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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

  14 Jan 2020

14 Jan 2020

Review status
A revised version of this preprint is currently under review for the journal NHESS.

Why keep alert sirens in France?

Johnny Douvinet1, Anna Serra-Llobet2, Mathias Kondolf3, Esteban Bopp1, and Mathieu Péroche4 Johnny Douvinet et al.
  • 1UMR ESPACE 7300 CNRS, Avignon University, Avignon, F-84000, FRANCE
  • 2Institute of International Studies, University of California Berkeley, 94701, USA
  • 3Department of Landscape Architecture & Environmental Planning, University of California Berkeley, USA
  • 4UMR GRED, University of Montpellier Paul-Valéry III, Montpellier, F-34000, FRANCE

Abstract. This paper discusses the usefulness of keeping sirens to alert in an emergency situation likely to harm the physical integrity of property or the population in France. Sirens are the main pillars of the National Alert Network (NAN) deployed from 1954 to 2010, and these tools remain the basis of the future Population Alerting and Information System (SAIP) planned for 2022. Sirens are intended to interrupt social activities, and to induce adequate behavior from the authorities and the population potentially endangered. But this ongoing priority raises questions: sirens present technical drawbacks; they have rarely been used (only two times in 60 years); the authorities minimize the potential of connected tools like social media, Cell Broadcast (CBC) Geo-localized Short Message Services, or Smartphone applications. Analyzing the changes observed in our literature review and the lessons learned from two other countries, Belgium and the USA, we conclude that the integration of sirens in a multi-channel platform and the use of the Common Alerting Protocol (CAP) should sublimate the meaning of siren signals, if the authorities really want to make sirens part of an effective solution to alert people in France.

Johnny Douvinet et al.

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Johnny Douvinet et al.

Johnny Douvinet et al.


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Latest update: 27 Nov 2020
Publications Copernicus
Short summary
This study aims at underlying reasons and factors explaining why sirens are the primary alerting tools available in France, and why successive governments have maintained their trust in these tools since the end of World War II, despite their well-known limitations (32 % of the residents covered in a radius of 1 km, no-sense for people, slowness in the validation process). Analysing the changes observed in Belgium and USA stresses the need for a multi-channel platform and a common protocol (CAP).
This study aims at underlying reasons and factors explaining why sirens are the primary alerting...