Blockchain Community

The introduction of new technology into existing sectors can and does come up against similar and familiar barriers.

Replacing legacy systems, legacy processes and familiar practices are often the biggest barriers.

The learning from the uptake of Building Information Modelling (BIM), is a case in point.

The processes and technology underpinning BIM have been around for over 30 years.  Despite countless pilots and empirical evidence showing BIM processes and tools can save between 5% to 30% of construction costs and deliver a range of other benefits, adoption rates are still relatively low.

Governments around the world are now looking to mandate BIM in order to boost adoption rates, but while this is having an impact the inertia to change is still evident.

Evolution & Revolution

Major change, in particular fast moving technology change, can impact people in many ways.

Job roles change; there are new workflows to comprehend; different processes; new training; increased uncertainty; different reporting layers; impact on behaviours; the threat of reduced pay; business risks; and the fear of job loss.

Challenge is also an import and often beneficial aspect of change that can hold back progress. Just because someone says something new is good, doesn’t mean it will be.

These factors also have to be seen from the context of people being asked to introduce new ‘stuff’ while still facing daily pressures to keep existing processes and business working smoothly until any transitions take place.

Blockchain is such a transformative technology which can impact just about every business process.  Those who move beyond the ‘what is blockchain?’ phase quickly recognise the many material benefits that the technology can bring.

Within the construction sector, however, wholesale change to introduce blockchains is already being seen as a new change on top of an existing major BIM implementation that is still going through early stage adoption.

Blockchains are such a major breakthrough that the challenge could be to find a balance between incremental evolutionary change and wholesale revolutionary change.


Blockchain Community

Breakthrough technologies often have to go through pilots and while these are valuable test beds, they can be limited by scope and context if they have a very narrow set of parameters within which a pilot can demonstrate whatever it is that the terms of reference are built around.

Then there is the argument that one pilot does not make a strong enough business case.

Creating an environment where any and all new technologies can be tried and tested is the ideal scenario.

New and existing ways of working can be deployed to provide a balance between leading edge and tried and tested ‘get it done’ for the best overall outcome.

Real world deployment on an industrial scale is an option that can encompass multiple pilots, while working towards building something tangible.

And what can be more tangible than building an actual community?

As the blockchain landscape is still completely open uncharted territory , the opportunity exists to address specific pilots within industry and to have parallel development on projects with wider scope.


Technology Businesses Building Communities

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There is a recent trend of technology companies moving into creating master plan communities, primarily to test new technology.

The reasons for these organisations moving into creating living spaces varies from a need to provide accommodation for essential workers to testing new technology.

The attractiveness of multi-use managed communities is the range of property types that are required to be built, such as retail, hospitality, healthcare, offices, schools, etc.

Master Plan Communities


Building these communities can be beneficial for all those involved, including investors, as can be seen from the increasing numbers of master plan or managed communities.

The key feature of master planning a community is that you can decide what happens.

This is not only a feature, but one of the biggest benefits, especially if you get the plan right and you create a place where people want to live.

  • Las Vegas, USA started out life as a master plan community around 1903 with a land deal.
  • Irvine Ranch, USA is one of the best places to live in the USA and as a private community the owner has become the richest property developer in the US from this one property deal
  • Palms Islands, Dubai  is a very popular community that is made up of three purpose built islands each with housing and other real estate
  • Monaco Expansion, Monaco  With limited space and high demand, Monaco is building a new community by expanding into the sea.

While these examples of mostly privately funded communities are high profile, there are tens of thousands of smaller gated developments that are focused only around residential use.

Building planned communities can make economic, social and practical sense.

Blockchain Living

The existing blockchain technologies already provide the fundamental tools needed to create functional communities:

  • Money
  • Identity
  • Loans
  • Land title
  • Voting
  • Contracts

Building a blockchain community from scratch can use the best of existing technology, the exciting emerging technologies and enable smart cities technology to be factored from day one.

High speed wi-fi, autonomous vehicles, smart street lighting, automated logistics, sensor equipped places of work, safe places to walk and play and openness of communities to becoming technology labs for innovators eager to prove their new products and tools.

The primary consideration is not the availability or capability of the technology, but the longstanding issue: location, location, location.

That leaves the next logical set of questions – where to start and how many communities should be built during the first phase?

AIA Introduce Blockchain Accreditation Course For Construction Sector

AIA Blockchain Accreditation

Education is Critical

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.

Guest post

Erick Calderon
Derek Webb, AIA
Houston, TX


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