Nora app: emergency calls are digital and barrier-free – but starts with a breakdown


The well-known emergency numbers 112 and 110, which were previously accessible from landline and mobile networks, have lost their unique selling point. With a new nationwide standardized emergency call app (“Nora”), they are supplemented by a digital alternative, which at the same time provides a barrier-free alternative to making an emergency call via voice telephony.

Nora is free and should in principle be able to be downloaded from the respective app stores for iPhone and Android smartphones from now on. However, there are currently problems: “The interest in the Nora emergency call app is very great,” it says on the Project website. “In order to be able to cope with the high demand, work on the infrastructure for the emergency call system has become necessary.” Therefore, the application is currently not available through the app stores, “but only through our support”.

However, if you have already downloaded and installed the app, you should already be able to use it. According to the developers, Nora currently works in 15 federal states. In Berlin, “votes are still required before the app emergency call is also accepted there”.

When using the mobile application, according to the Federal Ministry of Economics (BMWi) – as with a traditional voice emergency call – the location of the person calling the emergency is automatically determined and transmitted to the locally responsible emergency call center together with the basic information about the incident. Further communication between the emergency call control center and the user then takes place in a text-based manner. This is comparable to using a standard messenger service.

Additional information about an emergency can be transmitted via chat in the Nora app.

(Image: State of North Rhine-Westphalia)

An “intuitive user guidance” with simple symbols and texts is promised. The app asks questions that are intended to help assess the risk situation. For example, it is about whether the police or the fire brigade should be alerted or whether people are injured. A distinction is made between a break-in and a fire. The emergency call goes out without this additional information. Users must provide their name and telephone number when registering. In a personal profile, they can also provide information on previous illnesses, for example.

The BMWi has funded the development of a prototype for such an app that is easy to use nationwide and its subsequent testing with selected control centers. The other ministries concerned, the federal states, representatives of the municipal umbrella organizations and other relevant organizations were closely involved. Leading the development was the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of the Interior. The technical conception and implementation as well as the user support are carried out by the Cologne company Bevuta IT. Until 2021, the cost of the project for NRW alone will be around 475,000 euros.

“Today, app-based applications are part of everyday life for many people”, explained Thomas Jarzombek, Commissioner for the digital economy and start-ups at BMWi, the motivation for developing the new offer. “The emergency call app is now finally opening up a modern, barrier-free emergency call.” People with limited listening and speaking skills can use it to communicate directly with the local control center without delay.

Due to a nationwide disruption in the Deutsche Telekom mobile network, the 112 and 110 were temporarily unavailable on Wednesday. With the Nora app, there is now basically another channel for emergency notifications. Police authorities of various federal states and cities want to tweet all incoming emergency calls on Friday. The campaign is intended to sensitize the population to the responsible use of the instrument.


To home page