Amid protests, US police scanner apps and others saw record downloads

The download of police scanner apps, tools for private communication, and apps for mobile security reached record numbers in the USA last weekend. This happened amid ongoing nationwide protests against the police murder of George Floyd and the systemic problems of racial prejudice that plague the American judicial system. According to new data from the App Store intelligence agency Apptopia, a total of 213,000 scanner apps from the US police were downloaded this weekend, including Friday – an increase of 125% compared to the previous weekend and a record number for this group of apps.

The group of top apps included those with similar, if somewhat generic, titles such as Scanner Radio – fire and police scanners, police scanners, 5-0 radio police scanners, radio & fire police scanners, and police scanners +.

Police Scanner app

The Police Scanner app recorded the most downloads in the group: 19,000+ on Friday, almost 24,000 on Saturday and 35,700+ on Sunday. However, the daily number of active users for the Scanner Radio – Fire and Police Scanner app was higher throughout the weekend. During this time, more than 43,000 to almost 45,000 users started the app every day. This was followed by Police Scanner, the daily number of users of which, according to the Apptopia report, was between 38,000 and more than 40,000.

Overall, however, the downloads were fairly distributed across the group of apps. This indicates that people are more likely to come across the apps through app store searches rather than through word of mouth recommendations for a particular app or ad.

US police scanner apps

In addition to the record downloads for police scanners, two other apps saw a significant increase due to the protests: the encrypted messaging app Signal and Citizen, the latter a community security app for real-time warnings and live videos.

The signal was downloaded almost 37,000 times over the weekend and Citizen was installed over 48,000 times, the company found. On Sunday, both apps broke new records for one-day downloads in the USA with almost 24,000 downloads for Citizen and 15,000 for Signal.

Police scanners and other communication apps were just a few of the tools used to monitor protests over the weekend. Users have also communicated through social media posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat, including by posting and sharing videos, photos, and other live streaming events. Some people believe that these platforms offer a better real-time window compared to news reports that edit or bias the content and miss some of the key stories that would otherwise be overlooked.

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