Open Access

Protecting the intellectual property of built environment designs using blockchain technology


Digital design and modelling for construction assets was an important step towards improving the construction process overall by improving its efficiency and productivity, reducing the time needed for design editing and rework. However, digital forms of designs are prone to cyber threats and misuse by unauthorised authors. This is a common problem in different industries wherein digital asset management is inefficient due to its centralisation and depends on humans following a certain procedure. Blockchain is an emerging technology capable of transferring digitally produced information into a transferable digital value by storing the information or an identifying signature for the information on a blockchain ledger. Information on the blockchain ledger is immutable and stored in a decentralised system, making it a permanent record. This article investigates the possibility of protecting the intellectual property of built environment designs using blockchain technology. The article presents a solution for generating a double-fingerprint identity for the Industry Foundation Classes (IFC), a common format for built environment design exchange, followed by deployment of a smart contract on the Ethereum public blockchain to store the design fingerprint along with design meta-data, such as information about the the owner and version, as a non-fungible token, a unique asset format stored on a blockchain ledger.

Publication timeframe:
Volume Open
Journal Subjects:
Engineering, Introductions and Overviews, other