Sharing Our Expert Insights

Arcartera Provides Answers to Research Student’s Questions on Project Paper

We are pleased to share that a research student from the Hong Kong University recently reached out to Arcartera with some questions regarding their project paper. We were more than happy to assist and have provided comprehensive answers to their queries. With the student’s permission, we would like to share our responses with the readers of our website, as we believe that the insights we have provided may be valuable to those interested in the subject matter.

1. What are the comparative advantages of using Blockchain technology to register Intellectual Properties (BIM models, drawings and contributions), despite the comprehensive tracking and recording function of Common Data Environment? [What makes it necessary to do so?]

Blockchain technology provides an immutable record of transactions, allowing for a secure and transparent way to register intellectual properties in the construction industry. The advantages of using blockchain for IP registration include the ability to create a permanent record of ownership and transfer, facilitate collaboration between different parties, and prevent the unauthorized use of intellectual property. Arcartera is developing a blockchain-based platform specifically for the architecture, engineering, and construction industry that provides an efficient and secure way to register and track intellectual property. It is currently using NFT’s to time-stamp and verity agreed upon BIM files on the blockchain.

2. What would be the approximate range of the cost to establish a blockchain software for a construction project/company?

The cost of establishing a blockchain-based software for a construction project/company depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the project, the number of participants involved, and the complexity of the blockchain solution. Generally, blockchain solutions require significant upfront investment in terms of development and infrastructure, but can result in long-term cost savings by reducing administrative overhead and improving efficiency. Hence the cost of developing a blockchain solution can range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

3. What kind of costs are included in establishing and operating a blockchain?

The costs of establishing and operating a blockchain solution include software development, infrastructure, maintenance, and ongoing operational costs. Developing a blockchain solution requires specialized knowledge and expertise, which can result in higher costs compared to traditional software development. The cost of establishing and operating a blockchain also varies depending on the complexity of the project and the level of customization required. Additionally, ongoing maintenance and operation costs should also be considered. However, Arcartera is committed to providing cost-effective solutions for its clients, and we work closely with our clients to understand their specific needs and budget constraints. By leveraging our expertise in blockchain technology, we aim to offer efficient and streamlined solutions at a reasonable cost.

4. How to avoid the gas fee in transfer of ownership?

Gas fees are a necessary part of the Ethereum blockchain and are used to incentivize miners to process transactions. However, gas fees can be a significant cost for frequent transactions, such as transfer of ownership. Arcartera is working on a solution that allows for the transfer of ownership without incurring gas fees by using off-chain solutions such as state channels or sidechains, enabling more cost-effective transactions. When on-chain solutions are needed, like minting NFT’s for a BIM (Building Information Management) file, they are generated on the Polygon Network, which has a much lower and hence attractive gas-fee structure.

5. How much time is required to establish a blockchain system for IP registration?

The time required to establish a blockchain system for IP registration can vary depending on the specific requirements of the project. In general, the development and implementation process can take several months to a year or more. However, at Arcartera, we pride ourselves on our agility and efficiency when it comes to delivering blockchain solutions. Simple IP registration smart contracts can be created in less than 2 weeks. This could be a Solidity (Ethereum compatible coding language) code that issues NFT’s to verify BIM files. However, complicated systems, with company specific rules can be a very time-consuming task that can take 3-12 month.

6. Should the blockchain be established in a project-based or company-based way?

The decision to establish a blockchain system in a project-based or company-based way depends on the specific needs and requirements of the company or project. Arcartera provides customized blockchain solutions that can be tailored to the specific needs of the client, offering both project-based and company-based solutions. Generally we believe that the decision to establish the blockchain in a project-based or company-based way depends on the specific needs and goals of the stakeholders involved. 

For instance, if the project involves multiple parties with different levels of involvement and responsibilities, a project-based approach may be more appropriate to ensure transparency and accountability. On the other hand, if the goal is to establish a system for managing all intellectual property across an entire company, a company-based approach may be more efficient and cost-effective. 

7. How to establish a consortium blockchain within a construction project with limited number of project participants, while maintaining the “distributed” feature of the blockchain?

