Climate change is making it increasingly difficult to predict weather patterns. Combined with the general increase in more extreme weather, this has made planning and operations more difficult for the construction industry, impacting on weather-related contract disputes, the costs of which can run into billions globally each year.
The Weather Ledger is a 12-month project which will develop and demonstrate a real-world Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) solution for automated evidence collection, information exchange, and contract administration relating to adverse weather events at two real-world construction sites.
Using Internet of Things devices (IoT) on-site, construction companies can collect accurate and highly localised weather information. This feeds into smart contracts running on a distributed ledger shared by all parties to a worksite. This shared data is both transparent and auditable. Automation of contract clauses based on this trusted shared data will save time and will at bare minimum reduce, if not eliminate, costly and wasteful disputes.
It is hoped that this project will set a precedent for further application of distributed systems in the construction industry. The Weather Ledger is exploring the applicability of this model, including the user experience it would provide.
Simultaneous smart contract execution by all stakeholders, according to the weather data collected by IoT devices, enables rapid alerts and swift allocation of compensation. Lowering the risk of dispute will enable better collaboration within the industry and time can be better used for tasks that will help projects to complete more effectively and on time.
IoT devices used on a construction site are still novel, and for them to be used to collect weather data and then for the data to be used for smart contracts is entirely new and innovative. Better data in general could help with more effective scheduling, to improve project delivery times.
Smart contracts and ‘legal engineering’ are both highly exciting emerging fields. The Weather Ledger is a world first in commercially applicable smart contract technology, and certainly a first for construction. Smart contracts are intended to automate the burdensome administrative work associated with disputes, which should also reduce any friction which would otherwise arise between parties. Smart contracting frees up legal experts to address more complex issues.
Although this use case is for new engineering contract (NEC) weather clauses, it could be applied to any type of procedural legal contract clause, even an insurance policy.
Ferrovial, Clyde&Co, Digital Catapult, EHAB, Connected Places Catapult