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Public safety app launches in Twin Cities

Updated: February 24, 2020 05:55 PM

A public safety app called Citizen launched Monday in the Twin Cities, allowing people to monitor nearby incidents, such as fires or missing children.

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Citizen representatives told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS the app provides “real-time 911 alerts to users.”

 “There are a lot of apps out there that crowdsource suspicion, and you can find yourself sucked in and not getting much information,” Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP and social impact investor of Citizen, said. “This is just the opposite. Somebody has to make a call to 911, it has to go out over the 911 system and then our team of former journalists and former first responders have to decide, ‘Okay, that’s pretty serious,’ and then that’s what goes up."

When users open Citizen, the app shows if there are any recent alerts nearby, which may be accompanied by videos from the public.

“As more and more people use it, it just becomes more and more valuable,” Jealous said. 

Citizen has been up and running in other places, like New York City, for several years. 

Jealous and other Citizen representatives visited various agencies in the Twin Cities Monday to explain how the app can be used in the metro. 

Police and fire departments in Minneapolis and St. Paul tell 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS they are aware of the app, but it is still too early to tell if it will be useful for them. A spokesperson for Minneapolis Police Department said they do not anticipate using a new platform like this one because they often do not have time to access an app before arriving to a scene.

But local parents, like Jessica Moldrem in St. Paul, said they appreciate having an extra tool to monitor what is happening in their neighborhoods. Moldrem just used the app for the first time after seeing a number of squad cars on her block.

“If there’s anything going on in my area, I don’t want my kids to be out,” Moldrem said. “So now you can actually go see exactly what’s happening, and then you know that your neighbors are also looking out for you as well."

Citizen is a free app that is now available for download in the Twin Cities. For more information, click here.

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Alex Jokich

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