Public safety app Citizen is paying contract workers overseas to listen to US emergency scanners, sparking a recent union campaign among its New York employees.
While staff at New York City-based Citizen was responsible for listening to emergency scanners and writing reports on police and emergency calls, that task is now being outsourced to about 200 contractors primarily based in Nairobi, Kenya, The Post has learned. .
The cost-cutting move has left New York employees worried about their future at the company — and about the accuracy of citizens’ safety reports, which are sent to 7 million users in 30 US cities.
“We are actually at a really low point for quality,” a Citizen source told The Post, adding that the new contractors are “all too young and not that experienced.”
Starting this Wednesday, foreign workers will be solely responsible for transferring via all live emergency radio feeds in the US, according to the source, who works at Citizen but is not directly involved in Union Drive.
Once foreign workers hear something new enough — like cops responding to a shooting in Brooklyn or a fireman battling a three-alarm fire in Beverly Hills — the story will be “flatten out” and a US-based civilian employee. Will be responsible for composing information and filtering through user submitted photos and videos according to the source.
All of these tasks were previously handled by Citizen’s US “Central Operations” team, whose employees are now moving on to form a union. As the team’s duties under the outsourcing scheme have been reduced, it has seen free meals taken away and paid time off policies become more restrictive. As per the source, he was also told that he should not bother to apply for other jobs in Citizen as he will not get the same.
While there has been no official round of layoffs, there is a feeling within the group that they are “being advertised”, the source said, adding that eight to 10 central operations employees out of 80 have left the company in the past two years. month. None of them have been changed.
“Those who are putting in their two weeks and want to end their two weeks are being asked to leave immediately and cut off from all their communication,” the source said.
A Citizen spokesperson confirmed that the company is working with CloudFactory, but disputed some of the source’s other claims. The spokesman said four people – not eight to 10 – had left the central operations team in the past two months. The spokesperson also argued that central operations staff have other opportunities within the company but did not deny that the team is shrinking.
Some Citizen employees are reportedly concerned about hearing hours and hours of emergency calls in the US to low-paid CloudFactory contractors. These calls may include graphic descriptions of shootings, car wrecks and other horrific incidents.
“They are hearing terrible things on the radio and they are not getting the same mental health care as our analysts,” the source said.
Citizen — which has raised $133 million in funding from backers including Peter Thiel — argued that outsourcing emergency radio monitoring gives Citizen more time for US workers to focus on oversight. A spokesperson for the company also told The Post on Monday that the company was against “interference from outside union.”
The firm reportedly handling Citizen’s outsourcing is called CloudFactory, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The company’s website reads, “Cloud Factory uses technology to make it super easy and affordable to automate and outsource routine, but critically important data work so our customers can focus on the bigger things that matter.” Will take their business forward.”