GPS Tracking for… Manhole Covers?

Image result for beijing street

Who knew manhole covers were so popular? In the United States manhole theft might sound like a weird problem, but in China it’s a real issue some of the country’s biggest cities are working hard to address, and they’re doing so using GPS tracking.

Every year, tens-of-thousands of manhole covers are stolen. In fact, Beijing city officials estimate as many as 240,000 were stolen in a single year. And, it’s more than just an expensive nuisance to replace the covers, it’s a legitimate safety concern–people have actually died falling into open manholes–including a few toddlers.

The booming scrap metal business in China fuels the problem, and they’ve tried a number of solutions, like using nets and chaining covers to lights. One city is thinking outside the box and attaching GPS tracking devices inside “smart manhole covers.”

“When a cover is moved and the tilt angle is greater than 15 degrees, the tag will send an alarm signal to us,” Tao Xiaomin, an urban management official explained. Then, authorities can use a “digital positioning system” to track the stolen cover down.