The system will be based on two “proven” technologies, on the one hand that of “cell broadcasting”, and on the other hand geolocated SMS.
Used together, these “will allow the massive and rapid sending of priority messages over traditional communication methods,” according to a government report. In this way, it will be “possible to inform the population, in real time, of the actions to be taken”.
The device should be deployed “by the second half of 2021 in priority areas with a large population or at particular risk”, then throughout the country by June 2022.
The French Senate has been recommending the creation of such a system since 2010. Some other European countries already use a similar platform, notably the Netherlands, which has had one in place since 2012, and non-European countries such as Japan and the States -United.
The EU urges member states to introduce their own systems by June 2022.
In its report, the French government said: “The Interior Minister’s teams have already started working with mobile operators.”
France has already set up some sort of emergency alert system – a network of more than 2,000 sirens that must go off when an incident occurs. But ministers saw the existing technology as outdated and inefficient.
The announcement of the new warning system comes nearly a year after the 2019 Lubrizol factory explosion in Rouen, Normandy, which saw a huge black cloud erupt over the city after nearly 10,000 tons of dangerous chemicals accidentally ignited.
(Photo: Le Parisien / @the Parisian / Twitter)
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The factory was classified as a “Seveso” site, which means that it was a high risk and high security site containing many dangerous chemicals.
Mr. Darmanin was speaking at a press conference to honor and remember the incident, alongside the Minister of Ecology, Barbara Pompili.
Ms. Pompili said that in addition to the new alert system, the government would increase the number of inspections of hazardous and Seveso-classified industrial chemical storage facilities by 50% within five years. Yet she has not confirmed the 50 new inspector positions first announced by her ministry in June.
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