Issuu on Google+


Electricity boxes, manhole covers, painted road bumps and many other infrastructure components have been deeply integrated in our lives that we rarely notice their presence and necessity. Only when disaster strikes, whether it’s in a form of a malfunctioning train barrier or a missing manhole cover, only then we start to acknowledge the necessity of such components.

This report provides a study on public facility thefts, focusing on manhole covers theft in Egypt. The research investigates the problem holistically and analyses the sustainability of the current adopted solutions. The agenda focuses on two main aspects; Commodity Design and Theft Behaviour. And explores a new approach called ‘Design for Behaviour Change’ The aim of the research is to answer two questions. How can a change in a commodity design influence behaviours? How can the behaviours of a community be influenced?


An average of 1200 manhole covers are stolen on a monthly basis in Alexandria, one of the major cities in Egypt (Al-Fajr, 2011)

This section investigates the problem of Manhole cover theft, identifying its origin and consequences. And discusses the methods adopted in the research.

Left: Improvised solution for a missing cover in Masai, Malaysia. 2011 Right: Missing Manhole Cover in Al-Waraq, Egypt. 2011

Philadelphia: “ 12-year-old Shamira was walking down a city street near her home when she suddenly fell into an open sewer hole ”


“ The city is

losing approx. a million pound for manhole cover thefts ”

Beijing:“Thieves stole 4000 manhole covers and sold them for scrap metal last year ” Mumbai: “A gaping hole on the road because the iron manhole cover is stolen is a common sight in the city ” Kota Kinabalu:

“ City police arrested 24 people

for stealing manhole covers from last year up to March this year ”

The phenomenon of Manhole covers theft heightened around the year 2004 when commodities such as iron soared in price, luring some people to steal the covers to be sold as scrap metal to scrap yard operators (BBC News, 2004). Manhole covers are stolen from construction sites, parks, and even main roads in some less populated areas. This did not only occur in less developed countries but was worldwide.

Manhole cover theft is a serious problem on many levels. Foremost, stealing is an inimical act that can never be excused. Stealing an article that may cause serious accidents, and in some cases deaths, endangers the safety and lives of others. It also creates a security hazard as some felons can use the infrastructure as escape passages. Moreover, the financial and labour losses caused to the municipals are tremendous.

It costs governments millions of pounds in order to replace stolen manhole covers. In Malaysia in the past 5 years the government spent almost RM 6 million to replace stolen covers (The star, 2012).

The methods adopted in this study focuses on two major points. First, studying all involved stakeholders; how they co-operate and impact the theft problem, with a focus on the government’s role and the actions taken to reduce the thefts. Second, understanding the mechanism of a society and how society based solutions are implemented.

Although the study focuses on Egypt, part of the research has been carried out in Malaysia, to be offered as a blueprint on how the issue is approached in another country. The research carried out in Malaysia identifies the governmental system and the structure of managing public facilities, precisely sanitation services. Thus the following stakeholders have been studied in Malaysia; manufacturers, government, contractors and maintenance workers. Meanwhile the research in Egypt aims to study more on society and community systems; therefore ‘cars and pedestrians’ stakeholders have been the focus of the research in Egypt.

Stakeholders Analysis


Provide designs & drawings.

Make moulds matching the design.

Order from Manufacturers. Contact contractor for installation.


Follow installation procedures.

Manufacture number of sets ordered.

Contact workers for maintenance.

During Theft

Before Theft


After Theft

Receive missing covers’ reports. Temporarily cover open manholes. Provide designs & drawings. Order from Manufacturers. Contact contractor for installation.

Manufacture number of covers ordered.

Follow installation procedures.

MAINTENANCE WORKERS Maintenance of manholes or check ups.


Report any witnessed thefts.

Report any missing manhole covers. Temporarily cover open manholes.



Stealing Manhole covers. -Loosening the cover -Looking out for police -Carrying the cover

Receiving reports of witnessed thefts.

Selling manhole cover as scrap. -Cutting manhole covers.

Receiving reports of missing covers.


Taking necessary action.

Reporting back to governing body.

Buying manhole covers from thieves.

In order to structure the research process, a ‘roles matrix’ has been made by identifying all stakeholders and analysing their roles during three different time periods; before theft, during theft and after theft.

Research Instruments

Interviews LYE Manufacturing Sdn Bhd An interview was conducted with Mr. Su Ching Huat, Production Manager of LYE Manufacturing, to gather data about the types and designs of manhole covers manufactured in Malaysia and the solutions adopted to solve the theft problem. LYE Manufacturing is a leading manufacturer and exporter specialising in Ductile Iron products. Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd To learn about the structure and drainage system in Malaysia, an interview was conducted with Mr. A. Ghani Bin Mohamed, Head Network Section in Indah Water Konsortium. Indah Water Konsortium is Malaysia's national sewerage company, a wholly owned company by the Minister of Finance Incorporated; this allowed the study of two stakeholders; maintenance workers and government. The focus of the interview was to investigate the role of the government in tackling the problem of manhole cover thefts.

Bey2ollak To study systems within a society and research about community based solutions an interview was conducted with Mr. Gamal Eldin Sadek, cofounder of bey2ollak application. Bey2ollak is a traffic application founded in Egypt that developed through its users and growing community. The application shows road statuses based on ratings entered by each user, it also allows drivers to share and report any road damages or dangers found while driving. Observation and Field Visit A field visit to Pantai Dalam was conducted with the authorization of Indah water Konsortium to observe a procedure called Manhole cover rise up. The procedure involved removing an old manhole cover and installing a new cover with an advanced locking system. The procedure was performed by contractors hired by Indah water, which offered an opportunity to research about the role of contractors as stakeholders.

