NSW government clamps down on apartment building defects using blockchain and AI

The Office of the NSW Building Commissioner is developing a solution to help track a building's provenance.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Apartment building defects are not uncommon these days, but the NSW government has been developing new solutions using AI and blockchain to crackdown on this.

Speaking at the 2021 digital.NSW event, Office of the NSW Building Commissioner digital director Yin Man explained how the state government has worked with KPMG, Microsoft, Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), Western Sydney University, and Mirvac to build what is being referred to as a trustworthy index, within the state government's building assurance solution.

The solution, based on ASX's blockchain technology, has been designed to track a building's provenance -- from the materials that are used, the drawings of the building, and people involved in the construction -- to enable the building industry, current and prospective owners, regulators, and insurers to compare and assess the trustworthiness of different buildings.

"You, as a consumer, can now see one building differentiated from another and that helps the insurance companies and the financiers as well, because at the moment, they do not want to be in the market because all the buildings look the same to them, everybody has an occupation certificate, but why are some buildings still defective as we find in our audits, and some are not," Man said.

According to Man, the trustworthy index will be piloted for the next six months with a brand new Mirvac building, along with over 200 buildings where combustible cladding is being replaced.

"This will allow us to actually combine three things. It combines the certification process, but we've got an assurance framework that sits behind this, which looks at who has provided that evidence, what evidence, and against what standard," she said.

"It is almost like a 3D model itself … we've mapped out all the critical elements that make up a building, and now we've got a network of nodes that if you take one node -- or actually look at the weakness of one node -- you can actually see the ripple effects on the rest of the building. You can actually see the fault lines now of a potential building, and we collect this information as the building is being built.

"It will also at the end allow you, if there are issues with material in the past, to actually just click a button say, 'Where does this material sit in all the buildings within New South Wales?'"

Additionally, the NSW government has implemented an AI-based "digital worker" to scan and extract information to help validate people who are working on building sites.

"We've got a new licensing New South Wales register [and] we wanted to make sure that the people working is actually registered and validated at the point of the time they're actually nominated to actually work on the project," Man said.

"So, we're actually getting in front now of some of the issues that we're finding with dodgy players working on dodgy sites … we're actually now finding out at the beginning of the design stages, and that's feeding into licensing and the whole process of potentially suspending practitioners."


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