Establishing a consortium blockchain within a construction project with a limited number of participants is a challenging task, as it requires balancing the need for a distributed system with the practical limitations of a small group. At Arcartera, we believe that this can be achieved by designing a blockchain network that is tailored to the specific needs of the project.

The first step is to identify the key stakeholders in the project, including the owner, designers, contractors, and sub-contractors. Once these stakeholders have been identified, we work with them to define the requirements for the blockchain system, such as the type of information that needs to be stored, the level of security required, and the rules for accessing the system.

Next, we design a blockchain network that is specifically tailored to the needs of the project. This may involve creating a private blockchain network that is only accessible to the key stakeholders in the project. The network may be based on an existing blockchain platform, such as Ethereum, or it may be a custom-built blockchain platform that is specifically designed for the project.

One of the key challenges of establishing a consortium blockchain is ensuring that the network is decentralized, even with a limited number of participants. To achieve this, we use a consensus mechanism that is designed to prevent any one participant from having too much control over the network. This may involve using a proof-of-stake or proof-of-authority consensus mechanism, rather than the more common proof-of-work mechanism.

Finally, we work with the project stakeholders to develop a governance framework for the blockchain network. This includes defining the roles and responsibilities of each participant, as well as the rules for making changes to the network. We also provide training and support to ensure that all participants are able to use the system effectively.

As an example, we recently worked with a small consortium of contractors and sub-contractors on a major infrastructure project. We established a private blockchain network that was based on the Ethereum platform and used a proof-of-authority consensus mechanism. The network was designed to store information about the project schedule, including key milestones and deadlines. We also developed a governance framework that defined the roles and responsibilities of each participant, as well as the rules for accessing the system. The project was completed on time and within budget, thanks in part to the transparency and efficiency provided by the blockchain network.

In a decentralized blockchain network, no single entity or person is responsible for operating the network. Instead, all participants in the network have a role in maintaining the network and validating transactions. Arcartera is developing a decentralized blockchain solution for IP registration in the AEC industry, which means that responsibility for operating the blockchain will be shared among all participants in the network. Arcartera will provide the necessary infrastructure and tools to enable participants to interact with the blockchain, but the network itself will be maintained collectively by all participants.

9. Would it create nuisance to design owners if they have to register their design? In what time interval should they deposit their design file onto the system?

Registering designs on a blockchain can actually streamline the process and provide added security for design owners. Arcartera’s blockchain solution for IP registration will allow design owners to easily and securely register their designs on the blockchain. The registration process will be automated and efficient, minimizing the burden on design owners. In terms of the time interval for depositing design files onto the system, this will depend on the specific requirements of each project. However, Arcartera’s blockchain solution is designed to be flexible and customizable, so it can be adapted to meet the unique needs of each project.

10. Would there be any security risk arise from the storage of original design file in the IPFS system?

The InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) is a decentralized file storage system that is used in conjunction with blockchain technology. IPFS provides a secure and reliable way to store large files such as design files, while maintaining the decentralized and immutable nature of the blockchain. Arcartera’s blockchain solution for IP registration will utilize the IPFS system for storing design files, which will be encrypted and distributed across the network to ensure maximum security. By using a combination of blockchain and IPFS technology, Arcartera’s solution provides a highly secure and efficient way to register and store design files.

Security Risks: Since IPFS is a distributed file system, there is a risk of security breaches if the network is compromised. For example, if an unauthorized user gains access to the network, they may be able to view and copy sensitive design files, leading to intellectual property theft or other security breaches. Additionally, since the files are stored across multiple nodes, there is a risk of data fragmentation or loss.

Technical Risks: Another potential risk of using IPFS for design file registration is technical issues with the system itself. For instance, if the IPFS network experiences congestion or latency issues, it may lead to delays or errors in file transfers. Moreover, if the network undergoes a major update or migration, there could be compatibility issues with existing design files, leading to data corruption or loss.

To mitigate these risks, it is important for companies like Arcartera to implement robust security measures, such as encryption and access controls, to safeguard design files stored on IPFS. Additionally, regular backups and redundancy measures can help prevent data loss in the event of technical issues or network failures. Finally, partnering with reputable and reliable IPFS providers can help ensure the integrity and availability of design files stored on the network.

