What kind of advantages can we get from using Blockchain technology in BIM processes for the construction industry? Read more about how to manage BIM model data security and transparency with Blockchain.
Anyone involved in BIM-based methodologies know that the essential aspects of BIM are interoperability, collaboration, communication and coordination throughout the building’s life cycle, but in order to improve the efficiency of the construction industry, the entire BIM workflow also needs to rely on a system that can guarantee the tracking down of information exchanges in a transparent manner, making them secure and reliable.
Such system can be represented by the Blockchain, which was introduced as the working mechanism that forms the operational basis of Bitcoin, the first digital cryptocurrency to gain mainstream appeal.
But what is the connection between Blockchain and BIM? What is the use of Blockchain and how would this help construction?
In this focus article we’ll be going through all these aspects and we’ll also provide you with an operational tool to ensure authenticity, date certainty and immutability over time for your work files: usBIM.blockchain, the application to register on the Bitcoin Blockchain any file stored in the integrated usBIM system.
Blockchain: a brief overview
Exchanging digital information, files and data over the internet is something we now take for granted. A file is sent by email anywhere in the world and whoever receives it will have an identical copy to the original in real time.
This process, however, can be risky if used for exchanging money or particularly important information. It was therefore necessary to put in place a system to enable the free movement of value through the internet, without the need for intermediaries and avoiding duplication. This system is called Blockchain.
To put it simple, the Blockchain is a ledger that contains data and information (e.g. transactions of value expressed in Bitcoin) in an open, shared way and without the need for a central entity of control and verification. Data contained in the ledger is managed by a network of people (validators) who ensure its security and they are in charge of validating the changes to be made to the ledger.
The ledger is structured as a chain of blocks containing transactions (or more generally data) that is bundled together and shared across all nodes in a network. All nodes can participate in the validation process of the transactions to be included in the ledger.
This methodology, in time, could replace some operations carried out by banks, law firms, financial institutions, etc.
Blockchain originates from the cryptocurrency sector but its applications are many and its potential largely yet to be explored.
Blockchain in the construction sector
The Blockchain is continuously attracting more and more attention due to its incredible versatility. In some ways, it could help construction and add more transparency to every type of agreement and transaction in a construction project.
In fact, the construction industry, and in particular the BIM methodology, is mainly based on collaboration and information management, transparency in data exchanges and contracts, and trust between project participants that are key to ensuring the success of any BIM process.
In order to ensure full legal effectiveness of such processes, it is necessary to refer to the integration of BIM with a Blockchain system, which ensures security and traceability of the actors involved, actions and information documents exchanged during the process of managing an asset.
The application of Blockchain to the construction sector, and in particular to BIM, certainly represents a valid solution for:
- protection of intellectual property
- stipulation of contracts between contractor, client and professional
- validation of exchange and collaboration processes between the various actors involved
- supply chain processes thanks to smart contracts.
This means that you can refer to a network of validators to make all exchanges:
- trustworthy – Blockchain relies on a dense network of peer-to-peer nodes that makes all exchanges secure and particularly resistant to potential cyber attacks. This means that instead of using a central entity to manage the chain, the Blockchain uses a peer-to-peer, non-hierarchical network in which anyone is allowed to participate. In addition, encryption, decentralization and immutability make information secure, preventing instances of counterfeiting and/or data loss
- traceable – all movements are always recorded and updated on the Blockchain
- immutable – information recorded in Blockchain is distributed on all nodes of the network and therefore cannot be modified afterwards
- datable – transactions recorded in Blockchain are visible to all nodes of the network, making transactions always verifiable and transparent. The verification of a transaction allows to obtain unique information related to the date and time of validation of the transaction itself, creating the so-called “time stamp”.
- inviolable – decentralization also entails the inviolability of the data
- irrevocable – transactions in Blockchain cannot be deleted, modified or cancelled
- verifiable over time – exchanges remain in the Blockchain ledger and can be tracked and monitored over time..
Benefits of Blockchain applied to BIM
Blockchain and BIM are two rather recent methodologies, still in full development but already highly indispensable.
Their union represents the opening to new fields of application and the creation of a completely transparent, secure and traceable BIM process.
In conclusion, Blockchain applied to BIM is useful to ensure:
- certification of documents and processes
- protection and traceability of intellectual property
- security and traceability of information
- guarantee in case of disputes and litigation
- secure storage of all project files
- readability over time, integrity, confidentiality and authenticity of data
- smart contracts
- Supply Chain management and integration
- collaboration between the different actors by increasing trust and developing incentive mechanisms.
usBIM.blockchain is integrated into the usBIM service and allows you to register any document which is uploaded to the platform (IFC models, models in proprietary format, pdf files, images, etc.) on the Bitcoin Blockchain, therefore a public Blockchain that guarantees you total inviolability and security.