Mutual exchange peers

✍️ Written on 2024-01-03 in 927 words.
Part of life

General problem

I was observing the current earthquake damages in Japan. Assume your house gets destroyed and you don’t have any belongings anymore. Would not it be great to have some backup clothes and documents outside the house to limit the effect the natural catastrophe has on your life?

Assume a fire destroys a room in your house with your digital devices. Would not it be great to have some backup of your data outside the house to limit the effect of fire on your life?

General idea

Having mutual exchange peers would mean that a small group of people (usually two) exchange belongings for an emergency incident. For the first case, this means that some clothes, documents, bed equipment, plush toys, or external hard drives are stored in your peer’s house. Specifically the peer should live many kilometres away to prevent damages on both properties in the event of an earthquake. For the second case, a hard disk drive is stored on your peer’s property.

Most remaining questions are of organizational nature and I try to propose basic guidelines for a contract between all peers.


Generally speaking the idea is trivial. Specifically you might have family living further away acting as such peers. Or you might have neighbors which you exchange belongings with.

If so, please continue doing that.

Mutual agreement

But my point is two-fold:

  1. Those people might not fit your usecases. Not everyone has family living close-but-not-too-close. Not everyone has neighbors, they want to rely on. The idea of mutual exchange suggests the principle that all peers like and support the idea of public exchange outside the usual peer group. They only sign the mutual exchange agreement and do not require further relations between the peers (new friendships are not prevented though).

  2. Since the peers are not that trustworthy, general tools shall be suggested and provided to make this possible.

General assumptions:

  1. Peers generally take care of their peer’s belongings in the way they expect it from the other peers.

  2. Peers live at the physical storage location in the vast majority of time.

  3. Peers participate voluntarily and without exchange money for this service.

Proposed agreement guidelines:


A basic plan needs to be exchanged, how contact between the peers can be established in case of an emergency of one of the members. Furthermore, absence at your storage location for more than 3 days shall be distributed as notification to your peers. It should be obvious that moving away from the location needs to be reported to your peers. At the end of every year, contact to your peers shall be established as a test. Receiving an appropriate response to your message suffices as test.


The peer living at the physical storage location is responsible for checking the items of the other peer periodically. A period of 2 months is proposed. The danger is that maybe the items are handed over in a cardboard box and mice get interested in the box. They tear apart the box and contained clothes. Therefore a periodic check is proposed. You might want to clarify in more detail what needs to be checked. Without more details, a check needs to confirm that no external damages on the belongings are visible.


A set of belongings to be exchanged shall be negotiated between both parties. It is expected that both parties exchange these and any exceptional items must be negotiated beforehand. Specifically since physical items are exchanged, the required physical space matters a lot to the other party and must be negotiated with care. Finally a date for exchange shall be negotiated. It can be negotiated that peer A visits peer B for this without the other way around. But a photo of the physical storage location at peer A’s place shall be shared in this case. Make it easy for your peer to carry & store the belongings by providing them as one unit (e.g. in a box). Be aware that temperature, humidity, and noise can matter for your items and the storage setting shall be reported beforehand.


General tools shall be used to protect your privacy. In case of paper documents, seriously consider using a lockable metal box for storage. In case of digital data on a storage device, encrypt your data. This prevents stealing private information.


At any point, a peer might decide to cancel participation in this mutual exchange peer group. Then a date for exchanging the items within one month shall be negotiated.


This is really outside my field of expertise. So this agreement can be improved a lot. But I wanted to make the basic idea explicit. Please pick up this idea, suggest improvements and spread the word. I would be interested. If there is sufficient interest, one could establish a website with requests/offers and a list of tools which help people implementing the approach.