Four things you should know about the new “FR-Alert” system, which alerts you to your smartphone in the event of a major incident

Four things you should know about the new “FR-Alert” system, which alerts you to your smartphone in the event of a major incident

Early mobile alerts in the event of a major incident? During violent storms that killed one person, on the night of Saturday 4 June to Sunday 5 June, the French authorities communicated mainly on social networks. In the future, the French will be able to receive notifications on their mobile phones. France has launched a “FR-Alert” system, which should allow as many people as possible to be alerted to the area in question in the event of a serious incident. Here is what this new facility consists of, which, according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin, will be generalized by the end of June.

1Alerts sent for any type of serious incident

Specifically, people present in the area facing danger will be able to receive alerts on their smartphones, accompanied by an audible alert and vibrations, even in silent mode. On the other hand, the phone will not accept it in airplane mode or off.

in declarationquotes the interior ministry “tany type of significant event justifying a safety warning to the population concerned “. This includes natural disasters (egflood, storm and cyclone, fire, tsunami, volcanic eruption), accidents bbiological and chemical (pollution, gas leakage, nuclear accident), health (epidemic, pandemic, agri-food incident), ttechnological and industrial (failure of telecommunications equipment, serious accidents on road, rail or air networks, industrial accident),a serious public security incident or an act of a terrorist nature.

The alert will contain information about the nature of the risk, its location and also the behavior that needs to be taken in order to protect yourself. Android smartphones are already configured to receive these notifications. No registration is required to influence this new system and it does not allow the state to collect location data.

2Testing before full deployment at the end of June

warning system, announced in 2020 after the fire at the Lubrizol factory in Rouen, it will be fully operational in France and overseas from the end of June. European directive undertook France to equip itself with such a system by 21 June 2022. By then, notifications could be sent as part of civil security or public security exercises.

Before the end of June, “The adoption of this notification does not require any action on the part of the population, nor any security behavior which should be respected.”, the ministry continues in a press release. For example, the FR-Alert was tested in Bouches-du-Rhône from 16 to 19 May, during civil security exercise Domino 2022which he had surprised some residents.

3Technology that does not rely on SMS

The FR-Alert system is based on mobile broadcasting technology (“cellular broadcasting”), which has been used for many years in many European countries, the United States and Japan. It is not based on SMS, but on waves transmitted by telecommunication antennas.

Advantage: notifications are lighter than SMS, so there is no network congestion when sending to a large number of people. On the other hand, it is based on 4G, which excludes regular phones. The geolocated SMS system will therefore be deployed later, adds the Ministry of the Interior.

4A device born of a SAIP failure

Mobile broadcasting requires relatively demanding infrastructure upgrades on the part of operators and public services. That is why France first tried to create an application that would perform the same functions. initiative, launched in 2016 under the name SAIP, was a failure. The application was poorly downloaded and often did not work in time, as in the attack in Nice or terrorist attack on a supermarket in Aude in March 2018.

Since its deactivation in 2018, the authorities communicated their warning messages mainly through social networks. FR-Alert will also add to existing alert systems, which include sirens and television and radio broadcasts.

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