France terror alert app took about 3 hours to respond to Nice attack

Last Updated: 15 July, 2016
France terror alert app

The French government has released a terror alert app, called SAIP (Système d’alerte et d’information des populations) last month has been in the mouth of criticism after taking hours to notify users of Thursday night’s attack in Nice. The app was released on Android and iOS by French Interior Ministry in June, ahead of Euro 2016 soccer tournament.

At the time of releasing the app, the ministry said that the app will alert users within 15 minutes of a confirmed terrorist attack. Contradictory, the app took much longer to push out alerts after the last night’s Nice attack, where a man drove a truck into a crowded seaside promenade during Bastille Day celebrations, killing at least 84 people and leaving 18 others in critical condition.

The app took nearly three hours to send out alerts. The users who have already downloaded the app, posted phone screenshots on Twitter showing that the app sent out its alert at 1:30 AM local time. Apparently, Facebook activated Safety Check Tool immediately following the attack.

It is not yet clear what caused the delay, though experts had warned that the app may struggle if cellular networks are congested following an attack. In an interview with the newspaper Libération following the release of SAIP, Gaël Musquet, “hacker in residence” at the public digital agency La Fonderie, said that the app could face problems because it relies on “vulnerable” 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi networks. “When there are too many phones in a certain area and not enough channels available to route all calls, cell towers are saturated and they cannot respond,” Musquet told the paper.

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