Driving down the roads of Egypt one will surely notice many problems with manhole covers like installation, maintenance and replacement of missing covers. There are many cast iron industries located in Egypt that produce manhole covers and grates all year long. However, the majority of these industries only export their products to European countries and the United States, without selling them locally (“Amreya Metal�, n.d.). Solutions adopted by the Egyptian government will take years and a huge fortune to yield results. According to Osama Al-Fouly, former governor of Alexandria, the city will need 200 Million Egyptian pounds to restructure the sanitation company and improve its facilities (Al-fajr, 2011). Therefore, restructuring facilities in all cities in Egypt will require billions of pounds. Meanwhile, reports show that Egypt has ordered fibreglass covers from Mumbai for its 14 cities, including Cairo, after observing the success of using such material (Ninad, 2011).

How can a change in the commodity design influence behaviours?


Drainspotting: Tourists and local citizens in Japan started a treasure hunt for the country’s custom designed manhole covers, taking pictures of different covers and sharing them online. Remo Camerota (2010)

This section covers the design aspect; identifying the common manhole cover types, designs, materials, manufacturing process,.. etc. And showcases some examples where manhole covers are perceived as something more than just an ordinary public utility.

Many Street Artists have taken over the streets to change the way mundane daily objects are viewed and bring them back to life. Consequently, Pedestrians interact and react to these objects differently than they normally do.

6emeia project by Artists A. Augusto, and L. Delafuente. (First and Second) Street Art by Artist Aokaok Tape Art by Australian Artist Buff Dis

CASE STUDY Manhole tops are parts of a manhole consisting of a frame and a cover and/or a grating.

A Time Capsule The Shanghai Municipal Council (SMC, 工部局, literally "Works Department”) governed the former Shanghai International Settlement from 1854 – December 1941, it was wholly foreign-controlled run by the British, Americans, New Zealanders, Australians, Danes and Japanese. Neither the Chinese nor the French had a seat on the council, Chinese were not permitted seats on the council until 1928. Today, Shanghai’s manhole covers depict a lot of its most iconic historic buildings and areas. Depicting places like the Grand Theatre, the Pudong Area, the Bund, The Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Building (HSBC),..etc. The SMC covers depict a time period and carry a piece of china’s history. You can still find a very few of SMC covers in some areas in china.

Manhole covers are the moveable part(s) of a manhole top, which cover the manhole opening (utility holes or chambers that lead to an underground utility vault) Manholes are access points to these vaults, it offers easy maintenance and it connects each vault or pipeline. Manholes are not just for water pipelines or sewer but can be an access point to other utility vaults including electricity, telephone, gas and rain drains. Manhole covers prevent anyone or anything from falling inside the manhole, and keeps unauthorized people from entering the vaults. It also conceals the manhole thus preventing harmful gases created from sewer to spread in the air. Moreover, it prevents rain from entering electrical utility vaults. Sizes of Manhole covers differ according to each specifications, they are roughly as wide as a car tire, and weight –cast iron manhole covers- 63 kilos on average. According to Mr. Su Ching -production manager of LYE, cast iron manufacturer in Malaysia- there are 3 main shapes of manhole covers, circular, rectangular, and a diagonally divided rectangle that forms two separate triangular shapes. The covers have these shapes, rather than a squared one, to avoid accidental fall of the cover inside the manhole.

Designs in Malaysia

(MODEL 668) Lye Ductile Iron (S.G.) SIZE: 710x710x100mm Frame: 37.00KG Cover: 25.70KG Price: RM 243.00

(MODEL 668B) Lye Ductile Iron (S.G.) With frame and extension ring SIZE: 710x710mmx100mm

LYE Products Comparison

This design is the most widely used all over the world. The manhole top consists of two parts: a frame and a cover. The cover has two holes called pick holes where hook-like keys can be inserted to lift the cover up. Almost anything can be used to lift the cover, increasing the risks of theft. Usually two construction workers would use a pair of keys, each holding the key from its handle and lifting up the cover without bending their backs.

This manhole top is designed specifically for roads, to solve paving problems. The manhole top consists of 3 parts: manhole frame, cover and extension rings. The idea of the design is to place the manhole frame and cover when newly installed, then when the road is being paved, the worker has to add an extension ring to the frame, so that the manhole cover would match the same level of the road, eliminating the need to dig up the manhole top and raise it up. Extension rings can be ordered from the manufacturer prior to any paving procedure. The design uses the pick holed cover instead of the hinged one because of the frequent removal of the cover to place an extension ring.

Designs in Malaysia

(MODEL 670) Lye Ductile Iron (S.G.) SIZE: 840x840x100mm Frame: 40.00KG Cover: 42.10KG Price: RM 307.80

LYE Products Comparison

This model consists of 2 parts: a cover and a frame. The frame has holes along its surface to ensure the stability of the manhole set during installation; when the frame is placed on the wet cement and covered with another layer, the cement would strongly adhere to each other through the holes. The frame also has reinforcements to make the structure more durable against the heavy load of cars. The cover and the frame are connected by a bolt and nut hinge, allowing the cover to be opened in one direction with a 160-degree angle. The cover has a locking system that requires a designed key. The key is only handed to the maintenance company or governing body by the manufacturer to ensure that the key would only be used by an authorized body. It is a lot easier to open this cover since only one person is needed to use the key, to unlock and lift the cover open. The key is short, which requires the person to bend down in order to use it. However, the other hook key shown earlier can be used to open up the cover.

