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Panic Attack! Mobile terrorist alert service

Reasons to be Fearful

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It's something we've all pondered: when the terrorist attack comes, how can I keep one step ahead? Well, worry no more thanks to the new UK Alert mobile phone system.

Yes, UK Alert.co.uk promises to send warning of any impending strike direct to your mobile phone, giving you time to run around in blind panic while others continue to live their short lives in blissful ignorance. Better still, the service is completely free.

Of course, it is not entirely altruistic. Owner, Scott Brown from High Wycombe, asks only that you register your mobile number with him, for which you'll be charged £1.50. After that, it's completely free.

And if you were worried about the quality of alerts you might receive, look no further than the "sample alert" which warns "Hijacked airliner heading to London. Estimate 26 mins. Please evacuate within M25". Ignoring the fact that 26 minutes is probably just about enough time to get down a Tube station as long as it's not rush hour, we are however not convinced that UK Alert's response speed is good enough to justify the up-front fee.

For example, you would think that 48 hours was sufficient for the service's owners to reply to a few questions (sample question: "What does your monitoring of all terrorist warnings comprise exactly?"). Sadly not. It seems this service only exists in the medium of mobile phones.

Although we'll be darned if we can find a contact number for the company which promises that "24hrs per day our team is ready to send out an alert to you with instructions if publicly issued by HM Gov". But who are we to argue, when the site points out, quite reasonably, "If the Stock Market starts to crash due to a terror attack you need to know right away. Be Alert. UK Alert", followed by a copyright symbol. (Shouldn't that be a trademark symbol?)

However, we were relieved to see that UK Alert's satellite system is operational and that its "sweep" of Iraq and North Korea had revealed no new alerts. Phew! For such a dynamic system though the satellite tracking interface looks suspiciously static. In fact, it looks just like a simple image file.

No matter. The site is supported by Bloomberg, not to mention all the UK's main mobile phone companies, so it must be kosher. At least that is what we infer, and their lawyers certainly will, from the addition of their logos on the site.

So sign up straight away. Think of it as a terror placebo. ®

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