Blockchain

Blockchain

Blockchain technology provides a secure way of storing and transferring data. Blockchain-based “smart contracts” can ensure that money is transferred between stakeholders, when certain pre-defined criteria have been obtained. This makes approval processes more transparent and legally binding.

Blockchain technology can be described as a decentralised database with a record of transactions between stakeholders. The mathematical structure of the database makes it close to impossible to fake or tamper with the transactions. Consequently, stakeholders can use blockchain technology to transfer money or important information to each other without the need for an intermediary (such as a bank). Blockchain technology can also be used for creating smart contracts, i.e. pre-defined contracts that make a transaction (e.g. of money or tokens) from one stakeholder to another when certain criteria are attained. 

In construction, blockchain technology may be used for

  • Storing records on the origin of materials, how and when materials have been processed and by whom.
  • Making approval processes more transparent and legally binding, e.g. ensuring that all involved parties have approved a certain version of a building information model.
  • Contract management e.g. ensuring that sub-contractors are payed on-time

Blockchain technology is often compared to the internet in terms of its transformational potential. Whereas the internet transformed how we communicate, blockchain technology may change how we exchange value and who we trust. 

Benefits and challenges

  • Improved traceability and transparency in the construction workflow
  • Reduced transaction costs between stakeholders, hereby reducing the overall cost of the project
  • Fewer disputes due to unclear approval processes or contractual issues
  • Need for pre-defining criteria and standardising processes

Application examples

The technology company BIMCHAIN uses blockchain technology to improve the use of building information modelling (BIM) in construction. BIMCHAIN builds legally binding and fully traceable workflows in which the BIM model serves as a single source of truth. Moreover, it applies smart contracts to create transparent payment structures that are based on individual stakeholders’ contribution to the project (bimchain.io). 

Due to the immutability of blockchain technology, it is considered suitable for implementing smart city technologies. Dubai aims to be the first blockchain-powered city by 2020. Dubai will use among other things use blockchain technology for city-wide logistics (meetingoftheminds.org).

Development stage

Blockchain technology is still in its infancy. Early use cases are emerging in construction. 

Construction impact

Blockchain-based technologies are expected to affect the construction and use phases of construction projects.

Read more

www.arup.com

www.lexology.com

www.cemexventures.com

www.arup.com

http://www.technologycards.net/the-technologies/blockchain
21 AUGUST 2019