Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Do you have a question about registration, the emergency call sequence, the app’s functions, your data or the technical prerequisites? 

You can find the most frequently asked questions about nora and their answer here.

If you can’t find your question here or the answer does not help you, please contact our Support.

General

The app can be downloaded and installed free of charge from the Google Play Store (for Android) or the Apple App Store (for iOS).

Whenever you or others find themselves in an emergency or a dangerous situation and need prompt assistance from the police, fire brigade or rescue service. 

Please note that sending an emergency call where no emergency exists is a violation of the nora terms of use. Repeated violations of the terms of use can lead to your access being blocked, and, in the case of proven abuse, to criminal proceedings. 

Intentionally or knowingly reporting a false emergency or dangerous situation is deemed abuse.

Anywhere in Germany.

Yes, of course. The voice emergency numbers 110 for police and 112 for fire and rescue services remain functional. 

If you are having problems registering or sending an emergency request using the app and need fast assistance, please call 110 or 112 instead if possible.

If you are a user of TESS Relay services use those for your emergency call.

Yes. You can still send an emergency fax to 110 or 112.

The emergency app nora is an additional way to reach police, fire brigade and rescue services without a voice call. All other contact channels remain available.

nora is the official emergency call system of the German federal states. This app lets you contact the official emergency control centres of police and fire and rescue services throughout Germany.

The Business and Coordination Office Emergency App System, a department within the Ministry of the Interior of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, handles all matters relating to the emergency call app for all federal states.

Technical concept and implementation as well as user support is provided by bevuta IT GmbH, based in Cologne.

Installation and registration

Whether via phone or app: the emergency control centres respond to every emergency call. So as not to delay or impair the handling of real emergencies unnecessarily, we need to prevent the app from being used when no direct emergency exists as much as possible. 

Thus, the registration process includes a verification of your telephone number. This enables us to track intentional violations of the nora terms of use using the telephone number.

During registration, the app records your phone number and your name and transfers this data to the emergency servers. For more information on how data is processed and stored, see the data protection FAQ.

Yes. You can install the emergency call app on your smartphone and on a tablet, for example, and use the same mobile number for both. 

Please note: The emergency call app can run on all standard Android tablets and iPads. However, there is no separate tablet version, and the app is not optimised for tablet use. 

Remember that when registering, you need to be able to access the device to which we send the SMS with the confirmation code.

You can change your mobile number using the “Personal information” option in the menu (☰) on the start screen. Please note that you will need to confirm your new phone number by entering a new SMS code.

First, check whether you have entered the correct mobile phone number. If so, request the SMS again.

If you still don’t receive the SMS, please contact Support

If you are in an emergency situation, please call the emergency number 110 (police) or 112 (fire and rescue services) if possible to receive prompt assistance.

If you are a user of TESS Relay services, use those for your emergency call.

Scope of function

Just like the emergency numbers 110 and 112, the emergency call app connects you directly with the emergency control centres of the police and fire and rescue services. 

This means you can use it for example if:  

  • You or others need rapid medical assistance. 
  • You or others are in a dangerous situation in which you need police support (break-in, robbery, acts of violence, use of firearms, other emergency situations)
    A (traffic) accident has occurred
  • A fire has broken out 
  • Severe weather has created a dangerous situation (flooding, fallen trees or similar)
  • There has been a lightning strike, power failure or explosion
  • You suspect a gas emergency or
  • You see people in trouble.

The app is currently available in German and English. 

All texts are as short as possible and written so as to be easily and quickly understandable. Additional pictograms also make the app easier to understand.

The chat lets you communicate directly with the emergency control centre operators. You should text in German if possible, as otherwise we cannot guarantee that they will understand your message. 

If you don’t write anything in the chat, or use a language the operators cannot communicate in, they will still send help, based on the information transmitted with your emergency call.

During registration you enter your name and telephone number. 