Worldwide Solutions

Fiberlite is a composite manhole cover. They have developed the FL7A lifting handle to easily lift the manhole cover. The lifting handle is inserted inside the locking mechanism, turned to the right, a stepper is released for the worker to step on it to lift the manhole cover. The handle is then used to pull the cover from the frame. After maintenance, the worker can push back the cover with the aid of the handle and his foot, until the cover is placed over the frame. The cover can be locked in place by jumping over it.

Fibre shield from McGard has an advanced locking mechanism that can be opened with a specific registered key that is only provided to the end user. Only one worker is required to operate the key and the process doesn’t involve any back bending. The T shaped key is inserted in the lock and turned quarter way to unlock the system. Afterwards, the key is removed and the nozzle is inverted and placed back in the lock to be threaded in the cover, the worker can then lift and pull the cover using the handle. The reverse steps are taken to put the cover back on the frame.

The self-leveling cover helps maintain the manhole in a good condition. It claims that normal manhole tops affect the manhole structure by time due to the vertically distribution of the weight and load of the cars. The design consists of three parts: outer guide frame, selfleveling frame and cover. By not placing the cover directly on the frame, the weight is then distributed horizontally avoiding transferring excess force to the manhole structure itself. The outer guide frame is installed like any normal frame, the self-leveling frame is inserted in it and the cover is placed on top. This allows the Manhole top to self-level itself, and makes it easier to install on slopes or when repaving the roads.


Ductile iron Ductile iron is the most common material used to manufacture manhole covers all over the world. It can stay for more than 50 years while attaining the same level of efficiency. Moreover, old ductile iron manhole covers can be recycled into new ones. Ductile iron has tensile strength of 500 Nmm2 which not only minimizes the risk of failure when installed, but also reduces the likelihood of breakages in transit and off loading. Composite

Composite manhole covers are made from fibreglass and polyester. On an account of it being a non-recyclable material, there is no risk of any theft cases. According to instarmac, manufacturing company in UK “The covers are made from an advanced composite structure, have no scrap value and cannot be melted down or reused, and are therefore an ideal solution to the prevailing problem.” Moreover, It comes in a variety of colours which makes it easily noticeable that it’s not cast iron, repelling thieves away. However, when asked about composite manhole covers, Mr. Su Ching said that it did not follow standards used in Malaysia, and that it doesn’t have the same strength as Ductile iron, limiting its use to sidewalks and green areas and not heavy traffic flow roads.

Gray iron Manufacturers avoid using Gray iron, explains Mr. Su Ching, due to its low tensile strength compared to ductile iron, being only 220 Nmm2. Moreover, when gray iron is mixed with magnesium to make it less subjected to corrosion, the material becomes brittle and loses its elasticity, making it more exposed to breakage. Concrete filling Concrete filled Manhole covers are made by filling galvanized iron rebars with reinforced high strength concrete. Concrete is an adequate replacement for cast iron; it’s a heavy strong cheaper material, with no recyclable value. However, it did not end theft cases, as thieves began to steal the rebar and sell it to scrap dealers at throwaway prices. Moreover, They can only be placed on high levels as for water hydrants, argued Mr. Su Ching. By time the concrete breaks down, leaving the rebar metal bare with no concrete making it unsafe for motorcyclists.

Standards & Requirements The following is an excerpt from ‘Draft Tender Specification For Ductile Iron Manhole Tops, Gully Tops And Surface Boxes For Waterworks Purposes’



809 805 802

600 840


Classification Classes of Manhole tops & place of installation Group 1

Areas only used by pedestrians and pedal cyclists

Group 2

Footways, pedestrians areas & comparable areas, car parks or car parking decks

Group 3

Carriageways of roads, hard shoulders & parking areas, for all types of road vehicles

Group 4

Areas imposing high wheel loads, e.g. docks, aircraft pavements

Group 5

Areas imposing particularly high wheel loads, e.g. aircraft pavements

All ductile Iron Manhole tops shall be designed and made in accordance with BS EN 124: 94; Including design requirements, type testing, marking, quality control. Design Requirements: 7.1 General: “When metal is used in combination with concrete or any other material, there shall be adequate bond between the two materials”. 7.3 The opening of manhole tops: designed for man entry shall comply with the safety requirements in force at the place of installation. Generally this is considered to be at least 600 mm in diameter 7.4 Depth of insertion: Manhole tops (group 3,4,5) shall have a depth of insertion of at least 50 mm


7.6 Seating: The manufacturer of manhole tops shall be such as to ensure the compatibility of their seating’s, for classes D400 to F900 these seating’s shall be manufactured in such a way as to ensure stability and quietness in use. This may be achieved by machining of the contact surfaces, use of cushioning inserts, three-point suspension design or any other appropriate method.


The process starts by making a mold, the cover design is carved into a metal mold and a 300 kg mixture of sand, glue and hardener is poured inside. A channel is created in the sand mold where the molten metal will be poured. These steps are repeated for the frame as well. A machine inverts each metal box and vibrates to shake the mold. To make one manhole set the moulds of the top and bottom sections are joined. Alignment logs and glue between the sections help align it properly and form an air tight seal. The factory buys scrap metal from demolishing sites, and also recycles its own. These metals are melted down with some minerals to enhance the mix; graphite to make it malleable, silicon to make it strong, and magnesium to make ductile iron light weight. The metal is reheated to 420째c, then transferred into a Furnace at 1500째c. After the metal hardens a conveyer drops the moulds into a container and breaks them open. The remaining sand and bits of metals that formed during the casting is knocked off, and these scraps get recycled into a new batch of iron. Next, the edges of the frame are smoothed. Finally, the strength of the cover is tested and the sets are painted by dipping them in Black tar or by using epoxy spray.

