09.04.2019

An App For Mapping Crime, or Urban Paranoia?

The crime-tracking app Citizen, which recently launched in Baltimore, alerts users to danger nearby. Where some critics see risks, others see a tool for empowerment. Citizen was deployed first in the New York City metro area in 2016 and then in San Francisco, before launching last month in Charm City. There’s a big difference between the app’s initial markets — two affluent enclaves that are now enjoying historically low homicide rates — and its third one. Of the 50 biggest U.S. cities, Baltimore reported the highest homicide rate in 2017; nearly 24 percent of its residents live below the federal poverty line. The city, said Citizen founder and CEO Andrew Frame, was specifically chosen in part because of these fearsome stats. “Given the escalating crime and lack of public safety resources, Baltimore was a great place to try something new,” Frame wrote in a blog post.

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