The FR-Alert system is deployed on the iPhone

If you’re an iPhone user, you might have received a “carrier settings update” in the past few days. Independent of new versions of iOS, this update brings support for the FR-Alert device. Already present in other countries, this system allows the French authorities to send geolocated alerts by SMS in the event of danger or a particular emergency in a given region. SMS alerts are automatically identified by iOS and take the form of an urgent notification, which is displayed even if the screen is locked.

You can find all the details at the website of the Ministry of the Interior, which specifies that emergency alerts will be able to transmit information on: the nature of the risk (a fire, a flood, an industrial accident, etc.), the authority issuing the alert, the location of the danger (establishment, district, municipality, agglomeration, department…), the attitude to adopt (stay at home, evacuate the area…), and if necessary a link to obtain additional information on an official website. The Ministry also communicates a few examples of major events that may justify sending a geolocated alert:

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

FR-Alert works with two different technologies: cell broadcasting (Cell Broadcast) by telecommunications antennas, and location-based SMS (LB-SMS or Location-Based SMS) which will be deployed later.

Description FR-ALERT

The FR-Alert system is currently at the experimental stage but the final deployment is planned for very soon, from the end of June. There will be full-scale tests in the coming weeks, hence this early update of the operator settings on iOS. There is no need to download an app or activate a setting to receive alerts from FR-Alert, which are automatically activated. There are still settings to allow the deactivation of certain types of alerts (in particular exercises) and they are in Settings > Notifications, at the very bottom. Strangely, these settings have not yet been translated into French.

If you haven’t been offered this carrier settings update yet, you can trigger a manual search for this new version by going to Settings > General > About.

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