Blockchain in construction

Hype vs. Reality

In 2015 BaseStone was part of the Barclays Techstars accelerator program.  This cohort was almost 50% blockchain* startups. Blockchain hype was not at the crazy levels it reached in 2017 and this cohort, which included EverLedger and Safello were tackling interesting problems rather than pushing pump and dump schemes to the masses as seems to be prevalent today. 

At that time we speculated about blockchain in construction and we were sceptical. Not because of the lack of potential of the technology but because we saw the challenges in the industry as much more fundamental.  Fast forward 30 months and blockchain is being mentioned as a solution for all ills in every industry and Construction is not exempt.

The issue for blockchain is the common one for new technologies.  With a shiny new distributed ledger hammer every problem looks like a nail.  Into the hype the BRE have dropped a refreshing dose of reality in their report: “Blockchain – feasibility and opportunity assessment available here. This is a hype free and measured review of the potential for blockchain technology. It examines a number of proposed applications and should be required reading as an antidote to the unconstrained hyperbole the industry has been subjected to recently.  While the review is not exhaustive it assesses a number of the issues that impact technology adoption in construction in general and should not be ignored. Let us not forget that the blockchain technologies unlike BIM does not set out to solve any particular construction industry problem, and BIM adoption has not been without its problems. Use your favourite search engine to find articles on “problems adopting BIM”.

I am not here to damn the blockchain with faint praise, far from it. At BaseStone we see the potential that this technology has for addressing some fundamental issues within the industry. The BRE article examines the potential for Smart Contracts as made possible by the ethereum network. Ethereum has a more complete execution engine than Bitcoin that is in effect Turing-complete i.e. is almost a general purpose computer.  We believe that the leap to replace JCT, NEC and other forms of contract with Smart Contracts is premature and potentially self defeating. The majority of the proposed benefits can be achieved with a different mechanism. In particular the use of sidechains would provide a distributed, semi-private consensus platform for evidencing project data. Such a platform, which could utilise Smart Contracts with limited scope, would provide the validation for payment stages which already form part of the standard contracts. If the industry was able to take this first step, perhaps we could set the groundwork for faster payments and smarter contracts which could benefit the whole industry.

BaseStone are members of the Construction Blockchain Consortium. 

Dr. Simon McCabe 
Chief Technology Officer
BaseStone

 

*A blockchain, originally block chain is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a cryptographic hash of the previous block, a timestamp and transaction data. By design, a blockchain is inherently resistant to modification of the data. It is “an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way”. More on Blockchain Wikipedia page

Construct//Disrupt deconstructs proptech

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Construct//Disrupt: Proptech took place on the 19th May in London – an event hosted by BaseStone and supported by Savills to explore the future of real estate. The latest innovations disrupting property were showcased and industry thought-leaders shed light on what innovation means for the sector.

The keynote speaker was the fantastic Berlin-based architect Allison Dring, who spoke about the revolutionary “smog-eating” facade panels developed by her company, Elegant Embellishments.

Alex Siljanovski, founder of BaseStone, a construction collaboration startup and creators of the Construct//Disrupt event, spoke about the distributed nature of information in the construction industry and the need for collaboration and user-centred design.

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He stated that “The property sector is ripe for disruption and proptech has the potential to address some of the biggest challenges facing cities. Bringing the best startups and innovators to the forefront is what Construct//Disrupt is all about.”

Infographic: 8 Reasons why you should care about proptech

Nicky Wightman, Director of Savills Worldwide Occupier Services and Founding Member of Savills Tech Cities, spoke about their Tech Cities research into the drivers that make successful cities for the technology sector.

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Wightman added that “Tech Cities is part of our commitment to understanding the relationship between the technology community and our global cities. It is an evolving programme which aims to be relevant, dynamic and engaging”.

The event was held at Huckletree, London’s most creative co-working space at their latest opening in the Alphabeta Building. Jacob Loftus, Head of UK Investment at Resolution Property, the developers of the space, also spoke at the event, exploring the trends impacting the next generation of workspaces.

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A series of startups gave lightning talks showcasing the next generation of technology disrupting property. Raphael Scheps, Co-founder of Converge, spoke about the Internet of Things and concrete sensors that drastically reduce the admin burden on engineers in construction. William Newton, UK Director at WiredScore spoke about the need for connectivity and PropertyScape provided attendees with live demos of their VR technology for property developers.

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BaseStone’s Construct//Disrupt events bring together industry leaders and tech startups to showcase the future technologies in construction and engineering. Construct//Disrupt is created and powered by BaseStone with a vision to collectively move towards better collaboration between disciplines and across industry lines.

See the photos

Infographic: 8 Reasons why you should care about proptech

Twitter response

 

BaseStone London finalists for KPMG’s Best British Mobile Startup

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BaseStone were chosen to be in the London finals of KPMG’s competition for Best British Mobile Startup and pitched for a speaking slot at the 4YFN conference at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona later this month. The competition took place in the Cass Business School last night, organised by KPMG Tech Growth alongside UKTI.

8 startups pitched in total, including fellow Techstars company TeskaLabs and fellow Cognicity alum Pointr. The diversity of the startups in the final was incredible, disrupting sectors from finance to live sports, demonstrating that mobile technology is a strong driving force of innovation that is changing the way we live and work.

Alex Siljanovski, founder & CEO of BaseStone, spoke about the necessity and use of BaseStone on site to connect engineers in the field with project members in the design office. In Box’s 2014 study comparing collaboration practices of five industries, construction emerged on top as the industry for whom mobile technology was paramount – ahead of manufacturing, financial services and the media and entertainment industry.

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The other startups included Blocks, the first modular smartwatch which has recently been in the press for a successful $1.6m Kickstarter campaign, Pointr, the indoor mapping app that can be used in museums, shopping centres and soon to be available at Dubai’s airport and Cupris the app that allows patients and doctors to connect remotely, transforming healthcare in the developed and developing world.

The competition was being judged by an expert panel consisting of Bindi Karia, Gi Fernando and Robert Dighero who chose the 2 startups they thought would best represent the future of mobile technology at 4YFN. TeskaLabs, who provide security and protection to enterprises for mobile technology, and What3Words, a new way of precise mapping using a unique combination of words rather than numbers, were chosen to go ahead, with a special mention to BaseStone from the judges for disrupting an industry like construction.

It was a fantastic experience and we extend our thanks to the judges and organisers for a great opportunity. Looking forward to seeing the progress of the other startups in the coming months!

Cisco Start-up Hub interviews to BaseStone CEO Alex Siljanovski

In December, Cisco launched their Start-Up Hub – a community to address the various pains and gains associated with being an entrepreneur. They are creating content with hand-picked experts and industry insiders, and BaseStone’s delighted to have been asked to be a contributor.

In this short video, Cisco interviews BaseStone CEO Alex Siljanovski about his shift into the world of startups, his inspirations and his advice for budding entrepreneurs. Watch out for future clips and blog posts from BaseStone!

Read Cisco Start-Up’s post here.