The Dutch startup Homies works by establishing a network of family, friends, and neighbors who act as a neighborhood alert system to protect your home.

Need to protect your home? Your "Homies" have your back

For many, homeownership is a dream, for others a challenge, however, something that both groups will/can share is the need to protect their homes. Starting out, you may find yourself in a rougher part of town so that housing costs are lower while you gain your footing and hopefully move on to greener pastures.

This is at least the typical path of many families (for this article, I am ignoring the fact that us millennials may never own homes...yeah) but it comes with serious drawbacks.

For one, that cheaper neighborhood could end up costing you big. Households in low-income neighborhoods are 60% more likely to fall victim to home burglary or fire. As seen in recent news, low-income neighborhoods are more likely to consist of aging infrastructure which may not always be fire-safe. In addition, crime rates are linked to poverty and lack of economic opportunities so these statistics aren't surprising.

You may be thinking now about how your first home can be protected. The traditional solutions include expensive alarm systems which may be able to alert homeowners to burglary or fire but may not be affordable or reliable (remember, you have to remember to turn the alarm on each time and it has to be set up in such a way that the entire premises is covered). Without putting money down on an expensive alarm system, what can be done?

Introducing Homies

What exactly is Homies? We're not talking about your good friends...well we kind of are but not in the same way. The Dutch startup Homies works by establishing a network of family, friends, and neighbors who act as a neighborhood alert system to protect your home. It's a peer-to-peer alarm system platform that connects users through WhatsApp, which is already popular and installed on the devices of many potential customers.

Their system doesn't just rely on the eyes and ears of friends and family, they have an alarm system that uses various sensors to detect noise, air pressure and other factors. These factors all together help determine if someone is in your home and when the system is armed, the device is triggered by the presence of someone in your home and you get an alert on your app.

Their tailor-made home security system works using your WiFi and once an intruder is detected it sounds a siren. The alarm itself can be operated remotely using the Homies app and includes an infrared motion sensor, door contact sensor, and smoke generation recognition.

A user can also choose for a family member, friend or neighbor to be alerted in case of fire or burglary. They don't need to be a user of the app in order to be contacted meaning no additional installation or hassle is needed. Once you meet the neighbors in your new place of stay, you can join other alarm groups so you're notified when their alarm goes off.

Once someone in your network, who is nearby is notified of the alarm being set off, or once you are notified (if you are close to home), the authorities can be called if it's determined that there is a need for it. That way the police don't swarm the dog sitter you forgot was coming over to feed Fido.

How to Get Homies

Sound good so far? So how do you get your hands on Homies? To get the alarm system, a technician will come out to your home and install it. The only thing the homeowner needs for this installation is a wifi system, a smartphone, and WhatsApp. When the installation is complete, the homeowner can download the Homies app to view, operate and manage their alarm system remotely.

The alarm can be turned on or off and the house can be monitored, all from one app. The installation takes approximately an hours and after the technician is done, you're good to go. When you move house, you can also take the alarm system with you (just make sure to let your network know)!

Cost and Considerations

How much will Homies set you back? Homies are now available for €249 (approximately $307). That price includes installation by a technician, the alarm itself, alarm service and a 2-year warranty. This price is not only a fraction of what alarm systems typically cost but it also includes services for free that are generally charged extra.

The alarm service includes setting up your own alarm group in case the alarm goes off. This group will be alerted by WhatsApp message in a group chat. The Homies chatbot can guide all users using targetted messages to reach the appropriate resolution. If and when someone can come back and check on the situation, if everything is okay and it was a false alarm, the user can alert the group through the chat and the chat is subsequently closed.

A lot of us who are animal lovers and/or have pets may be anxious that Rex or Fido will set off the alarm, rest assured, pets 25kg (about 55 lbs) and under will not set off the alarm so people and large animals are the only ones detected.

Homies provides a safe and cheap option for home protection. In the end, your home is your castle. It's where you lay your head and lock away your worldly possessions, so why not protect it like a castle (I mean with an alarm system, not a moat...)?

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