11. Could you comment on the below proposed conceptual framework of the blockchain-based registration system?

When considering a blockchain-based registration system for architects, several front-end and back-end data segments would be required, as follows:

Front-end data segments:

  1. User interface (UI): The UI should be user-friendly, interactive, and easy to navigate. It should provide architects with the ability to register their intellectual property (IP), view their registrations, and perform various other functions.
  2. Intellectual Property (IP) information: This segment should include information such as the title, description, author, date of creation, and other relevant details of the IP that is being registered.
  3. Legal agreements: The system should provide users with legal agreements that they must agree to before registering their IP. This agreement should clearly state the terms and conditions of using the registration system.

Back-end data segments:

  1. Blockchain: The blockchain is the foundation of the system and stores all of the registered IP. The blockchain segment should be scalable and secure to handle a high volume of data.
  2. Smart contracts: Smart contracts can automate processes such as registration, verification, and transfer of ownership of IP. These contracts can help ensure that all parties involved in the transaction follow the agreed-upon terms.
  3. InterPlanetary File System (IPFS): IPFS is a decentralized storage system that is used to store large files, such as 3D models and drawings. It is ideal for storing IP that is too large to be stored on the blockchain.

The front-end data segments would be visible to users, and the back-end data segments would be invisible and handled by the system. The IPFS system would store the large files, and the blockchain and smart contracts would ensure the security and immutability of the registration process.

In conclusion, your proposed framework has a good structure. But a blockchain-based registration system for architects would mainly require a user-friendly UI. Besides that, there should be a strong focus on IP information, legal agreements, blockchain, smart contracts, and IPFS. The system would provide an efficient and secure way for architects to register their IP, ensuring that their work is protected and their ownership is established.

12 .How does smart contract facilitate the grant of access to other project participants?

Smart contracts can facilitate the grant of access to other project participants by automating the process of granting permissions and managing access control. With a smart contract in place, participants can be granted access to specific resources or information based on predefined conditions, such as the completion of certain tasks or the fulfillment of certain requirements.

For example, in a construction project, a smart contract can be programmed to automatically grant access to the project design files to contractors once they have completed their portion of the work and have been approved by the project manager. The smart contract can also ensure that access to the design files is automatically revoked once the project is completed or if the contractor’s work is deemed unsatisfactory.

Additionally, smart contracts can also provide transparency and accountability in the grant of access process. The use of blockchain technology ensures that all actions taken within the contract are transparent and auditable, and can be traced back to specific participants. This can help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information and provide a tamper-proof record of all access requests and grants.

Overall, smart contracts can simplify and streamline the process of granting access to project participants while also ensuring security and accountability.

13. How to connect a project’s BIM model to a smart contract? How should the “if…then…” code in the smart contract set to grant access to other project participants?

Connecting a project’s BIM model to a smart contract involves a few steps. First, the BIM model needs to be stored on the IPFS network, which provides a decentralized storage solution. Next, an NFT (Non-Fungible Token) can be created to represent the BIM model. The NFT can contain metadata such as the location of the BIM model on IPFS, the name of the project, and other relevant information.

Once the NFT is created, it can be used to define the terms of the smart contract. The smart contract can specify the conditions under which access to the BIM model will be granted to other project participants. For example, the smart contract could specify that access will only be granted if certain conditions are met, such as the payment of a fee or the completion of certain tasks.

The “if…then…” code in the smart contract can be set to grant access to other project participants based on specific criteria. For example, if a contractor has completed a certain percentage of the project, they may be granted access to the BIM model. However, it is important to note that the smart contract should be designed in a way that does not allow for the granting of access to be altered or changed after it has been uploaded. This ensures that the decentralized and independent nature of the blockchain is maintained.

Overall, the front-end data segments for a UI would include information about the project, such as project name, project stage, and access control settings. The back-end data segments would include the BIM model stored on IPFS, the NFT that represents the BIM model, and the smart contract that defines the terms of access to the BIM model. By using smart contracts and NFTs, a blockchain-based registration system for architects can provide a secure and transparent way to grant access to project participants while maintaining the decentralized nature of the blockchain.

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