Safety Upgrades Needed to Manhole Covers After Toddler Falls

In October, 2009, a toddler went missing from her home in Auckland, New Zealand. Originally believed to be a kidnapping, it was later discovered that the young girl had fallen into a manhole and did not survive. It was determined that she had fallen into the manhole after the cover had been displaced following heavy rain.

Manhole Cover Safety Upgrades

This heartbreaking sequence of events led to the need for several changes, to ensure that no other accidents could occur as a result of manhole safety throughout the district. The coroner who conducted the inquest into the child’s death urged councils to check, secure, and fix manholes in a proactive manner. Previously, New Zealand had no safety standards relating to displaced manhole covers, and the only way that covers would be replaced or repaired was through a complaints registration process initiated by civilians.

The tragic accident led to a massive, yet necessary, project of fitting safety devices to all manholes in the area. It was clear that the task would be expensive and challenging to orchestrate, but it was also evident that necessary steps needed to be taken in order to prevent future tragedies.

Manhole Safety Grille Project

The end result of the project was to fit all manholes with bolt-down covers, as well as a manhole safety grille beneath the cover that would act as a stainless steel safety net if ever someone was to fall in.

Watercare, the utility company in New Zealand that was put in charge of the monumental task, sought out two contractors to undertake the expansive project.The task would require the inspection, installation, and quality assurance of 15,000 manholes across the Auckland Region.

Real-Time Mobile Data Collection Solution

In order to successfully complete the task at hand, Watercare needed a solution that would allow for real-time data collection from the field that could be collected, stored and accessed on a centralized system. The intention was to provide Watercare with the ability for third-party contractor monitoring and the progress of the project, as if they were alongside the contractors in the field. Additionally, after manholes were inspected and installed, the tool needed to be able to communicate data from the field, and installation progress with an accurate GPS location to a quality assurance team that would follow behind and ensure installations met the necessary requirements.

Watercare sought a solution that would provide them with this functionality to equip an effective mobile workforceand settled upon Arcsset, a mobile data collection tool from Nektar Data Systems that was the only product to meet all the requirements of their desired system.

Confirmation of Accountability and Asset Management

The project began by importing individual manholes from ESRI with GIS locations, which were then identified as individual assets within the Arcsset system. These locations were used to provide directions to the manholes where the contractors would perform inspections and installations. The system was used to collect the data of the tasks performed throughout the inspection and installation processes to each individual manhole. Important information such as safety issues at the site, like whether gas was detected, pictures of the manhole before and after installation, condition of the manhole, and other valuable data were all collected by field workers, which was then immediately viewable by Watercare. Additionally, information collected in the field would be communicated to the quality assurance team, along with GPS location, guiding them directly to the manhole on their phones or tablets.

The real-time nature of the system allowed for immediate confirmation of accountability that the work was being completed, and that it was being performed in the proper manner by the correct people in the right location. The Arcsset tool also allowed for field teams to perform all their work from the field without the need to re-enter data from paper-based data to electronic format on a computer. Elements such as photo capture provided Watercare with a comprehensive view of the health of each asset and the progress of the project as a whole.

As a forward-looking company, Watercare also identified the benefit of being able to retrieve historical data in the field. Even after the project has been completed, if someone is standing next to a manhole in the future and if they have user permission, they will be able to pull up all the task history that had been recorded to the individual asset. This will provide Watercare with valuable information about the type and timing of work completed in the past, as well as the physical location of all assets throughout the area.

This extensive project required a robust system to track the thousands of manholes that needed to be assessed and upgraded in order to avoid another tragic accident. Arcsset provided Watercare and its contractors with the visibility, traceability, and functionality needed to ensure that the tasks were completed on time and on-budget, improving public safety throughout the region.