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France launches terror alert app ahead of Euro 2016 tournament

Announcement comes amid heightened security concerns for major soccer tournament

Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

The French government has launched a smartphone app that would alert users to possible terror attacks and provide them with information on how to stay safe. The French Interior Ministry announced the app on Wednesday ahead of the UEFA Euro 2016 soccer tournament, which kicks off on Friday outside Paris. Officials in France and other countries have warned that the tournament may be a target for terrorist attacks.

The app, called SAIP (Système d'alerte et d'information des populations), was developed as part of a pilot project following the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, according to the AFP. It will use geolocation to deliver information tailored to each user's location, with alerts appearing less than 15 minutes after an incident is confirmed. Users will also be able to view alerts for up to eight different geographical areas, in case they want to check up on friends or family during an attack, and can share alerts directly to social media. The app will be available in French and English, and will be free to download on iOS and Android.

french terror app

The hope is that the app will help facilitate the spread of reliable information on social media during an attack, while lightening the burden on France's emergency telephone lines. Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve tells the AFP that the app will "keep the public up to date with what we know."

The launch of the app comes one day after the UK's Home Office issued an alert warning of a "high threat from terrorism" at the Euros. The US State Department issued a travel warning for all of Europe late last month. Nearly 100,000 French security officials will be deployed to secure stadiums, fan zones, and other areas during the tournament, which will feature 51 games played at 10 different venues. This week, the French government published an English-language guide on how to protect oneself during a terror attack.

Security forces will also be using technology capable of intercepting and commandeering any drones that fly in restricted areas, The Associated Press reported last month, while police in Paris have been looking to acquire drones to carry out crowd surveillance.