Manhole or access covers present their owners with a dilemma: You can’t lock them, because the locks would clog with dirt, preventing utility workers from opening them to inspect the sewers or maintain the telecommunications networks they cover.
If you don’t lock them, though, they can be stolen. That’s a costly problem in itself (believe it or not, these dumb hunks of cast iron can cost upwards of $150 each) but if someone falls in the hole before the cover is replaced, the cost of liability is potentially even greater.
That’s why the model smart city on Huawei Technlogies’ booth featured smart manhole covers. In addition to reporting if the covers are stolen (or removed and not replaced for some other reason), the system can warn of flooding and report other metrics concerning whatever the cover, uh, covers.