By: Seth George (Loyola Senior)
With everything that is occurring this year, it is crucial to be situationally aware of incidents happening in your neighborhood and city. The phone app Citizen imparts real-time emergency alerts, COVID-19 contact tracing, and provides immediate access to 911-verified information.
Considering the recent crimes committed against families and Loyola students in Rogers Park and Edgewater, the app Citizen can ensure residents are informed about incidents within the community. Citizen alerts are sent out within seconds of a 911 or a user report. This allows users to avoid that area if necessary. Users who witness an incident are able to broadcast live videos to show what is really happening at the scene. Since our news is filtered, Citizen allows people to view the incident unfold and possibly from different angles.
In pre-COVID times, this app would be useful but not a necessity. With the feature SafeTrace on Citizen, users are able to receive the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 for the user’s city, state, and country. In addition, this feature informs a user if they have been recently exposed to the virus by using GPS location data. I find this feature to be the most useful of the app considering the rampant spread of COVID-19.
Although Citizen informs the user of all the nearby incidents, many of these crimes do not pertain to a local neighborhood. A user may be notified about an incident miles away, that will not affect their safety. Users should be able to more narrowly define the geographic area from which they receive updates. From my perspective, the continuing notifications, especially from all over the city, caused me to experience more anxiety. Although the wide net cast by the App’s geographic reach is too broad, I will keep the App on my phone for the COVID updates and tracking capacity.
When someone opens the application, a map displays the location of the user and the nearby incidents. Users are allowed to click on each incident and follow live updates. Updates may include audio recordings of police responses and live videos of the scene. Not only are users allowed to follow live updates, but they are able to report an incident through broadcasting.
In addition, the app will ask to access your contacts enabling you to send updates to friends and family. Citizen creates a community within your city or neighborhood since users are allowed to communicate with other people on the app by commenting and reacting to the incidents.