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Denis Scott

Utilising Smart Contracts and Blockchain Technology for Infrastructure Industry Transformation

Research supervisors: Professor Tim Broyd; Dr Ling Ma
Start date: December 2019

The UK Government industrial strategy publication, titled Construction 2025 stipulates global construction market growth of 70% by 2025, with the combative strategy of achieving 33% lower costs, 50% faster delivery, 50% lower emissions, and 50% improvement in exports. Innovations such as Building Information Management (BIM) and blockchain technology are suitable candidates for advancing the frontiers of the infrastructure industry, both with transformative abilities to revolutionise how information is managed, generated, and exchanged. Blockchain technology (a branch of Distributed Ledger Technology), offers logbook immutability, transaction transparency, and contract automation. Trust between untrusting participants is achieved through the consensus algorithm, which is responsible for systematically timestamping and storing blocks of data to the distributed ledger. Utilising blockchain bypasses the reliance of using trusted third parties, allowing transactions to occur atomically without the necessity for costly intermediaries. The boundaries of blockchain are expanded with the involvement of smart contracts, which are self-executing digital contracts translated in computer code. BIM addresses all of the targets outlined in the Construction 2025 document, while blockchain addresses three problems stipulated in Construction 2025; such lower cost, faster delivery, and improvement in exports. Both technologies are maturing with various gradations; although, with coupling potential to streamline construction processes. My research will firstly focus on smart contracts as a combative attempt to reduce late and unfair payments within the infrastructure industry; using a blockchain to accelerate payments and accounting, while simultaneously empowering equality through transactional transparency and traceability.