Blockchain in the Built Environment & Construction Industry

Blockchain

Charlene Colas, Founder at Bespok, has been helping us simplify Blockchain and it’s impact on the built environment industry – both in the present and in the future…

Q. What is the potential for blockchain to transform the built environment and the firms working within it?

Blockchain will create a trusted network for the much needed stakeholders in the industry. It will also contribute to the efficiencies of project management. Many repetitive tasks can be replaced by blockchain; an example in the supply chain management, you will be able to track and trace with more transparency as the information will be openly available to those on the blockchain.

Q. How does Bespok help firms working in the property and construction sector to make the best use of blockchain technology?

The blockchain technology is still very new to the industry but tokenisation in the real estate industry has already started. We at Bespok serve as an advisor in directing firstly clients to take on board this technology in their projects. This simplest format is smart contracts. We have seen the cryptocurrency market create a buzz, and especially recently when Tesla announced they have purchased and will accept Bitcoin. In Switzerland, you can pay with digital money as well.

Q. Bespok also works with AI technology, how can it support projects in their different forms?

AI has already been introduced in software development like G-suite and Microsoft 365. The ability to predict through machine learning has many applications and benefits. Bespok develops AI powered applications proprietary for the built environment. Information will come to the stakeholders instead of them having to look for it in the mountain of documentation that they have to manage on a daily basis.

AI benefits include:

  • Prediction software which is useful in risk management, scheduling and cost management
  • Simulation projects – before they start onsite, to assist in design phases or onsite when changes are required

Q. Pattern recognition for assisting decision making Smart Contracts have been highlighted as a core aspect of blockchain that could simplify and streamline operations for firms in the sector. Could you explain more about what this technology can do?

A description of this would be an intelligent contract that is programmed with irrevocable clauses of ‘if…then’ which are deployed on blockchain. The Ethereum protocol is leading the blockchain technology.

It would mean that the code is the legally binding contract. Think about the ‘if’ function in an excel spreadsheet, a certain output happens automatically. Typical legal contracts are open to interpretation and not always clear which can lead to conflict. This becomes a decentralised method for two or more parties to agree without the involvement of a third party.

Additionally, functions of payments and schedules can be linked into the contract with given conditions being fulfilled.

Q. Blockchain is based around digital and cryptocurrency, how do these factor into the built environment industry and how do you see this changing in the coming years?

The construction industry is slowly adapting to the digital environment, especially with the push over the year 2020. The European Central Bank has already sent out a statement to all that an EU cryptocurrency needs to be put into place before the large technology companies like Facebook adopt the Libra on a global scale.

The industry will also have to open up to these forms of payments as they are officially recognised as a way to transact. At Bespok, we work across global boundaries and our business is 100% digitial. We have seen with general contractors that they are demanding to sign contracts in digital format now. All co-ordinating and meetings are held digitially with Teams, Zoom, Hangout, Chime etc. The documents are shared on drives with all to access like BOX, Google Drive, Sharepoint and BIM360. Design teams are using shared software platforms like BIM360 that are built in a digital format and collaborate instantly. There is still much to do especially in research and development to move the industry forward.