Beginning in 2016, the app Citizen has become a resource for communities to unite neighbors nationwide. The app was created in New York City as a way for people to report crimes in communities. While allowing neighbors to report crimes and create the effect of “citizens arrest.” After a short while, the NYPD shut it down due to crimes not being reported to authorities and neighbors handling the crimes. The app has evolved into a system where individuals with the app are able to post “protests, lost pets, downed power lines, and other community FYIs,” says creator Andrew Frame. To avoid racial discrimination on the app they do not allow suspicious characters as a reportable incident. This app is focused on uniting communities despite the barrier of distance and communication.
A deep and systemic issue within America is a lack of trust towards the authorities that go hand in hand with racial discrimination. This app is focused on human connection and helping people connect via the internet to bring them comfort and a sense of safety in their home and neighborhood. This app works to eliminate racial and sexist discrimination in neighborhoods by offering the people usernames to remain anonymous. As the app continues to evolve, citizens desire the ability to report individuals they don’t recognize or are suspicious of; but Citizen does not allow that at the moment with the Racial Riots of 2020. Despite the massive safety precautions this app takes, it does require your cell location while downloaded on your phone. As individuals move throughout cities, the app alerts them of incidents and emergencies that may put their lives in danger. While it does have many reasons to aid the consumer by having the location services used throughout the day, it also has the effect of advertisements being transformed for the consumer by using the data it has collected, as advertisements do with many apps. The creators of the app have announced they do not sell the location service data to other companies.
Throughout the Racial Riots of 2020, this app has erupted as a way for residents of Minneapolis and other cities within the United States to connect with their zipcode neighbors, connect to the protests and feel safe within their homes. The app updates you on the statewide announcements as well as recaps of the events leading to the protests, incidents, and events in your zipcode. For individuals without the ability to watch news outlets or anxious about the proximity of events, this app allows them to stay well connected. For those with family in the areas of crime, protests, or any other incidents it allows people in different states to connect knowing how their family or friend is safe.
This app is unique for many different reasons. It is open to all genders, ages, and levels of wealth. It is designed for any community in the United States. An app similar to Citizen is Harassmaps (Tactic Link) which is designed for women in Egypt to locate hotspots and warn other women of sexual harassment in certain areas and from certain individuals. Harassmaps is used on the internet as well as cellular devices to make it accessible for women of all different backgrounds. This demographic is specific as opposed to Citizen which is intended for anyone in the United States. Both apps strive to make individuals feel safer at home and on the go. As we move farther into the 21st century, technology will continue to allow individuals connect despite the barriers that used to separate communities.