Citizen Alerts


Tony Ureste, Contributor

On October 26th, 0f 2016, Andrew Frame the founder and CEO of Citizen released a prototype of an app named Vigilante solely available on the iPhone. The apps main purpose at the time was to notify the community of incoming calls from real time police operators. The app would then send a message to surrounding app users, alerting them of near by threats, ensuring their safety. Soon after the release, the app was growing in popularity. Within 48 hours they had downloads and in-app requests for service in all 50 states, and in additional request from countries around the world. The importance and need for this app was quickly seen by the company. However, the name Vigilante also left the impression that it was encouraging the average, untrained user to race towards any given crime scene. Vigilante was soon removed from the App Store for a violation of Apple’s App Store Review Guidelines, with concerns centered around user safety.

Luckily for the company, they soon realized the importance and the sense of reliability the app gave users and made a few changes to ensure user safety. The name was changed to Citizen, which more accurately communicates their mission, and they entirely re-branded the app. They reinforced their focus on safety, and now all in app messages more strongly communicate this, and the terms of service have also been updated to reflect their new policy. Alongside the new changes, like a new interface and usage options, the app was now officially released to both apple and android users, allowing more people to utilize the app for safety.

For the first few years of its release, the citizen app was solely accessible in New York City. And it was there where most of the apps testing was completed. But after the demand for the app rose, the creators quickly made it to where the app could be utilized in several different cities across the United States. Citizen is currently available in New York City, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. However, Phoenix became the sixth city available on Citizen in late September of 2019. When asked on why Phoenix would be implemented in the app, the creator responded, “Phoenix is the fastest-growing city in the country and there’s been a lot of requests to bring this to Phoenix”. He also stated that Citizen does not associate with local law enforcement yet, but he hopes Phoenix leaders and public safety employees will embrace it.

When interviewing a law enforcer they were questioned for their opinion of the app and what they thought. Officer Colon of the Mesa Police Department responded with, “I think it’s a great idea, especially if it’s to notify a community on the safety of their livelihood, I’m excited to see where this can go”. Alongside that, the majority of the public love the app with its 4.7 star rating on apple and 4.6 stars on android, and request for cities around the world for the app to be usable in their communities.