Foundation laid for national building industry database

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Foundation laid for national building industry database

And maybe even a national building blockchain.

Yesterday’s meeting of Australia’s Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) agreed to implement a raft of reforms that include major technology platforms to support the industry.

The Forum agreed to “support a national framework to address the issues identified in the Shergold Weir Building Confidence report.”

And that report (pdf) includes a recommendation titled “Collecting and sharing data and intelligence” that calls for “each [State and Territory] jurisdiction to establish a building information database that provides a centralised source of building design and construction documentation.”

The report was created in part to address the issue of flammable cladding on apartment buildings, and the difficulty involved in figuring out which sites used the dangerous materials.

It therefore calls for the creation of that data source because “it is frequently difficult to access all the relevant documents about the construction of a building, especially when the building has been sold.”

“It is imperative that jurisdictions collaborate with a view to ensuring that their central database enables intelligence sharing,” the report adds.

“This will inform each other’s compliance and enforcement activities and the work of the BMF.

"At a minimum, there needs to be agreement on the key data points that are congruent across all jurisdictions and upon which reliable information can be shared.”

The report also suggests that a common platform might be a fine idea, and that the BMF consider blockchain to make the databases immutable.

“To implement this recommendation, further work could usefully be undertaken by the BMF to identify the most appropriate technology to interface with each jurisdiction’s data platforms," the report said.

"Emerging technologies, such as blockchain, should be considered for suitability. Potentially, it might provide a virtual ledger of all regulatory ‘transactions’ in a verifiable and auditable format.”

Shergold Weir also recommended that “jurisdictions should collaborate with each other on these projects."

"They need to reach agreement on the types of information collected so that it can be readily shared and analysed on a national basis in order to inform regulatory activity and the work of the BMF," it said.

Before you forward this story to any blockchain startups or salespeople of your acquaintance, know that these platforms won’t emerge any time soon.

The Shergold Weir report was published in February 2018 and was only agreed to yesterday (July 18) and there’s no firm roadmap to implement its recommendations.

The report suggests the following data points should be collected for the proposed databases:

  • the name of the appointed building surveyor or issuing authority;
  • a description of the proposed building work;
  • details of all practitioners engaged;
  • details of design certificates relied on and any information about third party review;
  • details of any performance solutions and any information about third party review;
  • inspection records;
  • enforcement actions taken;
  • final approval information, including details of certificates relied on and fire safety maintenance requirements and any design assumptions that must be maintained or considered in future changes to the building; and
  • details of compliance inspections/certificates issued in relation to ongoing maintenance obligations through the life of the building
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