Charlene Colas, founder at Bespok, has helped us simplify blockchain and its impact on the built environment industry – both now and in the future …
Question: What potential does blockchain have to change the built environment and the companies that work in it?
Blockchain will create a trusted network for the much needed stakeholders in the industry. It will also add to project management efficiency. Many repetitive tasks can be replaced by blockchain. As an example of supply chain management, you can track and trace more transparently because the information is openly available to those on the blockchain.
Question: How is Bespok helping companies in the real estate and construction sectors get the most out of blockchain technology?
Blockchain technology is still very new in the industry, but tokenization in the real estate industry has already started. At Bespok we are consultants when it comes to getting customers to incorporate this technology into their projects. Smart contracts are the simplest format. We saw the cryptocurrency market causing a stir, and especially recently when Tesla announced that they had bought and will accept Bitcoin. In Switzerland you can also pay with digital money.
Q. Bespok also works with AI technology. How can it support projects in their various forms??
AI has already been introduced in software development like G-Suite and Microsoft 365. The ability to make predictions through machine learning has many uses and benefits. Bespok develops AI-based applications that are proprietary to the built environment. Information is passed on to the stakeholders instead of having to search for it in the mountain of documentation that they have to manage on a daily basis.
The AI benefits include:
- Forecasting software useful in risk management, scheduling and cost management
- Simulation projects – before they start on site to help in the design phases or on site if changes are required
Q. Pattern recognition to aid decision-making in smart contracts has been highlighted as a key aspect of the blockchain that could simplify and streamline operations for companies in this sector. Can you explain more about what this technology can do?
A description of this would be a smart contract programmed with irrevocable clauses of “if … then” that are provided in blockchain. The Ethereum protocol is a leader in blockchain technology.
This would mean that the code is the legally binding contract. Think of the if function in an Excel spreadsheet. A certain output takes place automatically. Typical legal contracts are open to interpretation and not always clear about what can lead to conflict. This becomes a decentralized method where two or more parties can agree without the involvement of a third party.
In addition, functions of payments and schedules can be integrated into the contract under certain conditions.
Question: Blockchain is based on digital and cryptocurrency. How are these factors affecting the built environment industry and how do you see this changing in the years to come?
The construction industry is slowly adapting to the digital environment, especially as it pushes into 2020. The European Central Bank has already sent a statement to everyone that an EU cryptocurrency needs to be set up before big tech companies like Facebook take it on global level.
The industry needs to open up to these payment types too, as they are officially recognized as a transaction method. At Bespok we work across global borders and our business is 100% digital. We saw general contractors now requiring them to sign contracts in digital format. All coordination and meetings are carried out digitally with teams, zoom, hangout, chime etc. The documents are shared on drives for all users such as BOX, Google Drive, Sharepoint and BIM360. Design teams use shared software platforms like BIM360, which are created in a digital format and work together instantly. There is still a lot to be done in research and development in order to advance the industry.