Additionally, the “Personal information” option in the menu (☰) on the start screen lets you optionally enter your date of birth, gender and information on pre-existing medical conditions or disabilities. As this is sensitive health data, we explicitly ask you in each case for your consent to storage of this data as well as its processing and transmission to the rescue service, fire brigade and police in the event of an emergency call.    

Under “Miscellaneous”, you can also enter 

  • Whether or not an emergency key exists (e.g. with a neighbour or family member) and/or 
  • Whether you have a dog and/or
  • Whether you are quarantined or have a chronic infectious disease.

This optional information could be helpful for the local responders.

In the emergency call itself, you can enter the emergency location (if this is not the same as the location of your mobile phone) as well as information on the nature of the emergency. 

You can change all information stored in the app before sending an emergency call.

The emergency control centres only receive the information they need for the specific emergency. 

Using the chat function that opens after you send the emergency call, you can additionally inform the emergency control centre of further specific circumstances.

Android phones 5.0 and higher, as well as iOS devices, have an integrated SOS function. Depending on your device and iOS version, this function works slightly differently.

SOS functions always start a voice telephone call. It is not possible to send emergency calls to the emergency control centre using the SOS function of your mobile device without making a phone call.

Using the emergency call app, your mobile device can independently send emergency messages and contact the emergency control centre directly, without you having to speak on the phone.

No. In iOS devices iPhone 7 and above, you can enter emergency contacts using Device Settings Emergency Contacts and have them notified automatically using the internal SOS function.

The emergency call app nora does not access information entered via Device Settings.

No. When it comes to emergency calls, safety, reliability and speed are key. Sending larger quantities of data during an emergency call can degrade communication if the internet connection is not stable. Additionally, photos of dangerous situations or emergency victims raise numerous ethical and legal issues.

In future, the emergency call app system will be enhanced and expanded beyond the current solution. It is possible that a future version of the app will allow you to send photos and/or videos to the emergency control centres.

The emergency call app provides a demo mode that lets you try out the sequence of an app emergency call from start to finish. After installation and registration, you can find the demo mode in the menu (☰) on the start screen.

In demo mode, everything works exactly as in a real emergency call, except that upon sending the emergency call, no emergency control centre is notified. 

The red banner at the bottom of your screen indicates that you are in demo mode.

Outside of demo mode, please use the app emergency call only for real emergencies.

Using the app

Once registration is complete, you will see a menu icon (☰) at the top left of the app start screen, which offers additional menu options. One of these options is “Demo emergency call”. Select this option to start the app’s demo mode.

Almost. In demo mode the app does not send any emergency calls to the control centres. Its only purpose is for you to try out the functioning of the app. When making a demo emergency call, two details will be different from the "real" emergency call:

1. Location determination

If you have not yet, in your device settings, allowed nora to use the location function of your device, the demo mode jumps directly to manual entry of the address without first displaying the automatically determined location. To prevent this, you can allow location determination directly after registering your mobile number.

Even with this permission, nora only determines your device location when you open the app.

2. Chat messages

Also different in demo mode (and not depending on your device settings) is the display of the message status in the chat with the control centre. 

After sending your demo emergency call, you can write and send messages in the chat. Since in demo mode the emergency call is only simulated, however, no contact is established with a real control centre. Therefore, in demo mode, your messages will not be read and you will not receive any replies. That is why there will never be more than one tick ("✓ Sent") below each of your chat messages.

In a real emergency call, the following symbols and explanatory texts below your messages show you the status of each message:

◌ Sending
The message is being sent.

✓ Sent
The message has been sent from your device.

✓✓ Transmitted
The message has been transmitted to the control centre.

✓✓✓ Read
The message has been read at the control centre.

The app uses the GPS function of your mobile device to find the device location. If this location is not correct, you have two possibilities:

  • Move the blue pin on the map. To do this, just press your finger on the actual emergency location on the map. The pin appears at the new location and you can confirm the changed location by tapping the button “Yes, this is the emergency location”. 
  • Enter the emergency address manually. To do this, select the option “Enter emergency address” and enter the street name and number and city or postal code in the following page. We will determine corresponding addresses in the address database and display them in a selection field. Tap the correct address entry to confirm.

