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Ben Jealous launches his new venture, Citizen, in Cincinnati

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By Dan Yount 

The Cincinnati Herald 

Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP and social impact investor, spent some time at the Herald last week demonstrating Citizen, a new app he has invested in that provides personal mobile safety. Herald photo

Citizen goes live in Cincinnati.  

According to company information, Citizen is a free app that keeps you safe by sharing real-time notifications about nearby emergencies and ongoing incidents. Alerts about incidents like fires, car collisions, and searches for missing people provide information for your own safety. The alerts are accompanied by live stories, real-time updates, and user-generated content to provide you with situational awareness and a comprehensive picture of what’s happening around you. 

“Citizen is a free app that gives you the information you need to stay safe in a big city,” said Ben Jealous, former president of the NAACP and social impact investor, who has invested in the app. “The app levels the playing field by providing public safety information to give users peace of mind. Through information equality, Citizen will empower communities and aid in everything from personal safety to police transparency.” 

This is the second time one of the fastest growing apps in the US has appeared in Ohio, after Cleveland. 

“Citizen keeps you and your loved ones safe,” said Andrew Frame, founder and CEO of Citizen. “It started with a simple idea: to make your world a safer place. Today, over a million people across the United States have downloaded the app and use it to keep themselves, their families, and their friends safe. This year we will see Citizen expand across the United States.” 

“We are at a pivotal moment,” said Bill Bratton, former NYPD Commissioner, LAPD Chief, and Citizen board member. “We have the need, motivation, and opportunity to imagine cities where cops are not just policing communities, but working with the residents in each of those communities whose involvement is the as yet untapped force we need to continue to drive down crime and make every neighborhood safe. I am proud that New York was the first to prove Citizen’s value, and we are excited to bring this technology to the rest of the US.” 

Citizen has evacuated people from burning buildings, diverted school buses from nearby terrorist attacks and, in one instance, led to the rescue of a one-year-old boy from a stolen car. 

Jealous said one of the major focuses of the NAACP has been public safety, which is considered “our first right.’’ He adds, “When I left the NAACP presidency in 2013, I wanted to continue work in the social impact field by investing in starting up new companies along that line. I have been working with the Citizen app for four years. It provides seven alerts about situations in your neighborhood, such as criminal activity, fires, missing persons, violence and other safety issues.’ 

He tells the story about a boy who was kidnapped from a store in New York City, with his mother, who had seen him going out the door, placing the alert and his photo on the app. A missing person in NYC, Jealous said, is usually found murdered in about two hours after they have been abducted. However, her son was reported safe in an office about 90 minutes later due to his photo being posted on the app. 

“This is a valuable tool in the city,’’ Jealous said, “for it empowers people with information. It also lets neighbors know what emergency personal at the scene are seeing through live stream feedback.’’ 

Jealous said he was inspired by his ancestors in his new endeavors. “Everything they did was to make their community stronger. Citizen will make the world a better place and save lives,’’  

Citizen is a free app available for iOS and Android platforms.

The Citizen app. Provided

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