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FR-Alert: new warning system for the french population

Publié le 21 juin 2022 - Legal and Administrative Information Directorate (Prime Minister)

Crédits : © sitthiphong - AdobeStock

Someone holding a mobile phone

FR-Alert, the new system for alerting and informing populations, has been operational since Tuesday, 21 June 2022. This device allows the sending of notifications on the mobile phone of persons present in an area facing serious danger (natural disaster, biological, chemical or industrial accident, terrorist act...) in order to inform them about the nature of the risk, its location and the behaviours to adopt to protect themselves.

The European Directive of 11 December 2018 requires the 27 Member States of the European Union to set up a system of public alerts via mobile telephony.

What is FR-Alert?

FR-Alert is a new population alert system that allows notifications to be sent to the mobile phones of people in an area affected by a major incident. Developed by the Ministry of the Interior, this facility has been operational throughout the country since June 21, 2022.

The FR-Alert system is based on cellular diffusion technology (« broadcast cell »). Alerts are broadcast as radio waves by telecommunications antennas and not by SMS, in order to avoid saturating the network in case of sending to a large number of people. Cellular diffusion works on 4G (5G in the future), which excludes conventional phones (not smartphones).

The geolocated SMS system running on 2G, 3G or 4G will be deployed later.

FR-Alert is designed to alert anyone in the danger zone through telecommunications networks. It is therefore not necessary to register in advance to receive alerts or to download a mobile application.

If you are in an area facing a threat or serious danger, you receive a notification with a specific beep and vibration, even if your mobile phone is in silent mode. However, you will not receive it if your smartphone is in aeroplane mode or turned off.

Notifications can provide information about:

  • the nature of the risk (fire, flood, industrial accident...);
  • the authority issuing the alert;
  • the location of the danger (establishment, neighbourhood, municipality, department...);
  • the attitude to adopt (stay at home, evacuate the area...);
  • if necessary a link to obtain additional information on an official website.

Further information on the evolution of the situation and the end of the alert shall be disseminated by notification in the same geographical area.

This system complements the population alert and information system (SAIP), which includes more than 2,000 sirens connected to remote activation software, the mobilisation of television and radio for the broadcast of alert messages and that of institutional accounts on social networks. The Ministry of Interior launched a dedicated Twitter account: https://twitter.com/Beauvau_alerte .

What events are involved?

Major events that may be subject to an alert notification are:

  • natural events: flooding, storm and cyclone, fire, tsunami, volcanic eruption...
  • biological and chemical accidents: pollution, gas leakage, nuclear incident...
  • health hazards: epidemic, pandemic, agro-food incident...
  • technological and industrial incidents: breakdown of telecommunications means, serious accidents on road, rail or air networks, industrial incident...
  • serious public safety event, terrorist attack.

Alert Notification Test Phase

Alerts sent before the end of June shall be issued in the framework of civil or public security exercises. If you receive one, you will not be asked for any security behaviour. For example, FR-Alert was tested in the Bouches-du-Rhône region from 16 to 19 May 2022 during the Domino 2022 civil security exercise.

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