In principle, nora is available day and night, everywhere in Germany. It is possible, however, that individual areas are temporarily not covered.

Once nora knows your location, the emergency call app system determines the locally responsible control centre(s) and their availability.

If the control centre responsible for your emergency is not available, you will receive a message that an emergency call via the app is currently not possible.

In such cases, please use the emergency numbers 110 (for the police) or 112 (for the fire and rescue service). If you are a user of TESS Relay services, please use these services.

If the map with your location is not displayed, you can also enter the address of your emergency location manually.

To do this, select the option “Enter emergency address” beneath the map and enter the street name and number and city or postal code in the following page. We will determine possible address matches in the address database and display them in a selection field. Tap the correct address entry to confirm.

You can also use the manual address entry if the location determined using your mobile device is not correct.

First, select the address closest to the actual emergency location (for instance an address next door). After you send the emergency call, a chat opens. Use this to directly inform the emergency control centre of the correct address of the emergency location.

The silent emergency call is intended for situations in which you want to call for help without calling attention to yourself. For instance, if you observe an act of violence, robbery or other dangerous situation. Or when you feel threatened and need police support.

We only offer the silent emergency call option when the emergency details you enter indicate that such a danger situation might exist.

If you indicate that you want your emergency call to be handled as a silent emergency call, that mainly changes the following: 

  • The emergency control centre will only communicate silently via chat. Even if you could theoretically talk on the phone, the emergency control centre will not attempt to call you back with follow-up questions. 
  • The app will not send any further messages regarding the emergency to your mobile device that could trigger acoustic signals or vibrations. 

To ensure that your mobile device does not issue any acoustic signals (for instance from other apps), it may still be a good idea to switch your device to “silent” in such a situation.

No. Firstly, you could receive acoustic signals from other apps during the emergency.

In a silent emergency call, the emergency call function does not send any messages. However, it is theoretically possible (although unlikely) that functions of the app that do not relate to the emergency call itself also send messages during a silent emergency call. Depending on how your mobile device is configured, this can also result in acoustic signals. 

If you do not wish to draw attention, we recommend that you set your mobile device to silent to ensure that you do not receive any unwanted acoustic notifications. This also prevents acoustic notifications of other apps.

Yes. Once the emergency call is sent, the app opens a chat window that lets you exchange messages directly with an emergency control centre operator. 

If you like, you can ask the operator via chat to call you back at the stored phone number for follow-up questions.

In the chat with the control centre, symbols and explanatory texts below your messages show you the status of each message:

◌ Sending
The message is being sent.

✓ Sent
The message has been sent from your device.

✓✓ Transmitted
The message has been transmitted to the control centre.

✓✓✓ Read
The message has been read at the control centre.

Yes. In an emergency call via the app, the normal communication channel is the text-based chat that opens when the emergency notification is sent. However, if the control centre operator believes that a direct discussion would be helpful – for instance to resolve complicated questions in direct dialogue – the operator may call you at the stored telephone number. 

If you specified when registering your phone number (or later in your personal settings) that you cannot speak on the phone, the emergency control centre will of course not try to call you, but will instead resolve all questions via the chat.

The emergency control centre also will not call you during a silent emergency call.

Yes. As long as the emergency call is in progress, reopening the app automatically restores the chat with the emergency control centre.

However, we urge you to keep the app open until the emergency call is resolved. In this way, you can be sure that you can see all messages from the emergency control centre and answer any follow-up questions promptly.

Yes. In the chat view, press “Home” (house icon at top left) to return to the app’s start screen, where you can initiate a new emergency call.

Please only start a new emergency call to report a different emergency.

The option “All emergency calls” in the menu (☰) in the app start screen contains a list of all active and resolved emergency calls.

Yes. If you see an emergency or a dangerous situation, or another person asks you for help, you can also use the app to call for help for that other person.

