How Citizen is trying to rebuild itself by recruiting Asian seniors

How Citizen is trying to rebuild itself by recruiting Asian seniors

How Citizen is trying to rebuild itself by recruiting Asian seniors

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“Citizen, and the premium version, is not a panacea. That won’t solve the world’s problems. It will not stop crime from happening all over the world. That’s not it,” Chandler says. “But it’s a very powerful way for marginalized communities to have their voices heard.”


“Unfortunately, they don’t have a Chinese assistant”

“While the idea from Citizen is awesome… I approach this with a healthy dose of skepticism due to the uniqueness of our community,” says OCA’s Kosai. “One of the things I always think about is how accessible is it to the most vulnerable members?”

He notes that the Asian community in the United States includes “50 different ethnicities and 100 different languages ​​spoken” and that “different communities interact differently with local law enforcement around these kinds of public safety issues.”

Currently, Citizen is only available in English. To be truly effective, it must offer its services in Chinese or other Asian languages, says Jessica Chen, executive director of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. (In an email, Citizen’s Stone said it was “actively investing” in natural language processing that “will allow us to translate the app into different languages ​​in real time,” but didn’t provide details or timeline on these efforts.)

And on a purely logistical level, it can be difficult to help a group adopt a technology when its members have different levels of technical and media knowledge, even more so when English is not their first language. Older people in particular are also likely to need help navigating, from signing up to the platform to interpreting the information it brings to their attention.

“Do I have time to teach them? Am I the right person to teach them? Chen asks.

Josephine Hui, a 75-year-old woman who has lived in Oakland for four decades and regularly travels to Chinatown to work as a financial educator, was among several seniors who recently heard about the app at an event sponsored by Citizen co-hosted by the Asian Committee on Crime, a non-profit organization concerned with security issues in Oakland, and the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce. She was there to see public safety presentations by the Oakland Police Department.

Josephine Hui, 75, at a local safety event in Oakland


“I think [Citizen] is a wonderful app for anyone walking down the street,” she told me there. “Unfortunately, they don’t have a Chinese assistant yet.”


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