When something goes wrong, we either blame god or the government. But what if technology could empower citizens to take action on issues they encounter, along with making them more responsible towards their community? Safety mobile app CitizenCOP does exactly that, by helping people in more than 1,000 cities across India and the US to work hand-in-hand with the law while ensuring their own safety.
Indore-based social worker Manish Soni (35) is an active user of the app. “I have reported 11,000 incidents of violation in the last two years to the police on CitizenCOP. Most of these were related to traffic violations, retailers selling cigarettes or bidi to minors and missing children. I advise others to start reporting violations to the police since it’s the best way to contribute to the law and order without any fear of identity disclosure,” says Manish, whose daily habit of registering 10 complaints through CitizenCOP shows what true participation in the safety of one’s city looks like.
Mumbai-based telecom industry professional Paresh Pathak (45) shares, “I have mostly reported criminal acts and municipal issues through the app. Once, my daughter and I were in a restaurant and I noticed a few goons harassing a couple. When we tried to intervene, they harassed us as well. I took a photo and reported the incident, after which a constable was sent in a few minutes to the spot. The goons were forced to leave,” he says.
CitizenCOP was launched as a not-for-profit initiative in 2013 by 20-year-old Indore-based mobile and web solutions company INFOCRATS Web Solutions Pvt. Ltd. It is available for free to download on both Google Play Store and Apple store. A full version of CitizenCOP is currently being used by the police and citizens in more than eight Indian cities, including Noida, Navi Mumbai, Indore, Bhopal, Jabalpur, Raipur, Varanasi and Bhandara, while a light version offering personal safety features is available in 1,000 cities in India and the USA.
What’s noteworthy is the effort taken to successfully push law enforcement departments into using the app. Chhattisgarh Police Department was recently applauded for using this mobile application most effectively, and won the Smart Policing Award by FICCI along with Outstanding Smart Policing Award, at the India Today Digital Enclave 2016. Raipur Inspector General of Police G P Singh says, “There have been 20,000 downloads in Raipur. The application gives us an admin portal from where we can do the monitoring. In Chhattisgarh, we have a response cell for monitoring of all the updates coming from CitizenCOP app. This admin portal is installed inside a control room. I am happy that we are able to improve our delivery to the people due to this application,” he adds.
CitizenCOP is possibly the most all-inclusive SOS application for citizen participation. On one hand, it allows people to report any incident anonymously without having a fear of identity disclosure. On the other hand, it ensures their safety. It is equipped with emergency numbers, travel safety features, as well as database of vehicles (in Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh) and options to create a ‘safe zone’ around a user.
There are quite a few safety and security applications that have been doing the rounds. Some of the popular ones include VithU, Nirbhaya – Be Fearless, Watch Over Me, and Locate app.
But CitizenCOP stands out as an application that encourages and facilitates users to report incidents not directly related to their own safety. “CitizenCOP empowers common man by giving him several security and convenience features. In this way, we can certainly anticipate greater participation from citizens and develop a sense of responsibility towards their city,” says CitizenCOP Foundation CEO Rakesh Jain (45).
Rakesh explains that his organisation works on the backend and provides as much help as it can to the various police departments. “There’s less number of police personnel per lakh in our country. The only way to bridge this gap is to use a disruptive technology and channelise people’s efforts to help the government,” he explains. In Raipur, there have been 1,248 reports registered through the app and the city police took action in 842 cases. CitizenCOP is the recipient of the E-Governance Award for Best Initiative in Madhya Pradesh in the year 2013-2014.
It has over two lakh downloads so far.
CitizenCOP continues to spread awareness through various social media to reach out to more people and encourage them to participate.