However, please note that you may need to change the emergency location if the person is at a different location.

Technology

The emergency app can be used on smartphones with the following operating systems:

  • Android 5.0 or later
  • iOS 12 (minimum iPhone 5S / SE) or later

Yes. Determining the location of your mobile device is a key function of the emergency call app. This ensures that the responders can reach your location rapidly. That’s why the location function must be activated before you send an emergency call. 

In some cases, geolocation accuracy improves after a short time. That is why we ask you to authorise the geolocation function immediately when you open the app, to gain as much time as possible to determine the correct emergency location. 

If you do not open the app in an emergency situation, but instead to enter personal data or access earlier emergency calls, for instance, you can initially decline the location prompt. We will prompt for this again once you start an emergency call. 

If the location cannot be determined for technical reasons, you can enter the emergency location manually.

Yes. There is no separate tablet version for the app. However, the phone apps can also run on Android tablets and iPads.

Violations of the terms of service and blocking

You receive this warning when your mobile device was used to send multiple emergency calls for matters that were not an emergency.

If you think that you received this warning in error, please contact Support

If you deliberately used the app when an emergency did not exist: Refrain from doing so in the future. This is the only way you can be sure that you will still be able to use the app and receive timely assistance in the event of an emergency.

Your app is blocked when your mobile device was used to send multiple emergency calls for matters that were not an emergency. In this case, you will have been warned before you are blocked.

If you think that you were blocked in error, please contact Support.

If the emergency call is still active, use the chat function to inform the emergency control centre operator that you sent the emergency call by mistake, and that no emergency exists.

If the emergency call has already been closed, you don’t need to do anything else. Take precautions to make sure that you do not send any more emergency calls by mistake in future (for instance because small children accessed your phone unsupervised). 

As long as such incidents don’t recur, nothing will happen and you can continue to use the app to send real emergency calls. 

If we receive repeated emergency calls that violate the terms of use of the nora emergency call app, we will send you a warning before we actually block the app for emergency calls. 

If you are afraid that numerous accidental emergency calls have already been sent, please contact Support.

It is always a good idea to protect your phone against unauthorised use (PIN, password, fingerprint or similar). If your phone is protected against unauthorised use, you do not need to do anything further with regard to the emergency call app if your phone is stolen. If you’re worried that your device will be used for emergency calls without your authorisation, please contact Support and specify the telephone number used to register the emergency call app.

Data and data protection

The information as to the nature of the emergency entered during the emergency call, chat messages with the emergency control centre and other data generated in connection with the emergency call (location information, metadata as well as date and time) are stored on the dedicated emergency call servers for a few days. These are located in data centres with high security standards. All data is both transmitted and stored in encrypted form.

All optional personal information that you enter in the app (date of birth, gender, pre-existing conditions, disabilities, other information) is initially only stored locally on your mobile device. When you send an emergency call, we only pass on the information to the emergency control centre that is necessary for the specific case.

Thus, medical data on pre-existing conditions is only transmitted to the responders for medical emergencies that affect you personally – and not when you report a fire or request police support.

The emergency control centres archive all emergency call data once the emergency call is resolved. This archiving is governed by the laws of the individual federal states.

Your emergency call data is just displayed to the emergency control centre operators who handle your call. They then transmit your data to the responders of police, fire brigade and/or rescue services as necessary.

All personal emergency call data is automatically deleted from the server a few days after the emergency call. This time is needed so that the emergency control centres can meet their documentation and archiving obligations. Only pseudonymised metadata is retained, which is deleted after ten years.

Deletion of data archived by the emergency control centres is governed by the laws of the individual federal states.

The data recorded during registration (name and phone number) is only deleted when you revoke your consent to the terms of service and delete your registration from the emergency call app.

All optional personal information that you enter in the app (date of birth, gender, pre-existing conditions, disabilities, other information) is initially only stored locally on your mobile device. 

When you send an emergency call, we only pass on the information that is necessary for the specific case.

