Klaus vom Hofe


Emergency app: Deutsche Telekom patent for millions

With the "nora" app, even the hearing and speech impaired can send an emergency call to the nearest fire brigade, rescue service or police department nationwide. The patented idea comes from Deutsche Telekom.

The "European patent specification" on paper, on it a smartphone with the emergency call app opened.

nora" - the official emergency call app of the federal states. Here with the associated European patent certificate.

With nora, an emergency call can be made without speaking in emergency situations. Included: Information such as personal data, the location and the nature of the emergency. This can be vital not only for the hearing and speech impaired. Anyone who witnesses a crime, for example, can call for help silently and unnoticed.  

When NRW Minister of the Interior Herbert Reul presented nora as the official emergency call app of the federal states at a press conference at the end of September, Deutsche Telekom was delighted. Because behind the app is one of more than 8,600 individual patents held by the Group. Deutsche Telekom is one of the most patent-rich companies in the European telecommunications industry. And time and again, the employer calls on us employees to patent more ideas. This is made easy for us. All we have to do is present a new technical solution with a few comprehensible sentences and a sketch - experts in the company and patent attorneys take care of the rest. 

Patented solution from an employee 

But new alone is not enough. It is necessary to anticipate what people need. As is the case with nora, of which Deutsche Telekom is particularly proud. After all, it holds the patent on a central aspect of this solution. The patent was registered as such with foresight, even though there was no concrete development in the pipeline. 

Gerhard Kramarz - von Kohout

Inventor, security expert and former Deutsche Telekom employee: Gerhard Kramarz - von Kohout's idea ultimately led to "nora".

The person who was particularly pleased on the day of the press conference was the inventor and former colleague Gerhard Kramarz - von Kohout. For a long time, he was in charge of emergency calls for Deutsche Telekom and had already been involved in technology and security at earlier professional stations. Already 16 of his solutions have been patented, including the emergency call solution that has now been launched. His patent behind the nora app bears the number EP2804407B1. The rather technical title in words:

"Method and system for transmitting a text-based emergency call message by means of a mobile telecommunications terminal and a mobile telecommunications network, system, computer program and computer program product."

"In mobile communications, early on, services that were based on the locations of their users were under discussion. Only the solution of sending a text message with standardized emergency call information to a 'smart' server wasn't there," the inventor says. "It was clear to me that something like that was missing for the hearing and speech impaired." The server is critical here. It needs to know which fire or police control center is responsible and, importantly for transmission, which communication profile it is working with. The licensee of the patent is bevuta IT GmbH, based in Cologne. Its software developers created the nora app and the associated infrastructure, such as servers and software for the control centers.

With the app, discussions started again. Why aren't authority apps like the Corona warning app, Nina for disaster warnings and now nora combined into one app, practically like a Swiss army knife? As always, there are also cons to this, such as: Smaller, separate apps can each be developed as needed, independently and thus faster, without having to coordinate across different teams.      

Gerhard Kramarz - von Kohout has been retired for three years now. However, he continues to be involved in technology and security solutions - as a proven expert in public safety issues. I am pleased with him. Back in 2017, we talked about the emergency call topic for the blog, just after the patent application was successful. Now the continuation.

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