Last October, a new app appeared on the App Store aimed at preventing crime.
Called Vigilante, the app showed users where crime was happening in real time — and seemingly encouraged them to help stop it.
Vigilante went viral in less than two days, spreading quickly due to a controversial video that showed someone using the app to prevent a would-be mugging, filming the incident and scaring the assailant away.
But Vigilante had a short life span: The app was pulled from the App Store about 48 hours after it launched due to safety concerns.
Now, Vigilante is back on the App Store as Citizen, a crime avoidance tool for metropolitan areas. Here’s how it works.
There are three major differences between Citizen and Vigilante, the first one being the change in name.
Founder and CEO Andrew Frame told Business Insider that he felt the name Vigilante distracted people from the company’s core mission, which is to protect people and cities — not to encourage vigilantism.
Citizen also increased its safety messaging, making it clear that the app is only designed to keep you aware of crimes in your area, de-emphasizing the “vigilante” suggestion from the previous app.
The third major change involved reaching out to public safety experts, police, and civil rights leaders — among others — to get input on how to make this app safe for people to use.
For now, Citizen is only available in New York City — Frame said the company wants to prove the concept in New York first before taking it elsewhere.
“We do have demand to come to many cities across the country already and we do have that on the roadmap,” Frame said. But this will take time, he said, since Citizen does require physical infrastructure and set up in each individual city.