INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new public safety app is now available for the first time in Indianapolis.
The company hopes to help people avoid running into dangerous situations.
Indianapolis is the first city outside of the East and West coasts to get the app.
The app called Citizen hopes to allow people to access information on crimes or dangerous situations near a certain location at the tap of a finger. The app currently exists in Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Charlotte, N.C.; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; Minneapolis-St. Paul; New York City; Philadelphia; Phoenix; the San Francisco Bay area; and Tuscon, Arizona.
Police in Indianapolis say the Citizen app could be very helpful but, if misused, it could cause some issues.
Citizen tracks 911 information and loads it all onto a map and notifies you if something is happening near you.
“We are a unique public safety app that sends real time 911 notifications right to your phone,” said Ben Jealous, Citizen app investor.
The idea is to help people avoid areas where their may be an active scene, a car crash or a dangerous situation.
“This app to me has brought greater peace of mind frankly in a city where we have had a lot of serious safety issues,” Jealous said.
Police fear that the ability to load photos, videos and even livestreams will attract people to these scenes rather than deter them.
Capt. Genae Cook, a spokeswoman for Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, said, “Try not to interject yourself to an area where a crime might be occurring. Allow police officers to arrive, any other type of first responders to arrive. Allow them to do their job.”
The company says they have a team that looks at the photos and videos before they are posted to the app as well as monitor live videos.
“The only videos that you see are videos that will actually help you make a decision about how to keep your family safe or just know that the first responders are there and that the situation is being taken care of,” Jealous said.
He added, “They can see what people on the street are seeing. They can see what people in the building next door are seeing and they can get a better sense of what they are going to be dealing with when they get there.”
Police said they believe that having these kind of notifications at the tip of your finger could be helpful if used appropriately.
“When people want to do some type of video or live feed from a scene, this might be somebody’s worst day. We don’t want to highlight that as entertainment,” Cook said.
The Citizen team says they developed the app in a way that they feel could even be helpful for first responders.
While using Citizens and similar apps, police want to remind you to be cautious about the information you choose to share.
Cook iasd, “There is some information that we need to keep, to keep a case. The information that is brought to us and given to us so that that case may stay credible and that we are not putting out false information.”
The app is available for Apple and Android.