Australia’s Construction Industry Warned to “Use Blockchain” After Miami Building Collapse

July 24, 2021, 9:45 AM AEST - 2 months ago

Last month, a 12-storey apartment building collapsed in Miami, Florida, leaving more than 90 people dead and 11 injured. Dr Duncan Maxwell, a researcher at Australia’s Monash University, says next-generation technologies like blockchain can help avoid these types of disasters in the construction industry.

Maxwell, an expert on modern construction methods at the Melbourne-based institution, says that distributed ledger technology, virtual design and onsite drones are powerful tools that can keep track of a building’s structural state.

The central issue, according to Maxwell, is poor or non-existent records that make it hard to identify structural issues in the design and construction stage. Without reliable records, building managers have fewer tools to keep buildings safe and well maintained. These technologies can also alert managers to detect structural issues for existing buildings as well as those under construction.

Concerns Over Structural Issues in Coastal Australia

The collapse of the Champlain Towers South block in Surfside, Miami has raised concerns over the structural design of buildings and their maintenance, especially in coastal areas of Australia. Maxwell is worried that building conditions in those areas will become more challenging as extreme weather events increase in frequency as a result of climate change. 

Australia has a lot of buildings in coastal environments and many of them are of a similar age [to the Miami building] and built in the 1980s.

Dr Duncan Maxwell, Monash University

Blockchain-Enabled Construction Methods Add Transparency 

Srinath Perera, director of Western Sydney University’s Centre for Smart Modern Construction, says blockchain technology can add transparency to the construction industry by keeping track of every event. “It’s almost impossible to fool,” Perera says.

Use Cases of Blockchain in Australia

Blockchain has been used in Australia before to create eco-friendly apartment complexes. Perera says blockchain can help facilitate the construction industry’s complicated supply chains system.

This is why the WSU Centre has been working on a blockchain-enabled system where each payment is recorded through multiple computers rather than kept in a centralised location, and if a payment is missed the system won’t be able to proceed. Building clients unknowingly pick up interest on delayed payments as construction companies add around 20 percent to construction costs to finance unexpected delays.

Implementing blockchain supply chain solutions enables more transparent and accurate end-to-end tracking. This way, companies can digitise physical assets and create immutable records of transactions in a decentralised manner.

As Crypto News Australia reported last year, blockchain also has a space in the agriculture sector as more companies tap into supply chain solutions. Even the Aussie mango industry can benefit from blockchain.

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