Maintenance Identifying hot areas Starting in 2008, Indah water has identified critical areas in an attempt to limit complains by sweeping all manholes and assessing its conditions, monitoring it over time. For example, monitoring one manhole to discover that it overflows 12 times a year, meaning once a month. Therefore, maintenance team is sent every 20 days to hot areas in order to overcome this problem. In Kuala Lumpur they have identified 53 hot areas.

Installation and Maintenance Indah water offers various services in maintaining a modern and efficient sewage system. They have three main departments in every operating unit; treatment plant, Pipeline, and mechanical and electric. For Kuala Lumpur unit, indah water is currently taking care of 1,180 KM of pipelines ranging sizes from 100 mm to 2,800 mm.

Missing Manhole Covers By Indah Water

Maintenance Roles The more an area is congested with commercial buildings and heavy roads the more maintenance the manholes need. Based on standards, Indah water tries to have 80 meters of pipeline in between each manhole. Maintenance is mainly done during daylight; specially pipe cleaning. For missing manholes Indah water sets a 12 hours time frame to change or replace a manhole cover. Indah water identifies missing manhole covers but cannot detect the reason behind it; as missing manholes can be caused due to thefts, removal by car, or flooding. The maintenance team would open the manhole, clean the pipelines and grease the manhole cover to make sure it can be opened the following month; because of rain and humidity the iron manhole cover might rust and harden.

Maintenance Attire

Manhole cover rise up Manhole rise up is the process of raising a manhole cover encumbered with asphalt during roads re-paving. Removing an old manhole set and replacing it with a new one would take 2 hours in a side road, and 3-4 hours in a busy road. The procedure starts with placing cones and signboards to clear the road for the process. The manhole cover road area is marked and cut by a grinder. Premix or concrete surrounding manhole cover is hacked, the old manhole cover is removed, then the manhole walls are made higher by adding another row of bricks and applying concrete. The new manhole set is installed, and the frame base is covered with concrete again and let dry. The direction of the manhole cover opening depends on the road flow, if the cars flow from the right, then the cover opens to the right as well. The next step is to lay and compact ‘cool mix’ a ready-made premix.

Some governments started solving manhole covers theft by replacing iron covers with fibreglass covers. For instance the Malaysian government acknowledges the fact that an iron cover is 3 times cheaper than fibreglass, and that metal covers would last for more than 30 years, unlike fibreglass that would only last for 10 years. However, due to the frequent theft of the metal covers, it would actually cost the government more money to replace metal covers, instead of buying new fibreglass covers every 10 years (Beh, 2008). Having said that, one may argue that this solution did not solve the theft problem itself. On contrary this solution have resulted in more critical metal theft cases; manhole covers being unavailable anymore, thieves started looking for any metal substitution hence the rise in other forms of metal theft like gates, wires and pipes (Syed, 2011).

How can the behaviours of a community be influenced and changed?


Stealing a manhole cover requires a person in his complete physical health to steal a cover weighting on average 40 kg on his own, or a group of people ranging from 2-3 persons. It also requires tools to lift the cover and a vehicle, usually a van, to transport the stolen covers. It takes on average 15 minutes to steal one cover, which increases the risk of getting caught. The thief must have a good trusting relationship with a scrap yard operator. And in return earn an amount ranging from LE 400600.

This section identifies some aspects about behaviours and theft, and explains a new design approach ‘Design for Behaviour Change’, discussing its methods and applications.

What is a behaviour? Literally

Types of Behaviours

A behaviour is any change of an entity with respect to its surroundings (Wiener, 1943). The word behaviour as defined in science, and in English language, suggests that behaviour is primarily initiated after a trigger. For instance, a driver sees a police car and remembers to put on his seat belt (authority as a trigger).

Every specific type of behaviour will require a different behaviour change model or strategy. When it comes to complex behaviours, changing only one behaviour may not be sufficient, instead one may have to tackle two or more different behaviours that are correlated in order to achieve a change.

The meaning of the word behaviour in the Arabic language adds an interesting perspective to the word. To understand the meaning of a word in Arabic, its root has to be identified, which is always the past tense verb of this word.

There are four things you can do to a behaviour (Coi, 2009): • Start a new behaviour • Stop an existing behaviour • Prevent a potential behaviour • Change or modify an existing behaviour

In Arabic, behaviour means selouk (se.louk). The root of the word selouk is ‘salaka’, which means ‘(he) chose a path’, thus the word selouk itself means ‘a chosen path’ (Ibn Manzur, 2010).

Authoritative bodies usually practice preventing a behaviour; a government may want to prevent its citizens from vandalizing a new public transport facility, or parents may want to prevent their children from eating junk food.

Besides behaviour being influenced by triggers, one behaviour can be based on or can lead to many other behaviours, as the word suggests that behaviour is a whole path to something and not just merely one act. For example, studies have shown that making your bed every morning is correlated with better productivity, a greater sense of well-being, and stronger skills at sticking with a budget. Making a bed every morning is a behaviour of choosing the path of order; hence everything aligned to this path takes place (Layard, 2005).

Behaviour Grid by BJ Fogg

Influences of Behaviours Behaviours can be influenced on many different levels. There are some factors that can change a behaviour without one’s even noticing. In social psychology most factors that influence human behaviour can be classified under 3 broad levels; personal, social and environmental. It is essential to identify factors on all 3 levels without excluding any before applying a change strategy (Coi, 2009)

Personal Factors Personal factors are all intrinsic factors that are solely based on the person committing the behaviour and not at all affected by others. Emotions Fear, happiness, sympathy are all very strong emotions that greatly influence peoples behaviours on both conscious and sub-conscious levels. It is important to note that influencing behaviours using emotions are not applicable for all behaviours and do not necessarily sustain the change in behaviour. Using fear emotion to endorse safety matters is a method highly used by many, however, Kretchne , a designer from IDEO, argues that “scar tactics can only jump start change” (2010). Self-efficacy Self-efficacy is ones belief level of the ability to successfully accomplish an action. It greatly deals with self-confidence and the perceived level of behavioural control. To tackle this issue one can simply show examples of how others accomplished changing, starting or stopping a behaviour.

