Fighting security issues: a technological priority for Paris

This is the path envisioned by Mounir Mahjoubi, the former Secretary of State in Charge of Digital for municipal elections. His war horse: security. He also proposes putting agents in each district in order to ensure peace for residents.


Drones, defense and security issues

Mounir Mahjoubi wishes, in fact, and in his own words, to implement continuous surveillance by drone in Paris. Let’s say “zero tolerance, let nothing pass, apply the broken tile theory: as soon as something happens, intervene”.

The drones would be equipped with security cameras. Quicker than onsite officers or vehicular patrols, drones deployed as such would be able to get to things much quicker.


Toward a squadron of police drones in Paris

240: It’s a number that could make more than one person turn pale! However, this amount is far from being random; it corresponds to the number of Parisian districts, with one drone per district.

We’re not talking about self-flying drones; these would be piloted from a distance by specially trained agents. This technique has already been tested by the military. It has created a following in the ranks of the administration to the point of seducing young candidates at the local level.

What’s more, there is no question of allowing the drones to fly over the capitol. However, these are not response drones but are, in fact, intelligent drones. And this poses a problem for the population. People are still reluctant to introduce technology into the private sphere and are not inclined to accept it.


In case of emergency, press the button

Connected to these electronic devices would be 20,000 call buttons around the city, which could also be distributed to the most vulnerable populations.

These devices have the advantage of being accessible and not having to depend on smartphone constraints (no network, low battery, etc…). The goal is to be able to call the police as quickly as possible.

It remains to be seen how this new type of emergency call will be sent. Voice calls remain a priority, but these systems, which are kept in plain sight, could be used for malicious purposes or even worse, diverted from their main function.


What about legislation regarding flying over Paris?

Clearly, this plan conflicts with regulations regarding airspace over Paris. Indeed, it’s a known fact that no aircraft is allowed to fly over Paris. The Law of January 20, 1948 authorizes fly overs in only two cases:

  • Specific airplanes (air force, long haul flights)
  • Extraordinary situations (visits from heads of state, July 14, etc.).

Mounir Mahjoubi would like to see police drones added to these exceptions. Of course, for him it’s not a question of allowing drones to monitor on a constant basis, but to send them in response to emergency calls.

This is to avoid the problems of noise pollution for residents and visual pollution for tourists. Additionally, the risk of drones falling from the sky remains rather high, and this is all the more true when they’re covering long distances in semi-autonomy.


Today, the law prohibits the use of drones in the capitol except for extraordinary reasons, such as the fire at Notre Dame de Paris on April 15.

However, Mounir Mahjoubi is basing this on its current use by the police. He said he’s ready to ask the relevant authorities to extend the law to the use of his police drones.

We can only hope this security initiative doesn’t end up being used to spy on citizens. If Shakespeare said that “security is mortals’ chiefest enemy”, technology tends to help.


To read: Are drones something to be afraid of?