Citizen App Texts You in Real Time If a Crime or Fire is Happening Nearby

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We talk to the founders of an app called Citizen which alerts you when there are crimes or fires happening near your current location.

Chances are you’ve seen a helicopter circling above your neighborhood, an accident or road shut down due to police activity. Now, thanks to a new app called Citizen, you can finally understand exactly what’s going on.

The company behind the app is doing something really interesting: they’re going around to major cities and installing antennas to allow them to listen to police and fire scanners. Then, a combination of artificial intelligence and humans decode what’s being said. The reports are tagged with neighborhood data, date and time and then delivered to the app. Certain incidents, including suicide and suspicious person reports, are filtered out.

“Having this situational awareness can keep you out of trouble. It can prevent you from walking into a dangerous situation,” explained Andrew Frame, founder and CEO of Citizen.


The app is currently providing real-time police and fire activity in cities including New York, San Francisco, Baltimore and Los Angeles.

I’ve had the app on my phone for a few weeks now and it is certainly a lot of information. The reports are a step above what you would find on Nextdoor and Ring’s Neighbors App since the data comes directly from police reports.

One somewhat controversial aspect of the app is that it encourages users to live stream from the scene of crimes, which could be dangerous.

On the flip side, getting real-time alerts to significant situations unfolding nearby can have life-saving potential.

“There was resistance from the police department… [but] we believe that the people deserve to have this,” explained Frame.

In the few weeks I’ve had the app installed, I’ve been alerted to various incidents happening nearby including an armed robbery, house fires and major car accidents. The app will even tell you exactly how far away a situation is from your location, down to several hundred feet. You can add friends and family to your “inner circle” to get alerts about potential situations unfolding near their real-time location as well.

It’s a lot, but if it comes down to a dangerous situation near you, it’s likely better to be an informed Citizen than not.

Download the app:

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