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US crime-tracking app Citizen is now launching its own emergency response service, promising access to agents who can call 911 or keep tabs on a potentially dangerous situation.
The new paid feature, Protect, offers subscribers access to a live safety agent when they are in “stressful or uncertain situations.” It is essentially a private safety helpline that draws on smartphone features like location tracking.
Citizen uses crowd-sourced content and police scanner traffic to notify users in the United States of local incidents.
Protect can monitor a subscriber’s location if they feel unsafe or connect them through video or text with a Citizen employee who can escalate calls to 911 or first responders. The agent can also notify a person’s emergency contacts or kick off a “public incident,” sending an alert for help to other Citizen users in the vicinity.
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“Citizen has been a one-way system to date. We provide real-time situational awareness and our users can decide what to do with it,” Citizen’s chief executive, according to the company’s statement. “Starting today, Citizen is now a two-way system where users can request help from Citizen.”
The app, originally launched in 2016 under the name Vigilante, in recent months has been expanding its remit. Protect, which will cost $19.99 a month, has been in testing with nearly 100,000 users, but will now be available for the app’s 8 million users, starting with iOS devices, according to international news agencies.