We created an innovative warning device to make India’s streets safer.
Open manholes in Indian coastal cities like Mumbai take a life every 12 hours. Hidden under waterlogged streets, these turn into death traps for many of the city’s bikers and two-wheeler riders. The city receives heavy rainfall and high tides that lead to loss of life and property. The risk of floods is further aggravated by heavy summer rains along with rampant urbanisation.
The waterlogging is a result of a 150-year-old drainage system with no proper drainage of rainwater run-off. Of the 360,000 manholes in the city - while some are left open by the locals for the rainwater to escape, many manhole covers are stolen. Added to this, corrosion makes it impossible for the municipality to individually lock them.
TVS, India’s third largest two-wheeler manufacturer and the Mumbai Municipal Corporation collaborated to make the city’s streets safer for its riders. An innovative, low-cost, easily scalable 3D-printed device was developed.
Using the simple principle of buoyancy, the device is pushed up by up to 5 feet when a manhole cover is dislodged on a flooded street. LED lights and a loud buzzer alerts people to the danger in the form of audio and visual warnings.
A specially designed mobile app connected to the device alerts the municipality in real-time about the geo-location of the open manhole so that they can take prompt action.
After the first phase of the initiative, there was a significant decline in casualties owing to the Mumbai municipality’s deployment of the device across the city.
Phase 2 of the Responsible Manhole has already been initiated by the Bengaluru municipality and they will deploy these devices in over 200 locations. A LIVE session was held at IIT Jodhpur- where India’s top engineering students learnt about the development of this device. The project’s success has also opened conversations with other municipalities including Chennai, Kolkata, Bhubaneswar and Guwahati.
In December 2022, the Mumbai High Court ordered better surveillance of manhole covers. The device’s open-source blueprint has also been made available to civic bodies worldwide for any municipality to use.