A blockchain is not the most intuitive technology platform in the world. Ideally, over time, people will be using blockchains without even needing to understand exactly what they are and how they operate.
In the meantime in order to pave the way for blockchain platforms to find integration in the construction industry a very basic level of understanding will have to be attained in order to give industry professionals confidence in the concept as a whole.
Take the big jump from DOS to Windows back in the 90’s for example. Before Windows existed, many people were turned off by computers simply from the intimidation of the command prompt interactions necessary to operate in the DOS environment.
Microsoft Windows was a platform operating essentially in the exact same manner as DOS, only that instead of typing a command a user would click an icon and the software would essentially type the command in the background for the user to start a program.
This separation of the average user from having to interact with a command line revolutionized the computing industry, and similarly blockchain-operated platforms will go through a similar transition.
Eventually the only people talking blockchain will be the IT professionals in the same way that they are the only ones discussing mySQL and router port forwarding, etc. The average consumer does not need to know all the details of how things work.
That said I believe that construction industry professionals would benefit from understanding the inherent principles of transparency, scalability, immutability, and eventually the efficiency that a blockchain offers. Even if they never have to personally interact with it, I believe explaining the basic principles and proposing some real world use cases can give an Architect confidence when populating BIM data onto a blockchain platform versus a standard database.
The construction industry has historically been slow to adapt to new technologies, and is an industry primed for disruption.
For blockchain integration to work it will benefit from a critical mass of early adopters who see this new system platform/protocol as a means to a competitive advantage in the marketplace and not just the next new modeling software that everyone has to learn to be effective at producing drawings.
We propose the creation of an AIA (American Institute of Architects) accredited continuing education course (CEU) that would cover the basic principles of blockchain technology in order to give Architecture, Design, and Engineering industry professionals a working knowledge of the technology.
The course would include an introduction to digital currencies in general starting with Bitcoin which is responsible for launching the technology upon which all blockchains are based. This would be followed by an in depth explanation of the transparency, security, and immutability properties of blockchain based data storage.
We will expand on the concepts of smart contracts and decentralized storage and how that all works on a blockchain backbone. Finally the course would explore how blockchain technologies can be integrated in the construction industry to take advantage of all of the previously discussed innovations that blockchain platforms offer.
The ideal introductory platform for the course would be at the AIA’s annual Conference on Architecture, with subsequent presentations at regional and local conferences.
This CEU lecture would become an incredibly powerful tool to instill the word “blockchain” into the minds and vocabularies of industry professionals. Some will have simply heard of Bitcoin and will welcome understanding the technology in more depth. It will be the beginning of a conversation that will theoretically revolutionize the entire industry. It would be great if that conversations was started under the Helium umbrella.
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Derek Webb, AIA
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