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Programme

The Weather Ledger

Using IoT and distributed ledger technology to automate the execution of weather-related clauses in standard NEC construction contracts.

Digital Catapult is providing distributed ledger technology (DLT) and internet of things (IoT) expertise and creating a framework of standards for the Weather Ledger, an Innovate UK project.

Insights and research

In support of the Weather Ledger project Digital Catapult has conducted supporting research:

  • Access the Industry Insights report here
  • Access the User Insights report here
  • The Weather Ledger programme report here

The Weather Ledger project

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.

This 12-month project will develop and demonstrate a real-world 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 immutable shared data is both transparent and auditable. Automation of contract clauses based on this trusted shared data will save time and reduce, or even eliminate, costly and wasteful disputes.

The Weather Ledger is exploring the applicability of this model, including the user experience it would provide.

  • Simple governance rules, no GDPR-sensitive data, no sensitive company data
  • Verification replaces trust, through visible smart contract execution, immutable data and total auditability
  • Simultaneous smart contract execution by all stakeholders, according to the weather data collected by IoT devices, enabling rapid alerts and swift allocation of compensation

It is hoped that this project will set a precedent for further application of distributed systems in the construction industry

  • Time can be better used for tasks that will help projects to complete more effectively and on time
  • Lowering the risk of dispute will enable better collaboration within the industry
  • Better data in general could help with more effective scheduling, to improve project delivery times
  • This data may be used to add value for other industries

Product development will be undertaken with participation from all partners, maximising the value of available expertise. Testing and iteration will be subject to detailed feedback from construction staff, on-site and office-based.

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.
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.

Other project outputs

As well as working alongside the EHAB team during the product development phase, Digital Catapult is creating documentation in relation to innovation in construction, with a specific focus on distributed ledger technology and smart contracts. This will involve detailed mapping of the process and the technology potential, providing a reference for others to learn about collaborative and lean development methodologies for technological solution creation.

When complete, this literature will show how collaborative development processes can result in significant value for all parties involved, and highlight the usefulness of DLT in specific cases within construction, showing how it can add value in terms of commercial outcomes.

Construction Industry Standards (CIS) are also being extablished, for use by the ISO and BSI in relation to the application and operation of DLT and smart contracts in construction. These standards can also act as a template and framework for other smart contracts in future.

Digital Catapult will also be supporting the creation of a commercial strategy, to help transition the project from research and piloting to a secure commercial basis.