An app launched last month by the French authorities to alert users to attacks failed to flash a warning until more than three hours after a truck rammed into crowds in the Riviera city of Nice, the interior ministry said, after several people took to social media to complain about the failure.
The app, called SAIP (Système d’alerte et d’information des populations), was launched by the interior ministry just before the Euro 2016 soccer championship and was supposed to flash a warning on a user’s mobile phone screen if there was an attack close to their location or suspicion of an imminent strike.
The app is also intended to give accurate information about the incident and how civilians should respond.
The app did not send its first notification until 0134 am local time, more than three hours after the 31-year Tunisian drove down the Promenade des Anglais seaside boulevard on Bastille Day, killing 84 people and injuring scores more.
“Information related to the attack in Nice on July 14 was sent out much too late by the SAIP app,” the interior ministry said in a statement, adding that the app’s designers had been summoned to a crisis meeting on Friday afternoon.
“An action plan has been demanded without delay so that such an incident cannot happen again,” the ministry said.
The message prepared by the local prefecture was ready to go at about 23:15, but a technical glitch prevented the app designed by French company Deveryware to send out the warning, Les Echos newspaper said, citing government sources.
Deveryware did not immediately return a request for comment.
One Nice-based Twitter user called Nathan Lellouche, who posted a picture of the app showing a “no incident ongoing” message the night of the attack, tweeted: “This app had one job and it doesn’t even do it.”
“Complete silence on the App launched by the French government to alert in the event of terrorism. Appalling,” said Josh McStay, another Twitter user.
Many people turned to Facebook’s Safety Check feature, which lets users “check in” to let friends and family know they are safe.