What chance do crime and corruption have when technology unites the forces of good?
Today, we are launching Citizen for iOS and Android.
The Citizen app notifies you when a crime or other major incident is reported to 911 near you. It allows for the live-streaming of incidents, giving you complete transparency of your neighborhood around you. In New York City alone, there are nearly 10,000 calls to 911 each and every day. Many of these are for life-threatening emergencies or crimes occurring with thousands of people around.
On October 26, 2016, we released a prototype of our technology that we named Vigilante, available on the iPhone. Alongside the app, we published a dramatized video showing an assault incident thwarted by a group of people using the app.
The response was overwhelming; within 48 hours we had downloads and in-app requests for service in all 50 states, in addition to dozens of countries around the world. The importance and need for this app was quickly validated.
But the name Vigilante also created a distraction for some people. And for some, we left the impression that it was encouraged for average, untrained users of the app 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.
This was a good thing. We needed to make some changes.
Our mission has always been to build safer communities through transparency. With the learnings from our first launch, and a renewed determination towards our mission, we have made a series of important changes.
- The name is now Citizen. This more accurately communicates our mission, and we have entirely rebranded the app.
- We have reinforced our focus on safety. We built this app to create safety; any reckless or dangerous behavior will not be tolerated. Our in-app messages now more strongly communicate this, and the terms of service have also been updated to reflect this policy.
- Our network has broadened. We have incorporated advice from, and are now in active communication with, officials from the City, representatives from the New York Police Department, and a variety of community leaders.
Today, we are proud to announce we are launching on both iOS and Android as Citizen.