Perspectives of a civil engineer and a lawyer. The first worked for over 15 years as Project Manager in France, Luxembourg, Italy and Tunisia and today offers solutions for management of building technical data during their entire life cycle (BIM-Y). The second has been active in the real estate and new technologies sectors as Avocat à la Cour for over 11 years with the law firm of DSM Avocats à la Cour.

Mr. Marié, can you present the shared folder mechanism that is used by all of the various operators in the construction sector?

Jean-Yves Marié: The BIM is a cross-cutting process. The 3D model and the data associated therewith are updated and enriched as the building construction project advances and is used. This process automatically saves each modification in a transparent manner for the project owner (maître d’ouvrage or MOA) and allows a simpler and faster exchange of data.

Mr. Le Squeren, what sorts of legal issues does that raise for you?

Renaud LE SQUEREN: The subsequent use of technical data (models, plans, designs, etc.) raises the issue of intellectual property and its transfer (particularly when the building is later resold), but also that of the extension of the duration of the liability of the creators of those documents: what happens in case of harm resulting from incorrect transcription of the reality in the plans, for example? The transfer of the ownership of that technical data should thus be contractually regulated, then the sharing and duration of the subsequent liability of the authors or owners. To further secure later users, it would be possible to register the technical data in a blockchain, making sure to delete potential personal data to avoid GDPR problems (particularly with respect to the absence of the right to erasure in a blockchain).

How can a shared folder be used with respect to insurance premiums?

JYM: Use of the data allows the creation of security scoring in real time during the entire life of a building, according to the equipment installed, its inspection and maintenance.

RLS: Compilation of technical data will allow for an economy of scale during later works, thus a reduction of the costs in case of an insured loss (particularly with respect to studies and analyses). However, such a result involves high quality technical data, such that it is totally possible that insurance companies would demand to participate in the preparation of the specifications for the establishment of the technical data in exchange for premium reductions. Thus, insurance companies should be contractually linked as soon as possible.

Who is the owner of the data? How should it be used?

JYM: The MOA remains the owner of the data belonging to his/her/its building. However, if we want to exploit to the maximum the potential that artificial intelligence (AI) can contribute with respect to predictive maintenance and assistance with decision making, it is essential to be able to use the data of thousands, even tens of thousands of buildings, and thus create a collective intelligence that benefits all stakeholders in the life cycle of a building.

RLS: Certain works of art, such as models or certain plans, can be protected by copyright and by virtue of that fact belong to their author and not to the MOA. Thus, it is necessary to contractually regulate the transfer of ownership of these works between the initial authors and the MOA, and then to the benefit of successive acquirers. The new databases created by AI belong to the owners and/or developers of the AI system that is going to compile them. Liability will follow suit. Then, obviously the issue of the limits of the liability contractually set by the AI creators is raised, for example for a self-driving car. Ultimately, it seems logic that such liability remains in any event with the developer, even after the sale. From this perspective, extension of the legal liability equal to that for the duration of use seems the most reasonable path.

How do you perceive the contribution of new technologies to the construction sector, a sector deemed less dynamic with respect to innovation than other industries?

JYM: Building is a central element in all industries (manufacturing, hospitality, commercial or tertiary). At the end of the day, construction should meet its customers’ needs, particularly with respect to environmental liability, integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the optimisation of costs. The big groups must be motors of innovation and support SMEs and artisans in this digital transformation.

RLS: Real estate is a flagship sector in worldwide technological innovation, particularly in its effort to offer complementary services to users (domotics, automatisation of tasks, workplace security, building site follow-up, virtualisation of plans, 3D and 4D models, etc.), but also for professionals (management of common fees automated for property management companies, sales platforms for real estate agents, etc.). Luxembourg real estate could become a testing ground for worldwide innovations, thanks to the high added value of the buildings that are constructed here.

For you, what are the next developments and what are the other relevant contributions of technology to the construction world?

JYM: Today, the most successful start-ups are generally turned towards real estate development, which, at the end of the day, uses BIM only very little. However, with the massive arrival of the IoT, the development of the industrialisation of construction and the appearance of sales platforms for used construction materials and equipment, construction still has several challenges to overcome.