Use of blockchain for enabling Construction 4.0
Blockchain, known as the ‘Trust Protocol’, is the amalgamation of technologies for secure decentralized data management and value transaction, with characteristics that provide security, anonymity, provenance, immutability and purpose of data without any third-party organization in control of data transactions. This creates novel opportunities in digital applications and ecosystems and is particularly disruptive in cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things, cloud computing, cognitive computing and other automation and data exchange processes relevant to the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Distributed Ledgers Technologies, with and without blockchain are highly relevant in the application of Virtual Environments, like Mixed Reality, and BIM when discussing the construction sector, in which projects suffer fragmentation in processes, services and firms, with disconnect between design and construction. Blockchain can subvert these effects through use of open and transparent transactions, revolutionizing construction and building operations, leading to delivery of higher quality, more sustainable assets. Arguably, blockchain is central to cyber-physical systems. From the beginning, the protocol of cryptocurrencies embedded possibilities for programmable money and computational contracts. This ‘tokenized economy’ offers a tremendous variety of possible transaction and applications yet to be discovered and exploited. Decentralization of money and payments has moved to decentralization of markets and contemplates the transfer of many other kinds of assets beyond cryptocurrency. Developments in blockchain leverage novel categories, distinctions, and understandings of value allocation, and standard classifications and definitions are still emerging. Some of the terminology that broadly refers to the blockchain 2.0 space includes Smart Contracts, Smart Property, Decentralized Applications and Decentralized Autonomous Organizations. However, not all processes need an economy or a payments system, or peer-to-peer exchange, or decentralization, or robust public record keeping. Blockchain shows that there are at least three different levels of information. The first level is dumb, unenhanced, unmodulated data. The second is socially recommended data, data elements enriched by social network peer recommendation, made possible by networked internet models. The newly proposed level three is blockchain consensus-validated data, data’s highest recommendation level based on group consensus-supported accuracy and quality. This chapter focuses on the evolution, application and future directions of blockchain technology in the context of cyber-physical systems and Construction 4.0.