Appleton Innovations
6 min readFeb 25, 2022


Manhole Intrusion Detection System using Internet of Things (IoT)


Manholes are openings to confined underground areas that are used to access the critical underground infrastructure and the utilities such as water, sewer systems, electricity and telecommunication networks. They are generally installed in the underground spaces for the purpose of maintenance and inspection. When dignitaries or high-profile individuals visit cities, the municipal crews often weld manholes shut in locations to ensure safety, this really helps in saving thousands of dollars when they need to be welded and then cut open again. Recent incidents in many countries show that metal theft (used for manhole cover / copper cable under it) has really increased to a very higher level and became a societal issue. This unauthorized opening and theft and vandalism cases can cause deadly fall-in incidents to the people and will cause a huge amount of damage to the public property. For the metal theft, the thieves may gain an amount from the scrap yards but it really causes dollars of damage to the services, power and telco networks and especially the citizens. Besides the physical damages done by some people, critical infrastructure such as telecommunication networks are also vulnerable to these attacks due to which they incur huge losses. Appropriate design of an intrusion detection system is needed to safeguard the critical infrastructure from theft and demolition. The intrusion and detection system gives us the ability for detection of authorized and unauthorized opening of manholes so we can manage response information. Intrusion detection systems should be made in such a way that it provides real-time monitoring and notifications about the manhole’s status, and timely response is one of the most important factors that should be fulfilled. With the advancement of technology, we need a fully automated manhole intrusion detection system for part of development of smart cities and IoT are tools by which we can be control and monitor the assets in those cities.


· Detection of the manhole status of the manhole cover

· Easy for installation and maintenance, offers wireless communication

· Real-time monitoring

· Provides notifications through alert messages, push messages

· Report, Predict and Optimization of manholes

· Instant alarm notification


The huge rise in theft cases of copper cable has really caused the increase in demand and prices of copper in the black market. The past studies show that a loss worth of several million dollars was incurred by a major telecommunication company due to copper theft and vandalism. In the smart cities also, there is higher displaced, stolen or damaged manhole lids and these in turn causes accidents when pedestrians and motorists fall into the uncovered holes. The existing systems in some countries notified half way but due to these criminals would have destructed the manhole and gained access to the underground cables and caused huge damage. One of the most highly talked incidents in regards with the improper manhole intrusion detection is the Metcalf attack. On 16th of April, 2013 intruders lifted the heavy cover of a telecom underground utility vault near the Metcalf power substation just south of San Jose, CA. They cut the fiber optic telecom cables in the vault due to which the communications around the areas were completely disrupted, again they also destroyed the second vault nearby and cut the rest telecom cables. This attack caused leakage of 52000 gallons of cooling oil, disabled 17 transformers, a full blackout in some portions of Silicon Valley and it was again online by some power re-routing and conservation

Companies which deal in Manhole Intrusion detection systems:

· CEL Solutions: CM-6100 systems are part of the FiberStrike suite of fiber optic sensing systems made by Cleveland Electric Laboratories (CEL), in Tempe, AZ, which have been deployed both domestically and internationally. FiberStrike sensing systems use light (not electricity) to sense position or movement, and system attributes address all of the criteria listed above. An LCM-6100 system for monitoring manhole or vault covers consists of LCM-610 sensors, LCM-2600 monitoring equipment at a remote location, optical fiber that links the sensors with the monitoring equipment, processing software, and a graphic user interface that is intuitive and easily used without requiring extensive training.

· WIIHEY: Deploys real-time monitoring and protection against metal theft, vandalism, and unauthorized access of manholes. The product utilizes a range of commercially available, off-the-shelf sensors to detect and prevent manhole related incidents. Signals are transmitted from the sensor device to a cloud platform via LPWAN (Low Power Wide Area Network) technologies, such as GPRS, NB-IoT, SigFox, etc. The sensors in combination with the cloud-based dashboard will allow you to monitor and well plan the maintenance of manholes.

· GEMTEK: Detects if the manhole cover is being tampered or tilted up. It protects against theft of the metal cover and/or the valuable assets down. Communicates with the IoT AP/Gateway using a LoRaWAN protocol standard for long range wide area (LPWAN) deployments. Integrates a 3-axis G-sensor and a temperature sensor. The detector reports battery level together with the other sensors data. It also sends a periodical keep-alive update message.

· Smart Cover Systems: gathers and analyzes sewer flow data. When suspicious changes are detected, public works is informed of any intake point. Over time, data from specific hotspots is used to detect unusual surges, indicating a large discharge into the sewer system. Time stamped data is tracked and used to investigate illegal entry and dumping into a collection system, saving millions of dollars in resources. The feature addresses a wide range of remote entry detection requirements across a variety of industries including electric utilities, fiber optic vaults, nuclear facilities, border perimeter security, transportation infrastructure, military installations as well as commercial, construction and industrial sites. Alarms for manholes, utility vaults, and other lid-accessed spaces can be established as a stand-alone intrusion detection system for added security, especially for distant and remotely located infrastructure assets.



Ø· NodeMCU

· Vibration sensor

· Current sensor

· PIR sensor

· Ultrasonic sensor

· Breadboard

· Jumper wires

· USB cable


· Arduino IDE

· ThingSpeak

Real-Time Implementation:

Block Diagram:


· We have used Vibration sensor for detection of the tampering of the lid.

· We have used Current sensor for detection if any current cable has been cut off.

· We have used PIR sensor for human detection i.e, if any human has entered into the manhole.

· We have used Ultrasonic sensor for measurement of distance between the sensor placed and the lid.

Dashboard of ThingSpeak:

Twilio API


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