The crime-tracking mobile application ‘Citizen’ is now introducing its emergency response service, promising agents who can phone 911 or keep an eye on a potentially hazardous scenario. As part of a beta program that began earlier in the year, Protect charges $19.99 a month.
Citizen Protect is a private safety helpline that uses smartphone features such as location monitoring to provide assistance to individuals. Members can call a “Protect Agent” through video, audio, or text when they launch the Citizen app. It is the agent’s responsibility to guide subscribers through risky conditions and direct them toward an appropriate location in the event one is necessary.
This allows them to contact 911 or a chosen emergency contact and offer location information from the caller’s phone. It’s part of a bigger — and often contentious — growth drive at the company, which has turned a crime-mapping technology into a live-streaming platform while dabbling with private security services.
Unlike 911 workers, Citizens may be motivated to broadcast calls in a way that they are not. The startup introduced OnAir earlier this year, a live broadcast technology that combines crime tracking with local reporting.
ubscribers on iOS can also activate an automated “Protect Mode.” A “distress signal” (such as screams) will trigger the app to ask the user whether they want to call an agent, then connect them automatically if no one answers the call. Users can also shake their phones swiftly to connect with a customer service representative by shaking their phones rapidly. However, agents can still listen in via the phone’s microphone and call 911 if they think it essential if consumers are in distress but cannot ask for aid directly.
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.”
At least thus far, Protect is not a substitute for police or 911. Their agents do not dispatch private security troops and are merely remote operators, according to the company. Using suggestions from users, police scanner data, and other sources, Citizen’s core feature is a crime-tracking app that posts news of nearby crimes. There are now paid streamers available to cover missing children, house fires, and crime scenes.