Implementing the NFT BIM Solution
Revolutionizing Building Information Modeling: Unleashing the Power of Decentralized BIM with NFT Minting"
Arcartera is currently storing BIM files on a webserver instead of IPFS, while maintaining decentralization through the minting of NFTs that point towards the storage URL of the uploaded BIM file. We may move to IPFS in a later stage of development.
INTRODUCTION In the realm of Building Information Modelling (BIM), decentralization has emerged as a promising approach to address the shortcomings of its infrastructure. This article explores an alternative solution to traditional BIM systems by leveraging the decentralized web. While BIM offers valuable collaborative design capabilities, issues related to tracing design authorship and the reliance on centralized servers persist. To overcome these challenges, we propose a decentralized infrastructure based on the Ethereum blockchain and webserver storage. By adopting this approach, BIM models can be stored and shared in a transparent and immutable manner. Additionally, the infrastructure enables the creation of a global pool of data that allows computational agents to participate in the creation and simulation of BIM models. The keywords associated with this approach include blockchain, decentralization, immutability, resilience, and Building Information Modelling.
BACKGROUND BIM has often been hailed as a comprehensive solution for architectural design processes. However, the practical implementation of BIM differs from its idealistic vision. The fragmented nature of the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction (AEC) industry poses challenges to the integration of BIM across various phases of the design process. Additionally, centralized cloud-based solutions for BIM suffer from issues such as data ownership, fragmentation, and limitations in interoperability. These challenges highlight the need for a decentralized approach that can enhance data integrity, ownership, and collaboration within the AEC industry.
DECENTRALIZATION AND dBIM To address the limitations of traditional BIM systems, we propose dBIM (decentralized BIM) as a solution that counterbalances some of BIM’s inherent challenges. By embracing decentralization, dBIM aims to address the fragmented nature of the AEC industry and provide a foundation for innovative business and design models. While BIM offers integration of information, it falls short in terms of process integration. By adopting decentralized solutions, such as the Ethereum blockchain and webserver storage, we can effectively tackle the technological fragmentation prevalent in the industry.
THE ETHEREUM BLOCKCHAIN The Ethereum Blockchain (ETH) serves as a universal state machine implemented over a decentralized network of nodes. It offers immutability and public accessibility, allowing for the execution of smart contracts. Ethereum’s Turing completeness ensures the capability to run complex computations while introducing the concept of “Gas” to measure computational effort and incentivize efficiency. Storing data directly on the Ethereum blockchain can be expensive due to replication among nodes. Therefore, to maintain consistency with the decentralized infrastructure concept and overcome the challenges associated with centralized servers, we propose combining the Ethereum blockchain with webserver storage.
WEB SERVER STORAGE Unlike IPFS, which was previously discussed, web server storage provides an alternative approach for storing BIM files. While IPFS offers decentralized file sharing without a centralized infrastructure, web server storage allows architects and designers to store BIM files on web servers. By leveraging web server storage, we maintain the decentralization principle while utilizing existing infrastructure. This approach enables architects to retain control over their intellectual property and share BIM models in an immutable and transparent manner.
- NFT MINTING FOR DECENTRALIZED STORAGE (Continued) To ensure decentralization and traceability of BIM files stored on web servers, we propose the minting of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). An NFT is a unique digital asset that can represent ownership or access rights to a specific file or resource. In the context of dBIM, an NFT can point to the URL of the uploaded BIM file on the web server. By minting an NFT for each BIM file, we establish a transparent and immutable record of ownership and storage location.
The minting process involves creating a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain that conforms to the ERC-721 standard, which is specifically designed for NFTs. When an architect or designer uploads a BIM file to the web server, the minting process is triggered. The smart contract generates a unique NFT and associates it with the metadata of the uploaded BIM file, including details such as the author, creation date, and storage URL. This NFT acts as a digital certificate of authenticity and provides a decentralized reference to the BIM file.
- BENEFITS OF dBIM WITH NFT MINTING The adoption of dBIM with NFT minting offers several benefits to the AEC industry:
a) Data Ownership: With dBIM, architects and designers retain ownership of their BIM files. By minting an NFT, they establish a clear record of ownership and can trace the history of their design throughout its lifecycle. This ensures that intellectual property rights are protected and provides a mechanism for resolving disputes.
b) Transparency and Traceability: The use of NFTs enables transparent and traceable sharing of BIM models. Each NFT points to the specific location of the BIM file on the web server, ensuring that the latest version of the model is accessible to authorized parties. This transparency improves collaboration and reduces the risk of working with outdated or conflicting information.
c) Interoperability: dBIM promotes interoperability by using web server storage instead of relying on proprietary BIM platforms. Architects and designers can store and share BIM files across different platforms, enhancing collaboration and breaking down silos in the industry. The use of standardized NFTs further facilitates interoperability by providing a common reference point for accessing BIM files.
d) Resilience: Traditional BIM systems often rely on centralized servers, which are vulnerable to failures or cyber-attacks. In contrast, dBIM with web server storage and NFT minting ensures a more resilient infrastructure. BIM files are distributed across multiple web servers, reducing the risk of data loss or system downtime. The decentralized nature of the Ethereum blockchain adds an extra layer of resilience by eliminating single points of failure.
e) Innovation and Automation: By leveraging the decentralized infrastructure of dBIM, computational agents can participate in the creation and simulation of BIM models. Smart contracts on the Ethereum blockchain can enable automated processes, such as validating design constraints or performing energy simulations. This opens up possibilities for advanced design optimization and artificial intelligence-driven analysis within the AEC industry.
- CONCLUSION Decentralized BIM (dBIM), pioneered by Arcartera, offers a compelling alternative to traditional BIM systems by leveraging the Ethereum blockchain and web server storage. By minting NFTs for BIM files, architects and designers can store and share their models in a transparent, traceable, and decentralized manner. The adoption of dBIM with NFT minting enhances data ownership, transparency, interoperability, resilience, and opens doors to innovation within the AEC industry. As the industry continues to evolve, dBIM presents a promising path towards a more collaborative and efficient future for Building Information Modelling.