Citizen, an intriguing crime and neighborhood watch app, is studying a “pilot project” that could allow users to request private security at scenes.

A program for a private in-person and on-demand security force has reportedly been in the works for months, as Citizen is testing “fast response times and instant communication between Citizen and security partners,” according to a story first reported by Vice on Friday. . A black SUV with Citizen brand logos has also been seen in Los Angeles, according to a Wednesday tweet.

A Citizen spokesperson told USA TODAY that the company is conducting a “pilot project” with LAPS, or Los Angeles Private Security, a Los Angeles-based security firm.

“LAPS offers a personal rapid response service that we are testing internally with employees as a small vehicle test in Los Angeles,” the Citizen spokesperson said. “For example, if someone would like an escort to escort them home late at night, they can request this service. We have spoken with several partners in the design of this pilot project.”

News of the Citizen pilot program comes nearly a week after the app falsely accused a man of starting a wildfire in Los Angeles. The app had offered a $ 30,000 reward to anyone who could provide information leading to the arrest of a man, according to The New York Times. Police detained a man whose photo had appeared on the app for up to 15 hours, as Citizen said he had mistakenly identified him. Subsequently, the police arrested a second man.

However, the overall mission of the app is “to make your world a safer place.” This is what the app is all about.

What is the Citizen app?

The Citizen app was originally named a Vigilante in 2016 by a New York-based corporation called sp0n on the premise of allowing ordinary people to report local crime in their area and broadcast live video from the scene as a possible deterrent.

“What if everyone within a quarter of a mile of every reported crime was immediately informed? What if there was a camera on every crime? What if there was transparency, if we all knew where the crime is being committed and how is it being resolved? ” a Citizen blog post had suggested in 2016.

VentureBeat reported that shortly thereafter, the New York Police Department issued a statement that said: “Ongoing crimes should be handled by NYPD and not by a vigilante with a cell phone.

Apple soon removed Vigilante from its App Store for policy violations.

Vigilante was rebranded Citizen, debuted in New York City in 2017, in Baltimore and Los Angeles in early 2019, and then began appearing in other major US cities.

Citizen allows its users to get “the real story of the people on the scene,” according to the company’s website.

The app uses smartphone locations to notify users of potential criminal activity in their area, including those that occur in real time, with live images of users at the scene and live discussions.

Citizen relies on police, fire, and emergency 911 calls and radio transmissions and puts them on a map. The app also encourages users to chronicle and broadcast what is happening at nearby crime scenes if they can do so safely.

“We believe in giving people a way to use their phones to protect a neighbor, to prevent a tragedy and to count on each other. And to create a safer world for others,” the Citizen website said.

How widely is Citizen used?

Citizen currently has more than 7 million users who have sent more than 4 billion alerts. The app is available in major US regions, including:

Austin, Texas
the Angels
Miami-Dade County
The Minneapolis -St. Paul’s area
New York
Phoenix metropolitan area
San Diego
San Francisco Bay Area
Stockton, California
Toledo, Ohio
Tucson, Ariz.

Why has Citizen been criticized?

While the app has raised around $ 133 million in funding and has been praised for partnering with Los Angeles County during the pandemic to create an app for contact tracing during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also come under fire for potentially putting people in dangerous situations, such as misidentifying a suspected suspect in the Los Angeles wildfire


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