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Crime-watch app Citizen offers free 1-year premium access to Bay Area’s AAPI community

A New York-based app developer is giving 20,000 Asian American and Pacific Islander residents in the Bay Area free premium access to its crime-watch app to combat anti-Asian hate in the region.

Citizen, an app developed by sp0n, Inc., will give these Bay Area residents one year of free premium access, the company announced on Monday.

sp0n, Inc. has partnered up with San Francisco’s Chinese American Association of Commerce (CAAC) for the initiative, which is funded by the Goldwater Collective.

Hate crimes against Asian business owners continue to plague our city and we need to use every tool at our disposal to protect each other,” CAAC said in a statement.

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Citizen Premium “provides subscribers 24/7 unlimited access to Citizen’s team of highly trained agents through video or text whenever subscribers might feel unsafe or uncertain about their surroundings,” sp0n, Inc. said in a recent press release.

If someone ever feels unsafe, they can talk to an agent, there are no additional fees or costs when you contact an agent. This is not a replacement for 911 and agents will only escalate to 911 with user permission.”

Trevor Chandler, Citizen's director of government relations, explained to Axios that Citizen’s agents come from different public safety backgrounds, such as 911 dispatch centers and fire departments.

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Chandler also noted that last month, the app’s agents had completed 300 “live monitoring calls” and that "tens of thousands” of users have upgraded to Citizen's premium services.

Besides gathering information from police, fire and emergency departments to alert subscribers, Citizen also uses crowdsourced information.

Citizen is a powerful tool in the fight against racial profiling, especially for communities of color who may want to call the police but are afraid to do so,” Chandler was quoted as saying.

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The new partnership comes amid ongoing anti-Asian hate in San Francisco. According to California’s Department of Justice, California saw a 178% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans in 2021.

National coalition Stop AAPI Hate reported almost 11,500 cases of anti-Asian hate crimes nationwide between March 19, 2020, and March 31, 2022.

Featured Image via Christian Mehlführer (CC BY 3.0)

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