At Cannes Lions 2023, TVS Motor Company’s campaign The Responsible Manhole, made by Dentsu Creative — an innovative initiative to prevent deaths due to submerged open manholes in the city of Mumbai — was shortlisted under the category – Brand Experience and Activation (culture and context).

businessline checked out how this intervention is faring. It all began when TVS Motor Company learnt that open manholes in cities like Mumbai claim a life every 12 hours. They pose a great risk to riders due to chronic waterlogging during the monsoons caused by poor drainage. Of the 3,60,000 manholes in the city — while some are left open by the locals for the rainwater to escape — many manhole covers are stolen. It’s a big challenge for the municipality to keep the manholes closed.

The two wheeler giant joined hands with the Mumbai Municipal Corporation to solve this problem. Leveraging technology and connectivity, an innovative, low-cost, easily scalable 3D-printed device, which costs $20 to produce, was developed along with an app.

When it rains and the manhole is dislodged, the device is pushed up by 5 feet. The LED blinker and the buzzer is triggered alerting the people to the danger in the form of audio and visual warnings. Apart from the device, an app was also developed to alert the civic authorities in real-time to fix the problem.

The responsible manhole app

The responsible manhole app

“Our intent is to make a difference and save the lives of riders during the monsoon,” Aniruddha Haldar, Senior Vice President (Marketing) – Commuters and Corporate Brand and Dealer Transformation, TVS Motor Company told businessline.

Phase 2 in works

After the first phase of the initiative, when the device was deployed across the city, there was a significant decline in casualties. Phase 2 of the programme now moves to Bengaluru.

“We are in the process of initiating phase 2 of this initiative and 200 devices will be installed in Bengaluru. Furthermore, this technology is being made open-source to leading technology institutes in India so that further development can happen,” said Haldar.

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 in the city. The device’s blueprint has also been made available to civic bodies worldwide for any municipality to use.