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New York company hires 200 Kenyans to monitor American’s emergency calls from Nairobi

In Summary

  • The Kenyans replaces 69 New York-based employees in what is seen as a cost-cutting measure.
  • They will sift through 911 emergency calls and other reports and push them to relevant Apps.

A U.S-based crime-tracking app has outsourced its daily operations to Kenya from New York.

The Citizen App tracks crime in about 60 American cities in real time.

About 200 Kenyans sitting in Nairobi will sift through US crime reports calls and other emergency reports and push them to relevant contacts.

The move is seen as a cost-cutting measure. Sixty nine staffers at Citizen’s New York office enjoyed perks such as free meals, paid time off, stock options, and promotions. Now, the job is being undertaken by 200 Kenyans. It was not immediately clear how much the Kenyans will be earning. In New York, the minimum hourly wage is about $15 (KSh1,650).

New York Workers’ Union

The outsourcing of the services to Kenyans has seen the company’s employees seek to unionise under the New York branch of the Communications Workers of America. 

“We’re actually at a really low point for quality. They (Kenyans) are very young and not as experienced,” a disgruntled employee down-talked the new recruits in an interview with the New York Post.

Former employees also claim Citizen is pushing out workers who want to leave.

“People who are putting in their two weeks and want to finish up their two weeks are being told to leave immediately and being cut off from all their communications,” UK newspaper Daily Mail quotes a source as saying.

The Citizen App tracks crime in about 60 cities. It has reportedly pushed out U.S workers in favour of Kenyans in a cost-cutting move. PHOTO/CITIZEN APP

Vigilante to Citizen

The Citizen app was originally known as ‘Vigilante’. It was released in 2016 and originally covered only New York City. The app was developed by sp0n, an early-stage tech start-up by programmer Andrew Frame.

It is believed that the Kenyan outsourcing deal was sealed by CloudFactory, a North Carolina-based company. It “bills itself as a company that makes it easier for other companies to ‘automate and outsource routine, but critically important data work’,” writes the Mail.

Currently, Citizen is available in over 60 American cities. A report on its website says it serves more than 7 million users.

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