FR-Alert: what is this new telephone alert system?

Developed by the Ministry of the Interior, FR-Alert is an alert system that sends notifications to the Android and Iphone smartphones of French people located in an area where a danger is occurring: flood, nuclear incident, pandemic, terrorist attack, etc. Download, update: Practical guide.

[Mise à jour le 16 juin 2022 à 11h57] Flood, nuclear incident, pandemic, biological risk or terrorist act. You will soon be alerted directly on your smartphone if a serious event occurs in an area where you are. The Ministry of the Interior announces the deployment of a new telephone alert systementitled EN-Alert. This device sends a notification to anyone with a smartphone (Android, Iphone) containing the nature of the risk, the location of the hazard and the behaviors to adopt to protect themselves. The launch of this alert system was announced after the fire in the Lubrizol factory in Rouen in 2019. A European directive from December 2018 obliged France to equip itself with this type of security system before June 21, 2022. In the test phase since the end of April, it will be activated in France and overseas at the end of June according to Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin. A life-size test was carried out near the Etang de Berre (Bouches-du-Rhônes) in May: several thousand people received an alert message (loud ringing) to test its effectiveness and the reactions of the population on the ground. What’s this En-Alert? What events are concerned ? How worksdoes he? Should I download a application ? Update your smartphone? The personal data are they protected?

What is FR-Alert?

FR-Alert is a new alert system deployed in France in June 2022. It allows you to send alert notifications to anyone with a mobile phone when they are located in an area facing a serious event (dangerous). FR-Alert will provide information on:

  • the nature risk (a fire, a flood, an industrial accident, etc.);
  • authority who disseminates the alert;
  • the location the danger (establishment, district, municipality, agglomeration, department, etc.);
  • attitude to adopt (stay at home, evacuate the area, etc.);
  • if necessary, a link to obtain Additional Information on an official website.

During the commissioning of FR-Alert, you must have received an update to be carried out on the Iphone. To force the carrier update, go to Settings > General > Information. If you buy an Iphone after the commissioning of an alert system (like FR-Alert a priori), government alerts are enabled on your device, explains Apple. When you receive this type of alert, a specific sound similar to an alarm is played. To enable or disable these alerts :

  1. Go to Settings > Notifications.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the screen.
  3. Under ‘Government alerts’, enable or disable alerts.
  4. In some countries and regions, you may not be able to turn off government alerts.

Government alerts are supported when using a SIM card provided by a compatible carrier. If your iPhone can receive these alerts and it’s near your Apple Watch, or if your watch is connected to a Wi-Fi network, it can too.

There is nothing to do for smartphone users with Android. The FR-Alert system is automatically activated for these phones.

What are the dangers that will be alerted by FR-Alert?

The events justifying alerting the populations are:

  • Natural events : flood, storm and cyclone, fire, tsunami, volcanic eruption…
  • Biological and chemical events : pollution, gas leak, nuclear incident…
  • Health events : epidemic, pandemic, agri-food incident, etc.
  • Technological and industrial events : failure of telecommunication means, serious accidents on road, rail or air networks, industrial incident…
  • Serious public security eventterrorist act

Notification will not show up on smartphones that are turned off or in airplane mode

The device sends cell phone notifications individuals located in areas where a danger is present. “FR-Alert combines two different technologies: the cell diffusionavailable from the end of June 2022 and the Geolocated SMS, which will be rolled out later. These technologies make it possible to send messages to all mobile phones present in the territory concerned by the alert, as soon as they are connected to the network.“says the Ministry of the Interior. Messages will be received even if the smartphone is locked. The message may be accompanied by a sound alert and vibration. On the other hand, the notification will not be displayed on smartphones that are turned off or in airplane mode. “Depending on the brand of the mobile phone, the operator and the place where you are when the alert is sent, different reception times for notifications may be observed.“says the Ministry of the Interior.

Fr-Alert device operation
Fr-Alert device operation © Ministry of the Interior

Should I download an application or update my smartphone?

There is no need to download mobile app or register in advance with a platform to receive alerts. But if you hold a Iphone (Apple), you have to launch the news “carrier settings update to receive notifications. Holders of an Android phone will have no steps to take.

What should I do if I receive an alert notification?

If you receive an alert notification by the end of June 2022 : this dispatch takes place within the framework of civil security or public security exercises. They constitute one of final testing steps before the national deployment of the FR-ALERT system. “Receipt of this notification does not call no action on the part of the population, nor any safety behavior to respect“says the Ministry of the Interior.

► After: the alert notification includes instructions and advice on safety actions to protect against this danger (sheltering, evacuation, etc.). A link to an official website for additional information can be sent. Upon receipt of the alert, it is therefore advisable to take note of all of this information and to implement the actions and behaviors indicated in order to protect yourself and reduce the risks of exposure to danger.

Will the government have access to my personal data?

“The State and its population alert system FR-Alert do not have access to the geolocation of mobile phones since this technology is based on sending the alert via the relay antennas of telephone operators.“reassures the Ministry of the Interior.

Does Fr-Alert replace existing alert systems?

“This tool is complementary to existing alert systems (more than 2,000 sirens connected to remote triggering software, the activation of TV and radio media to broadcast alert and information messages on their antennas as well as the mobilization of institutional accounts on social networks, etc.) and constitutes an appropriate response to a wide scope of risks and threats“underlines the Ministry of the Interior.

Source : Experimentation of the FR-Alert system before its national deployment, April 22, 2022, Ministry of the Interior


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