The public will soon have an app with an emergency button that will enable their videos and photos of public incidents to be turned into real-time intelligence for first responders.

By Joe McDonough


Posted on April 3, 2018

First responders to terror attacks, school shootings, and other public crimes such as child abductions, will have real-time information at their fingertips.

A national security platform and public app currently being developed by Australian software solutions company Citadel Group using Microsoft’s new Azure Australia Central secure cloud region, is being touted as a game-changer.

The Citadel app allows the real-time upload and analysis of all data streams from smartphones near the scene of an incident, and uses AI technology to turn all of that video and audio content into vital intelligence for the first responders.

To work the system, the smartphone operator would press an emergency button which would turn on all the information-gathering components of the phone, such as the microphone and camera, as well as pinpoint the users’ location.

“We’re confident this will work because it’s a natural reaction anyway,” Citadel’s general manager of national security Rob Hartley said.

“Like it or not people’s instinctive reaction now in the event of an incident is to take out their phones and start streaming it, or take photos of it. What this does is channel that reaction somewhere more usable.”

It will also help authorities to much more speedily and efficiently piece together the whole incident.

Where the FBI tasked about 150 agents with the job of combing through social media videos and photos to produce leads in the investigation into the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, the Citadel app would collate all of that information and analyse it in one place.

At the time, Boston Police commissioner Ed Davis was quoted as saying, the process involved going through “every frame of every video we have to determine who was in the area”.

Citadel CEO Darren Stanley told News.com.au, the idea for the app came as its creators watched the Lindt Cafe siege unfold in Sydney in 2014.

“First responders didn’t have the information they needed at the time to take out the perpetrator and we felt we could design a system that made all that information available to first responders to more accurately deal with that situation,” Stanley said.

Managing director of Microsoft Australia Steven Worrall said the company was proud to work with Citadel on such an important cause.

“Public safety and security is of paramount importance to all Australians,” he said.

“The opportunity to leverage Azure and work with Citadel on this world-first application is a great privilege for Microsoft and a clear signal that our investment in Azure Australia Central will have huge national impact.”