to safe public places if necessary. 911 can be dialled by them or designated emergency contact, and location information can be provided from the caller’s phone. A public Citizen incident can be created by them with the subscriber’s consent, alerting nearby Citizen users to what’s happening.
An automated “Protect Mode” can be turned on by subscribers on iOS. This sets the app to listen for a distress signal such as a scream, and after, it will ask if the user wants to call an agent and then connect to one automatically if there’s no answer. To connect with an agent, users can also shake their phones rapidly. If the user is in trouble but cannot directly ask for help via a phone’s microphone, agents can still listen and call 911 if they feel it necessary.
The main service of the tet app is a crime-tracking app that posts reports of nearby safety incidents based on police scanner data, user tips, and other sources. It is moved into live video and recruiting paid streamers to cover reports of crime scenes, house fires, and missing children. In a statement, Citizen CEO Andrew Frame said “Protect marks an evolution from a one-way system for broadcasting safety alerts to a two-way system where users can request help from Citizen.”