Knowledge and Awareness Everyone has a different level of knowledge regarding a particular subject based on which they may take action. Rationalizing our actions is the first step to doing a behaviour, in which one would consider how can personal profits be maximized and personal costs be minimized. This is called rational choice theory. So by offering information and increasing people‘s awareness one may influence behaviours. If information and statistics that people were not aware of are provided, for example about the safety hazards of not putting on a seatbelt, the behaviour of some will be greatly influenced. However, awareness campaigns may not be sufficient for changing ones behaviour, as many other factors can override our rational mind, but it is a good starting point. Attitude Attitude is ones general way of thinking. Continuing with the seatbelt example, in some countries, some drivers might refuse to put on a seatbelt arguing that it is more dangerous to abide by the rules in a place where no one does. This is a way of thinking, an attitude, which shapes many driving behaviours. The theory of cognitive dissonance suggests that a behaviour can alter ones attitude. (festinger, 1957). The theory explains how one deals with the gap formed between ones actions and believes, drivers want to arrive home safely every day, but at the same time they don’t want to put on a seatbelt knowing that it is a safety hazard. This forms an internal conflict, followed by reducing this dissonance by either changing the behaviour into putting on a seatbelt, or providing excuses that would justify ones behaviour.

Influences of Behaviours Habit and Routine

Social proof

Habits and routines are behaviours that are frequently repeated till they become automatic. Studies have shown that habits occur because of a cue that initiates the action, and a reward that encourages the constant occurrence of the routine. Putting on a seatbelt is a behaviour that many seek to make habitual. The act of getting inside a car is habitual of itself, hence the key to start putting on a seatbelt is to understand and examine ones habits of getting inside a car and fit this new habit along. This is done by identifying the cues and rewards of the habit. (Duhigg, 2012)

Social proof is a psychological phenomenon where people assume that others know more than them. Thus if they are present within a social group they will not take an action unless someone else already did; proving it is the right thing to do.

Social Factors Social factors are influences that are driven by how other people view ones action in accordance to their beliefs, attitudes and actions. Descriptive and Injunctive Norms Social psychologist Robert Cialdini introduced two different types of social norms. Descriptive norms are comparing ones behaviour with others to determine whether ones action is acceptable or not within a group, they are ‘rules’ apposed by a group, society or community that group members abide to, fearing getting excluded from the group if otherwise. Injunctive norms, are rules, laws and regula-

tions that instruct us on how we should act. Tim Jackson gives an example of motorway driving “if other drivers around him are driving over the speed limit, he may be likely to do the same (following the descriptive not the injunctive norm). If he sees a police car up ahead, he is likely to reduce his speed; the police car performs a focusing function, making the injunctive norm salient.”

Diffusion of responsibility Diffusion of responsibility is a theory that explains why people may not take an action or feel a sense of responsibility during situations when it is most needed. It implies that people assume others have taken an action, or are more responsible. It is unlikely to happen when a person is on his own, and the diffusion would increase as the group increases. Environmental Factors Environmental factors are influences that are beyond an individual’s control, these could be local (‘exo’) environmental factors, like the region in which a person lives, local shops and facilities, or wider (‘macro’) environmental factors such as the technology or economy (Coi, 2009). Malcolm Gladwell (2000) explains the power of context, in his book ‘The Tipping Point’ and how it can influence our behaviours individually and societally, and can produce a tipping point in “spreading an epidemic”; achieving a change in behaviour or creating a trend on a global level. “We are actually powerfully influenced by our surroundings, our immediate context, and the personalities of those around us. Taking the graffiti off the walls of New York's subways turned New Yorkers into better citizens.” explains Gladwell.

Stages of Behaviour Change The Stages of change behaviour model was developed in the late 1970’s based on a study of smokers’ experience of quitting smoking. However it is used as a basic model for behaviour change, to identify and assess the phase of change and accordingly choose an applicable strategy. The model consists of six different stages that people progress from one to another with their own rate (Prochaska, 1997). 1. Pre-contemplation The individual doesn’t see the existence of a problem and has no intentions of changing any behaviour. 2. Contemplation The individual acknowledges the existence of a problem and starts intending to change but without being ready for any behaviour change. 3. Preparation The individual is preparing for a behaviour change and may have designed a plan of action. 4. Action The individual has changed his behaviour within a period of time. 5. Maintenance Although relapse may occur, but individuals should maintain their behaviour change through this stage. 6. Termination The individual has high level of confidence and believes that their behaviour is embedded and will not change.

Psychology and Stealing Although manhole cover thefts primarily began because of a need for money, one can argue that not all poor people steal, although they might be in desperate need of money but something stops them. Similarly, having money does not necessarily prevent a person from stealing. So why do people steal? Airely (2008), author of ‘Predictably Irrational’ and professor of psychology and behavioural economics, did a very interesting series of experiments about cheating and stealing. In his experiments he tried to figure out why some people justify their actions to think it’s okay to cheat and steal. He played with a lot of variables to find out how much are the average people willing to cheat, what would they cheat about and what can affect their cheating and stealing habits. His four major findings can be summarized as: • If given the opportunity a lot of people will cheat, however, they cheat just by a little bit. • When we remind them about morality, for example an honour code or a religious statement, they cheat less. • When we get bigger distance from cheating and stealing, meaning distance the act from stealing money to another object, people cheat more. • When we have a cheater or stealer from our group, or we can associate ourselves with him, we tend to follow the law of conformity and we cheat more.

