Future Tense

France Releases App Meant to Warn About Terrorist Attacks

The SAIP (Systeme d’Alerte et d’Information aux populations, or Population Alert and Information System) app on Wednesday indicating that there are no current incidents.

Damien Meyer/AFP/Getty Images

Amid fears about the threat of terrorism, the French government released a mobile app Wednesday for sending alerts and information in the event of a terror attack. The Systeme d’Alerte et d’Information aux populations (Population Alert and Information System), also known as SAIP, was released ahead of the Euro 2016 soccer championships, which begin on Friday.

The French government developed the app in response to terror attacks in Paris last November. The app tracks users’ locations so it can send relevant updates for their immediate surroundings. Users can also set up alerts to stay updated on what’s going on in eight different postal codes. (Offiicials claim that data collected on the app is private and secure.) In an emergency the app will offer safety directions and information about what’s going on.

SAIP is free to download for Android and iOS devices and offers French and English language options. The Agence France-Presse reports that the app will start sending alerts within 15 minutes of the government confirming an incident. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said during a press conference that the goal of the app is to “keep the public up to date with what we know.”

The app is an interesting experiment given that much of its functions have previously been left to private social media apps like Facebook. Of course, the success of the app will depend on adoption—it won’t help people get information if no one downloads it. But the French government hopes that those who do have the app would help spread information to those who don’t in an emergency. Still, some features that Google and Facebook have been offering periodically, like a way to indicate that individuals are safe, aren’t part of SAIP so far.

Unfortunately, officials are on high alert about the potential for terrorist attacks during Euro 2016 events, which span 10 cities and 51 games. Hopefully the app will go untested.