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Uber for security?

It can cost a company anywhere from $20 to over $100 per hour to hire a security company. And while guards are essential to some businesses, not everyone can afford to invest that much in a full-time security team. 

Those needing a more flexible solution may get the service they’re looking for through on-demand security apps. 

On-demand security is still in the trial phase 

On-demand security is not an entirely new concept. Currently, if you work with a reputable security company, you can arrange for “on-demand” services. Whether an alarm system is triggered in the middle of the night, or an employee needs an escort to their vehicle, someone from the company will come to provide help asap. But, this type of arrangement can only be made possible if you pay monthly or annual fees. 

Citizen, a crime/security app designed for individual users, is allegedly trying to bring more affordable on-demand private security services to people and companies in Chicago. Instead of paying for a monthly or annual service, users would pay a more affordable subscription fee for the app. 

Though nothing has been confirmed, there is speculation that Citizen is trying to partner up with Securitas, an established security company. 

According to Vice, Citizen had a trial partnership with a private security company in Los Angeles in 2021. Security professionals drove around the city in Citizen-branded vehicles and responded to request calls from Citizen employees who were testing the response time of the service. That trial differed from the one that is planned for Chicago; it was designed for private security to rapidly respond to someone in danger rather than perform check-ins or other less urgent services. But the trial didn’t go as well as the company had hoped, and response times were slower than they needed to be. 

This time around, the security company will function as a check-in service for users. For example, a store owner could schedule an event to request private security while locking up their property at night.

On its own, Citizen operates as a reporting and monitoring tool. People can live stream fires, fights, and more. Others in the area can view events in real time. Citizen also provides push alerts to users based on incident reports it puts together from police scanners. For $20 per month, users are connected to agents that will direct emergency services to the user’s location and notify contacts if they request emergency help through the app. 

Potential problems

There is a good reason why Citizen is trying to keep a low profile. Since the company is a for-profit safety app, it may find itself in some ethically questionable situations. For example, it was reported that Citizen’s CEO offered users a $30,000 bounty for locating an arson suspect. Users identified the wrong person, who was apprehended by police. The person was eventually released due to lack of evidence. 

This type of situation could happen more frequently if citizens are incentivized with money to help solve crimes. 

Citizen isn’t the only on-demand security app out there, though it is one of the more prominent ones. It’s possible to find smaller start-up companies that promise easy and effective on-demand services to anyone who needs them. It is unclear where these companies are getting their services from, or if the platform is open to any guard wanting to pick up extra hours. If the latter scenario is the case, it’s not clear how the app verifies whether the guard is certified/qualified to perform the duties being requested by users.  

More apps are expected in the security industry 

On-demand security apps have a lot of potential.  This Uber-type service is certainly something that small businesses and self-employed workers could use. By paying a small subscription fee and hourly rates (as opposed to monthly fees), security suddenly becomes much more accessible. 

Generally speaking, apps have become more helpful for security guards and security companies. There are very simple and practical applications such as digital reports, time trackers or dispatch systems. These types of apps are relatively cost effective, but were designed only for security managers and personnel. The costs of the apps are covered by the company (but they may charge clients slightly more since they are receiving some form of premium service).

Then, there are more comprehensive apps like Patrol Points. Companies can purchase the software and app for guards to use, but security companies tend to be the purchasers since they can use it for multiple clients or sites. Patrol Points’ biggest selling feature is that it has a guard tour system to streamline and simplify scheduled patrols. Security supervisors can create routes and interactive checkpoints for any type of facility or building. Guards can scan checkpoints, take photos, view upcoming patrols, lodge incident reports and sync them directly to the security dashboard, all from their smartphones. 

Not only do these advanced systems keep teams more accountable and in sync, but security managers can create security reports for clients as well, demonstrating the effectiveness of their services.   

The cloud-based technology is dependable and easy to use, with offline accessibility if there isn’t a network connection.  Supervisors can also access data from anywhere, which gives them more freedom to move around. The platform is designed to be scalable to the size and needs of individual companies to improve productivity and keep up with growth.


Security guard technology has evolved quite rapidly in the past two decades, and clunky tools and apps have been thoughtfully refined. In addition to mobile apps and cloud software, security companies have drones, cameras, and even integrated biometric access control systems. 

But smartphones have by far been the biggest game-changers. They are capable of doing so much, and serving so many types of different people. 

Security companies are capable of more thanks to technological advancements, but customers are also becoming more sophisticated and are demanding more from their security providers. They want real-time solutions and greater transparency. Some also crave more flexibility when it comes to costs. On-demand security would satisfy this need for a more accessible security solution. While apps are in their infancy today, don’t be surprised if the service becomes more popular a few years from now.

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