Houseworth (2000) a counsellor for theft criminals has studied and written about the psychology of stealing. He examines the successful ways for changing theft behaviour, explaining several of his failed assumptions and successful models and theories. Houseworth argues that the following four methods results in a failed attempt of changing a thief’s behaviour: • Punishment does not work and often produces counter productive results. • Probation does not work and weekly checkins won’t solve the problem. • Solving a central problem that may have caused the theft action. • Education and warnings wont have a positive effect. Most crime education programs do little more than inform thieves of information they already knew. Another pattern of behaviour that Houseworth described is the Cops and Robbers Thinking; the thinking someone goes through to increase the odds they don't get caught. Common ways to follow through on Cops and Robbers Thinking is to look for locks, lights, cameras, dogs, signs, police, undercover, electronic tags etc. Houseworth adds that "If, your only reason to choose not to steal is the fear of punishment then, you will steal again". Houseworth defines a working model called ‘Dissonance Therapy’ that focuses on changing the offender’s way of thinking in order to change his behaviour. Houseworth explains, “This model would suggest that when a person experiences cognitive dissonance, either the thinking will change to match the behaviour or the behaviour will change to match the thinking.”

According to the thief’s change of mind set, his behaviour would change to the following; correcting the behaviour by stopping the stealing and maybe even return the items, or adjusting the thief’s thinking (rationalization and/or justification in an attempt to convince himself “It’s no big deal. They don’t care anyway”), or, the less likely, reframing the thief’s self image to - “I’m a thief.”

Thief Persona Based on the analysis report cases of the U.S. Department of Justice, Brandon Kooi (2010) -professor and director of the criminal justice program at Aurora University- have identified four different types of thieves and potential suspects involved in scrap metal thefts. Opportunistic thieves are thieves who are willing to take risks of stealing a cover due to the presence of the opportunity, maybe an unattended site at night, without any pre plans. They may not be seeking out metal but they have the intension of stealing something for money. According to the American police metal theft report “These opportunistic offenders are likely to be contractors, construction workers, scrap metal dealer employees, or juvenile offenders who randomly observe unsecured construction sites or vacant properties and sell valuable metals.” Drug addicts require frequent and quick access to small amounts of cash to support their drug habits, which they can easily get by selling small amounts of stolen metal to scrap metal dealers.

Organized thieves of manhole cover are usually a group of thieves, 2 or 3 with a close relationship, who plan thefts of manhole covers in large quantities. For example in one night they’d steal 20 covers from a certain neighbourhood. In some cases scrap metal dealers are the thieves as well or may encourage the behaviour. Other passive dealers might express their willingness and provide an outlet to stolen metal. Sometimes thieves will approach black market dealers to sell the stolen covers and then the black market dealers would sell to the scrap metal dealers due to a relationship of trust between the two. However, some scrap metal dealers may buy stolen covers without noticing, as some thieves cut the covers to pieces to hide any identification.

Design and Behaviour Change Design for Behaviour Change is an emerging design direction. Businesses are starting to use various models of behaviour change to alter the behaviours and habits of their customers. Governments and companies like IDEO and Frog design foresee great impact for this new direction of design. Their explorations have led to huge breakthroughs in social and communication design by changing the behaviour of societies and citizens in various scopes like health, finance, environment, transport and more. Design for Behaviour Change moves beyond User-Centered Design (UCD) creating a direct immediate impact by closely influencing behaviours. In UCD designers observe and study the users’ needs to understand users’ behaviours and come up with designs that suit their needs, which by time meant more ergonomic and easy to use products. Although this revolutionized the definition of design from only relating to aesthetics to usability as well, by time UCD started to become a muchcomplicated approach by including more users needs like emotional needs and motivations. What User-Centered Designers do is match all the puzzle pieces together to fit the status quo. On the other hand, Design for Behaviour Change questions the status quo, questions why users behave in this way, why users need this and not that. Robert Fabricant (2009) describes this new approach by labelling it “design with intent”. In one of his articles he identifies three strategies for designing for behaviour change; Persuasion Design, Catalyst Design and Performance Design.

Persuasive Design Persuasive Design might be the most popular strategy of all, heavily used by web designers. It implies an act of persuasion through design that would convince the user to change his/her behaviour. This strategy relies heavily on emotional and psychological studies that show the predictability of our decision making process. Fabricant (2009) explains “For instance, studies have shown that the average person will reduce their energy consumption by eight percent if a smiley face is included on their electrical bill to reinforce the behaviour.” Deterding (2009) provides three ways in which persuasive design can be achieved; Constrain: should limit the possible behaviour and exclude unwanted behaviours, by intentionally making it harder for the user to carry on with his behaviour. Facilitate: ease the process of changing the behaviour for the user making them concrete and lasting. Motivation: further divided into 3 subgroups: Tangential, Intrinsic and Extrinsic. Tangential: the behaviour satisfies motives not directly related to the behaviour. Intrinsic: An activity is in and of itself motivating, it is own end. Extrinsic: External incentives motivate the intended behaviour

Catalyst Design Catalyst Design involves designing a team or system to act as catalysts. The design itself includes the system in which the behaviour change would spread, designing products that will be used or spread by agents of change. Canales (2012) explains transitional objects as objects that are designed to transfer a behaviour from one phase to another. Transitional objects are not the intended end products, but products that change behaviours to suit the new proposed products. It can be anything from a social experiment, awareness campaign, and participation team to a real physical product.

