Blockchain solution to transform BIM

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A French technology start-up is adapting a Blockchain-based solution it claims will transform BIM into a truly collaborative and legally binding process

Bimchain.io is running proof of concept trials designed to integrate its distributed ledger technology (DLT), similar to that used in Blockchain-based systems such as the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, into BIM processes, tools, and data.

The project is supported by Autodesk and the Plan Transition Numérique dans le Bâtiment, the French equivalent of the BIM Task Group in the UK, and a market-ready product is expected to launch next year.

The ambition is to create a new collaborative process that bridges the gap between 3D digital modelling and the formal and legally binding paper-based processes related to project administration, building control, insurance and payment.

The aim is to link validated proofs of contributions to the 3D model with automated payments, a form of smart contract that guarantees all stakeholders are committed to achieving the level of quality required.

However, the process of activating automatic payments requires some tweaking. Blockchain is currently only able to execute cryptocurrency payments, which are not widely accepted in construction. Instead, it is thought the system will trigger legally binding documents that detail the payments required.

Another potential complication is the transparency of data sharing inherent to blockchains which, though beneficial in terms of the potential to cut disputes, is at odds with the sensitivities and intellectual property concerns of many construction companies.

Bimchain.io has been in discussions with Bouygues UK, Saint Gobain UK and industry think tank dotBuiltEnvironment to explore the options across the channel.

According to Gueguen, insurers in France are interested in the platform’s transparency and open to the idea of reducing their premiums if they can track project programmes in granular detail.

The ultimate aim is to create a decentralised version of BIM, which instead of running in a central common data environment on a cloud platform run by a third party, is based on peer-to-peer data exchange with no one party able to control or claim ownership of the data.

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