On January 21, tragedy struck Harlem. Two New York police officers were shot during a domestic violence call. A smartphone notification on the Citizen app alerted many in the city about the incident, allowing them to watch the incident unfold in real-time. The breaking news application lets users know when crimes or police activity are reported in the nearby area. The system of police accessibility and information serves to protect citizens in busy cities, giving them a direct stream of the action as it takes place.
Savvy entrepreneur and CEO Andrew Frame launched the application around six years ago. Since then, the app has grown to boast more than 10 million users across the United States. As he puts it, ‘people need the tools to protect themselves’ and the app serves that purpose. It’s all about utilizing the power of community and emerging technology.
“There are two things that make people afraid: Knowing exactly what’s going on and not knowing what’s going on,” Andrew Frame recently told FOX Business in an interview. “I wish that we live in a crime-free, total peaceful zone right now, but we don’t and people need the tools to protect themselves. Safety was a highly under-served space,” he said. “The thesis was, why wouldn’t anybody have this app? And that has sort of materialized.”
The Inception of Citizen App
While the Citizen app has recently surged in popularity all over the country, its origin story dates back around six years. At that time, Andrew Frame was living in New York City and wanted to create a service to protect locals. He launched a free app—under a different name—to offer users real-time crime and police activity updates. The system used 911 data to collate the information and swiftly pass it onto the user-base. What’s more, users particularly close to crimes could opt to get cell phone notifications as they happened.
The concept allowed the company to use existing resources in a whole new way; taking readily available data and making it accessible to a wider audience. As Andrew Frame recently told FOX Business, this new platform gives users “the greatest degree of potential energy the world has ever seen.” He explained that he saw an opportunity to create a new system that gives users something that is “direly needed by all people.”
Noticing that gap in the market pushed Andrew Frame to put together a team and cold start the network. The technology first used police radios and zoomed in one the thousands of 911 calls that are made every day in the city. The result was a new type of safety mobile application that put the power directly into the hands of its users.
“What allowed this app to be created was not necessarily permission from the police or permission from the city. It was really just the fact that radios had been open for the last 20 years,” Andrew Fram told FOX Business. “And so, I don’t think they would have ever expected that an app developer would come along and turn that into a public safety platform. In the early days of this, myself and the team were literally like climbing buildings, trying to track down landlords that would let us put our hardware out there on their roof.”
Powered by 10 Million Application Users
Fast-forward to the modern-day, and the app has expanded to include more than 60 cities across the United States. Its recent boom has meant that there are more than 10 million users alongside around 100,000 subscribers who pay for the additional ‘Protect’ feature. Around a third of New Yorkers now use the app, which is a huge achievement, given that the city was the birthplace of the concept and the subsequent technology.
It’s no wonder that so many citizens are adopting the platform and relying on it for their personal safety. The network has proved to be one of the quickest ways to gain important information in real-time. In 2021 a New York University study revealed that the Citizen app alerts notified users more than half an hour earlier than traditional emergency medical service systems, when used by medical staff.
According to Andrew Frame, many first-responder staff have begun to use the Citizen app “for situational awareness, to prepare for their decision-making.”
“So there’s just been this enormous byproduct that comes from this, you know, relatively simple and pure mission of just keeping our users safe,” he told FOX Business. “But it surprises us each and every day how people are using it to stay safe.”
The Future of the Citizen Network
While the Citizen network is off to a remarkable start, there’s scope for more success. The company will be buying a disaster preparedness tech firm called harbor soon. Combining these two technology firms will give Andrew Frame the opportunity to expand the already large platform and provide up-to-date severe weather reports. As the app and platform start to boast more features across the board, there’s no telling what the future holds.
Citizen Protect—a premium service offered by the platform—now allows users to gain instant help from agents when they feel unsafe. Whether they are walking home alone or simply in an unknown area, users have the chance to get in touch with a Protect agent and gain the support that they need. The 24/7 feature has already become popular among app users and also allows citizens to create incident reports as they see them.
About Andrew Frame and Citizen App
Andrew Frame is the CEO of Citizen app, a network that protects its users by serving up real-time crime updates, severe weather reports, and offering support. Opening up the realms of 911 reports, the app gives users direct access to the latest incidents as they happen. The entrepreneur launched the beta version of the app back in 2017 under another name and the platform has since grown to serve more than 10 million users.