Street Pong is an example of Persuasive Design, it addresses pedestrians’ frustrations while waiting for traffic lights. A concept by Sandro Engel and Holger Michel, changed the behaviour of pedestrians by engaging them with a pong match.

Performance Design Performance Design revolves mainly around empathy; the ability to experience and share another person’s feelings. It suggests designing a behavioural change through the act of performing, designing a dynamic system or experience. This can be done through designing a product or a game, but the most important focus is creating a scenario where the user will experience a change in his behaviour. An example of this would be flash mob trends that perform designed experiences.

Kevin Richardson created a catalyst system for the driving community called the Speed Lottery. It encourages obeying the speed limit by acknowledging drivers who abide by the rules by rewarding them with the money from fines paid by speeders.

Improv everywhere created a scene where people had to be nice, by placing a pedestal with a microphone and a simple instruction label saying ‘say something nice’

Nation Wide Behaviour Change Mamut (2010) an economic anthropologist, shared that behavioural change can occur even on a national scale. If three main things were addressed and provided; Tools, Rules and Norms. Mamut gave an example of how the behaviour of most Americans changed when it came to putting on a seatbelt. In order to anticipate behaviour change, firstly the tools needed to facilitate such change must be provided; seatbelts were installed in all cars. Then rules were made by authorities that confined the behaviours. Finally, social norms were created by urging the societies to “buckle up!” a term that generated and spread through out the society.




Framework For Large Scale Change By IDEO

The government deals on daily basis with regulating behaviours whether in health, transport, environment and other sectors; Governing behaviours that have high personal, social and economic costs for citizens. The government has an advantage of acquiring a set of tools that will enable it to have a greater impact on the nation. These tools are legislation, regulations and taxation, providing information, persuasion and finally engagement and working in partnership (COI, 2009).

The traffic app ‘Bey2ollak’ has over 200 thousands users in Egypt. During the interview, Mr. Sadek, cofounder of Bey2ollak, explained that the starting point of growing the whole community was highlighting a clear benefit to the users, by having some data available for the users to try out the app. The action required from the users is fairly easy; road statuses are always available, there is always someone on the road or stuck in a jam that has this information, what the application does is offer a platform to easily share these updates among other drivers. The app uses a suitable tone of communication as it uses a witty slang familiar to all Egyptians. ‘Bey2ollak’ has enabled the community’s change of behaviour by offering them the tool that allowed them to plan ahead, and a community of drivers that confirmed the social approval of using the app. The founders have succeeded in making it a habit for users to daily use the application before they leave to a destination, integrating it into their life style.

Egypt right now is going through a time where its status quo is being challenged on a regular basis, and so should design in Egypt be; a process that challenges the status quo of design itself, thus solving stubborn problems in a new way that might have been overlooked. Design is still in a developing process as well; with the emergence of terms like Open Design and Organic Design. Design has become completely different than what it was perceived 30 years ago. Sociopolitical contexts should be taken in consideration for a design to be successful within a society and fit within a culture. The political scene in Egypt right now is in a state of unrest, thus when designing products that deal with a huge amount of government involvement -e.g. road safety- a solution that approaches the government side alone may not be applicable, instead another approach may be adopted, such as society based solutions.

CONCLUSION The research conducted has offered a holistic view on the issue of public facility thefts, taking a commodity as manhole covers as a specific case study. The research has shown that the solutions adopted to solve the issue are not sustainable and contrarily might lead to bigger problems in the future. The research done in Malaysia and the data gathered from the literature review show that the solutions currently adopted to solve thentheft problem are not quite practical. Based on the data gathered replacing every single existing cover with fibreglass covers will cost a fortune; with an average cost of LE 2000 per imported cover. The government will end up paying a fortune every 10 years in comparison with ductile iron covers that would last up to 30 years and cost 3 times less than fibreglass covers, adding that iron covers can be recycled to manufacture new covers. Moreover, the replacement will not totally prevent people from stealing, as the data gathered shows that thieves will just substitute the covers with another metal object to steal. After gathering all data in Egypt it was found that the problems of manhole cover go beyond thefts, the covers are poorly installed and lack the maintenance needed to sustain the infrastructure. The increase in the number of theft cases and lack of maintenance that is occurring stems from a broken down system. The fact that we are exporting manhole covers in Egypt shows the availability of the resources needed to provide manhole covers to begin with, and the local market is clearly not

saturated as most of the covers are in poor condition or missing and need to be replaced and properly installed. One can only wonder why aren’t local authorities and communities taking action to solve such problems? Both the government and the society must work together on solving this issue, from installing and maintaining proper manhole covers to reporting any damages or stolen covers. For some a negative connotation has been developed towards the word ‘Government’ due to the corruption of some governments. However, one must not forget what a government really is, a body that consists from within the nation, who work for the betterment of the nation. To achieve faster results in assessing the radius of the problem, the society has to be involved. Similar to traffic statuses, missing manhole covers are clear information that drivers and pedestrians observe each day. Offering the community a tool to map the damages of the infrastructure will cut substantial costs and time for the government. A transparent channel of communication will allow updates and repairs to be visible for the whole community, thus restoring and developing a trustful relationship between both stakeholders.

The main issue stems from the theft behaviour itself, to begin the process of changing the theft behaviour, the behaviour should be looked from two different perspectives; society and thief. The two are correlated, as having an aware society that openly frowns upon theft will change the social influences that would affect the thief’s behaviour. This accompanies the lack of public awareness regarding the issue in general, and in consequence affects the reaction of the government. From a thief’s perspective, there isn’t enough data to explain why the thefts happen in Egypt. Is it because thieves don’t have any alternative choice to make an income other than stealing? If they were offered an alternative choice would they stop stealing or continue this behaviour because it is an ‘easier’ way of making money. Why do thieves steal public commodities, are they drug addicts, or is it an act of vandalism, or maybe as citizens thieves might justify their behaviour by saying that public commodities are theirs, hence balancing the inequality they face in their country. Thus a starting point is to carry out a Behaviour Analysis. Based on the data gathered the act of stealing has deeper irrational reasons than one might expect. All these questions must be addressed first to analyse which behaviour should the government or society try to change prior to exploring the influences of the theft behaviour. Maybe more than one behaviour has to be addressed, like the responsibilities of being a citizen or drug addiction.

