UK Weather Ledger Reduces Risk of Construction Disputes

Bad weather can, and does, often frustrate and delay construction projects. In some cases, it can also lead to expensive contractual disputes. Responsibility for additional costs due to unexpected storms, heavy rain or high winds is a constant, and sometimes volatile, issue.

As climate change makes weather more difficult to predict, better systems for responding to weather risks during building projects are required. This is why Connecting Spaces Catapult has supported the Weather Ledger product from start-up business, EHAB. It uses the Internet of Things (IoT), Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and Smart Contracts to provide;

  • weather risk analysis to help plan projects,
  • hyper-local weather forecasting and,
  • part automation of weather related disputes.

The proposed hardware and software suites promise a major step forward in reducing construction industry conflict. These currently often hinge on differing interpretations of weather data after the event. The Weather Ledger intervenes with independent objective real-time information.

Resolving Construction Weather Disputes in Near Real Time

EHAB’s risk management platform is a wholly independent ‘source of truth’ when it comes to weather conditions. By using IoT connected sensors and ledger technology, it can record and share highly accurate data from construction sites. This helps early resolution of disputes by driving the following.

  • Greater contractor transparency
  • Increased likelihood of owner and contractor compromise
  • Quicker contract-mandated resolution

The Weather Ledger creates semi-automated, multi-party, legally binding clauses derived from Smart Contract language. This can run, in whole or in part, without human intervention all. Resolving weather disputes in near real time can even include the immediate award of agreed contractor compensation.

Supporting Better Weather Risk Management

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) notes poor risk management as one of the biggest factors limiting profit margins in the construction industry. Today’s New Engineering Contract (NEC) standard agreements contain very general provisions for weather events occuring, on average, less frequently than once in ten years. Their claims resolution process is limited in detail referring to a spirit of mutual trust and cooperation. The Weather Ledger provides greater support through weather recording stations, desktop analysis tools and a mobile phone app. These combine to link accurate forecasts with IoT data and project plans to notify parties when agreed compensation levels are triggered. Real-time automation and transparency reduce the risk of later conflict and dispute.

Research into the Weather Ledger included user insights led by our project partners Digital Catapult in collaboration with BAM Nuttall, Ferrovial Corporation UK and Clyde & Co. Innovate UK funding supported problem definition, solution design, smart contract design, standards design and development of the solution from its prototype stage through minimum viable product development to its current state as Enterprise Level software.

After the trial, onsite construction teams reported the convenience of an accurate weather app was of value. Confidence in the data was high amongst users and time spent reviewing other forecasts was significantly reduced. There remains, however, a barrier in the form of mistrust or inexperience with the Internet of Things (IoT) and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) solutions amongst established members of the construction industry. More real-life Compensation Event piloting with clients is a clear next step.

The Weather Ledger is one example of the Connecting Spaces Catapult’s future product development work. You can download more information on it here or read about our other work here.