Thus, medical data on pre-existing conditions is only transmitted to the responders for medical emergencies that affect you personally.

Personal information

You must enter your name during registration so that your app installation can be linked to your name. This makes it possible for instance to prevent or track violations of the terms of use.

When sending an emergency call, you can decide whether or not your name should be transmitted to the emergency control centres and responders depending on the individual situation. For instance, you can report observing an act of violence without disclosing your name.

In the summary of your emergency call, below your name, you can choose the option “Transmit name”. If you do not wish to include your name in the call, open this option using the pencil icon. If you choose “no”, your name will not be transmitted to the emergency control centre.

Please note that in many cases, it is very important for the emergency control centre and emergency responders to know your name, for instance when they need to find the right apartment in an apartment building.

Providing your age can help the responders to better prepare themselves for your specific situation. 

Like all personal and medical information in the app, this is optional. If you do not wish to enter this information, simply select “Not specified”.

In medical emergencies, information on the affected person’s gender can be helpful for the responders. 

People who do not identify as either male or female can select the option “Non-binary” here. 

Like all personal and medical information in the app, this is optional. If you do not wish to enter this information, simply select “Not specified”.

Information on disabilities can help the responders to better prepare themselves for your specific situation.

Like all personal and medical information in the app, this is optional. If you do not wish to enter this information, simply select “Not specified”.

Information on health conditions can help the responders to better prepare themselves for your specific situation.

Like all personal and medical information in the app, this is optional. If you do not wish to enter this information, simply select “Not specified”.

The main goal of the nora emergency call app is to send you the assistance you need from the police, fire brigade or rescue service as quickly as possible.

To achieve this, it is crucial that only as much information as necessary is retrieved and sent with the emergency call. 

There are many different health conditions, and not all of them are decisive for sending the right help through the control centres.

The data prompted in the personal information section is therefore limited to such information that, in the experience of the control centres, has proven to be particularly important in the assessment of an emergency.

If you would like to inform the control centres of any other health conditions, you can do so using the chat function after sending the emergency call.

The control centre operator will also ask you in the chat in case he or she needs more detailed information about your health condition or has other questions.

The main goal of the nora emergency call app is to send you the assistance you need from the police, fire brigade or rescue service as quickly as possible.

To achieve this, it is crucial that only as much information as necessary is retrieved and sent with the emergency call. The data prompted in the personal information section is therefore limited to such information that, in the experience of the control centres, has proven to be particularly important in the assessment of an emergency.

In general, information about medication you are taking is not crucial for the control centres in order to send the right help.

If you would like to provide the control centres with additional information about current or regular medication, you can do so using the chat function after sending the emergency call.

The control centre operator will also ask you in the chat in case he or she needs more detailed information on your medication or has other questions.

Other questions

Directly connecting to the emergency control centres and preventing false alarms are criteria that place extremely specific requirements on the technical and organisational infrastructure of the emergency call app system. Additionally, the critical nature of the data means that high data protection standards apply.

An expansion of the emergency call app and interfaces to third-party systems are both planned for the future. It may then be possible to link to other, related services that might connect with other apps. 

Due to the very specific technical and organisational infrastructure requirements for the emergency call app system, as well as for reasons of data protection and data security, all associated issues must first be resolved before such systems can be linked. Currently, it is not possible to specify a timeframe in which the system will integrate third-party services.

The main purpose of warning apps like NINA and KatWarn is to inform the population. As a complement to sirens and radio alerts, these apps warn of dangerous situations covering a wider area (for instance thunderstorms and major fires).

The emergency call app creates a new communication channel for contacting police, fire brigade and rescue service in a dangerous situation. It is equivalent to the emergency numbers 110 and 112.

In an emergency, every second counts. When that happens, users must be able to use the emergency call function as quickly as possible, without having to page through multiple functions of a multi-purpose app. 

Additionally, a clear separation makes both the technical development and the structural organisation of the emergency call app system easier.

Finally, users can decide which functionalities they want – and don’t want.