The stage of change of the theft behaviour from a society point of view is still at the first stage, citizens in Egypt are not aware of the seriousness of the problem and how much money the government is spending, or one can say losing to repair the damages. Not reporting any missing manholes increases the dangers of having an open manhole cover and slows down the government from taking action. In Malaysia, a hotline number is offered to the public by Indah water and other maintenance companies to report any missing manholes. The starting point in Egypt is to increase the awareness of the society to the existence of manhole covers theft and its aftermath, and the importance of the whole manhole facility, otherwise, even when offering a line to report on, there would be little action taken by the public. This is because of cognitive dissonance, at the point of making a decision to act upon, the person would either acknowledge that the problem needs immediate action taken, or come up with excuses to lessen the gap, these excuses could be that there are far way more bigger problems in Egypt to solve, or that there would probably be no reaction from the government. That’s why the radius of the problem has to be communicated to the public. Instead of wasting valuable funds, and labour force on fixing road infrastructure that has been ruined due to accidents or vandalism, these resources would better be invested in developing other less advanced road areas, it’s a loss for all the country not just restricted to the affected area.


(2008, May 18). Rising Ripoffs, Thefts of manhole covers increase as metals prices soar. News week. The Daily Beast.

Fulmer, J. E. (2009). What in the world is infrastructure? PEI Infrastructure Investor, (July/August), 30–32.

(2010, November 12). The speed Camera Lottery. The fun Theory. Retrieved from

Gladwell, M. (2000). The tipping point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference. United States: Little Brown.

(2011, December 5). Alexandria, the city is losing a million monthly due to manhole cover thefts. El-fagr newspaper. Retrieved from (2012, March 31). 24 held for manhole cover theft. Daily express. Retrieved from (2012, May 22). Romancing the Lights. The star newspaper. Retrieved from central/11331800&sec=central (2012, December 1). Everyone’s responsibility to stop manhole cover thefts. The Star newspaper. Abd Al-ghafar, A. (2011, November 12). Manhole covers Theft in Al-Waraq. Al-youm Al sabe’ newspaper. Retrieved from Airely, D. (2008), Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions, USA: Harper Collins. Amreya Metal (2011). Retrieved from Ankov, V. (2011, June 27). Vladivostok to replace manhole covers in fight against theft. Ria Novosti. Retrived from Beh, Y.H. (2008, August 2). Nylon Manhole Covers being used in JB. The star newspaper. BBC News. (2004, January 29). China manhole thefts prove deadly. BBC news. Retrieved from Camerota, R. (2010). Drainspotting: Japanese Manhole Covers. Brooklyn, New York: Mark Batty publisher. Coi. (2009). Communications and Behaviour Change. Behaviour Change, 70. Retrieved from Darnton A (2008), GSR Behaviour Change Knowledge Review. Reference Report: An overview of behaviour change models and their uses, HMT Publishing Unit, London. Deterding, S. (2009). Persuasive Design: The Fine Art of Separating People from Their Bad Behaviors [PowerPoint slides]. Retrieved from Duhhig, C. (2012). The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. New York: Random house. Fabricant, R. (2009). Design With Intent: How designers can influence behaviour. Frog design. Retrieved from Festinger L (1957), A theory of cognitive dissonance, Stanford University Press, Palo Alto, California.

Hashi. (2012, February 25) Japanese Manhole Cover Art. Tongfu. Retrieved from Houseworth , S. M. (2000), Psychology of stealing. USA: WinterHouse Publications. Ibn Manzur, (2010), Lisan Al-Arab Encyclopedia. (Vol. 3, p. 2074), Cairo: Dar Al-Maaref Publishing. Kooi, B. R. (2010). Theft of scrap Metal. Problem-Oriented Guides for Police. Problem-Specific Guides Series Guide No. 58. U.S. Department of Justice. Kretschmar, H. (2010). Taking the Change Out of Behaviour Change. IDEO. [Video] Retrived from Lotfy, K. (2012, January 7). Arresting a gang of Manhole cover thieves. Al-Ahram Newspaper. Retrived from Layard, R. (2005). Happiness: Lessons from a New Science. New York: Penguin Press. Mamut, T. (2010). Changing Daily Habits at Scale. IDEO. [Video] Retrived from Ninad S. (2011, Dec 14). New manhole covers: Made-in-Maharashtra, headed for Egypt. Daily news analysis. Retrieved from Robert, M. P. (2010, August 19). 'Drainspotting' in Japan: The lowest form of art. CNN GO. Retrieved from Sara T. (2011, October 3). Manhole covers; a gold mine to thieves. Al-Ahram newspaper. Retrieved from Seelye, K. (2012, December 1). Traffic lights lets you play pong. Sustainable Mobility and Accessibility Research and Transformation. Retrieved from Stephen, N. G. (2012, February 10). Council to replace manhole covers. New Straits Times. Retrieved from Syed U. A. (2011, November 14). The elusive scrap metal thieves. New Straits Times. Retrieved from Tony, R. (2012, April 25). Stolen manhole covers put 'lives at risk. Niagara Falls Review, St. Catharine’s standard.

Manhole Cover Theft