In blockchain technology a transaction gets represented as block, the block then gets distributed across the blockchain network and the network (which consists of all users of the blockchain) verifies that the transaction is valid (this is done using complex cryptography). The block is then added to the chain and reconciled across the network creating a permanent immutable record of the transaction.

One of the benefits of Blockchain technology is that the blockchain is stored on every computer who is using that block chain network and each computer is continually verifying that the block chain is correct. This creates a massive decentralised network or users continually verifying information opposed to the traditional method of storing information at one central location and validating it there which creates a massive opportunity for hackers or for the information to become corrupted.

At present many associate blockchain with crypto currencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum or Ripple but this technology is being taken seriously in the wider market. IBM have a budget of $200m and 1,000 employees working on blockchain powered projects and Fintech firms invested an estimated $2.1bn in blockchain projects in 2018.

As the use of BIM develops to where all project participants are able to work on and amend a single unified model block chain technology appears to solve the problem of ensuring security, auditability and validity of the model.

Some of the key issues in having multiple parties amending a single unified BIM model arise around ownership and copyright of their respective contributions. Consultants will be concerned as to what their design responsibility will be and that the ownership of the design will be protected. With multiple contributors amending different parts of the model from different locations, at different times the lines can quickly become blurred as to who owns what design liability and who owns the design or part thereof.

Blockchain could unblur these lines as it would create an immutable timestamped database record of every change made to the model. This would enable accurate auditing of the model to ascertain design responsibility and liability as well as ownership of intellectual and property rights.

Aside from BIM blockchain could have many other uses including verifying the chain of custody of materials (currently utilised by DeBeers), validating the authenticity of materials and proof of ownership, tracking and recording data (as used by BHP Bhiliton) and of course payment utilising cryptocurrencies.

Urban Project Services have associates who specialise in blockchain technology. If you would like to find out more about block chain, please get in touch.

This article contains information of general interest about current legal issues and does not provide legal advice. It is prepared for the general information purposes only. This article should not be relied upon in any specific situation without appropriate legal advice.