The large-scale innovative and ambitious Digital Ocean (Iliad) project is looking to pioneer the digital transformation of oceanic understanding and stewardship. The consortium, which was funded by the European Union under the €1 billion European Green Deal, includes fifty-six partners across eighteen countries from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa.

Iliad is at the forefront of creating advanced digital twins of the ocean, which are virtual representations of marine systems. These digital twins of the ocean play a crucial role in realizing the vision of a more sustainable and well-preserved marine environment. They achieve this by providing among others, real-time, interactive access to integrated data, tools, and information.

At the heart of Iliad’s mission is the goal of strengthening the planning and decision-making processes in marine conservation, as well as in environmental and socio-economic domains. Through the use of digital twins of the ocean, Iliad aims to enable complex analysis, simulations, and predictive management scenarios. This empowers stakeholders and end-user groups with unprecedented foresight and adaptability to address challenges in the oceanic environment.

As part of the project Iliad, partners operate 22 pilot sites, where its innovative technologies are being employed to address different challenges all over Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The pilot digital twins, of which many have now come to the state of being a minimum viable Product (MVP) that can be demonstrated, showcase technology that has been developed in Iliad to facilitate interoperable twins that can exchange components to create digital twins of the ocean applications.

The pilots’ key areas are:

  • Coastal Sediment Transport – At Naissaar’s Port in Estonia, an integrated approach using physical measurements and hydrodynamic models will address sediment accumulation challenges in ports.
  • Harbour Safety – A pilot in Varna Port demonstrates DTO technology in combination with augmented reality and citizen science with the objective to minimise weather-induced disruptions in harbour traffic and enhance navigation safety.
  • Ballast Water Monitoring – Assesses invasive species risk in ballast water, aiding cargo ship sustainability and convention compliance in Spain.
  • Fisheries Productivity – A Fishing Suitability Index improves fishing zone identification in the north-western Black Sea as well in the North Sea.
  • Ocean Energy Potential – Harness tidal energy, with a focus on accurate models capturing kinetic energy in coastal channels and assessing tidal energy arrays. A similar approach is applied to wave energy.
  • Wind Energy – An interactive tool optimises offshore wind operations, especially Floating Offshore Wind turbines, while another one assesses the feasibility of operations linked to wind energy maintenance using Iliad’s data access to metocean data.
  • Jellyfish Swarm Forecast – Developing a Citizen-Science- data-based forecast and online map to anticipate jellyfish swarms, safeguarding ocean activities and mitigating economic impacts.
  • Environmental, Water Quality and Pollution Monitoring – The pilot demonstrates new ways of environmental monitoring through a combination of multi-sensor platforms and ocean models as well as testing of new sensors for microplastic detection.
  • Oil Spills – Using DTOs to detect and predict the fate of oil spills around Crete, in the North Aegean Sea and the Eastern Mediterranean. The pilots combine satellite observations, social media data with advanced oceanography and machine learning.
  • Aquaculture – A pilot for the aquaculture industry in North Africa as well as in Norway will provide operational support for day-to-day planning as well as warning and decision support in case of events that threaten fish welfare and biomass production. A pilot for mussel aquaculture is developed for Italy.
  • Insurance – The Aquaculture Risk Management platform pilot will serve as a holistic risk assessment tool to stakeholders along the Norwegian aquaculture value chain, combining historic, current, and projected data.

Wave energy

One of the interesting pilot sites is operated by Iliad partner Eco Wave Power, which is testing and validating various wave sensors collecting the wave data from the location of its 100kW Wave Energy Converter in Jaffa Port, Israel.

Eco Wave Power’s technology will assist in providing countries with an innovative reliable clean energy source. From an ecological point of view, wave energy is a key renewable energy source for climate change mitigation.

The data collected by the project can be used to conduct the future efficient site assessments for wave energy converter technology implementation. This data is helping to advance Wave Energy Converter technology to identify the energy generation potential for sites around the world under various sea states.


Iliad partner Genillard from Germany is looking into aquaculture risk metrics. Marine operators and coastal communities face risk issues that can or cannot be insured. To better understand risk, a state-of-the-art risk management process must be adhered to that facilitates mitigation, adaptation, or insurance. Iliad is analysing historic data from existing repositories. By defining risk scenarios at areas more vulnerable and of higher risk, the exposure to extreme events will become more transparent.

The consortium consisting of lead Genillard, SINTEF, and BLB, is currently developing a tool for risk modelling and forecasting disaster scenarios to allow constant risk monitoring. This will create new business models for synchronizing needs regarding risk management and risk prevention measures of insurer and insured, incorporating both natural and man-made events.

Coastal sediment transport

Iliad’s Estonian partner TalTech is looking into ways to help the Naissaar Port tackle a sediment transport where sand accumulates in the entry channel of the harbour. The aim is to estimate probabilities and nature of sediment transport and wave patterns better for planning future development of the port. The project is developing a coastal sediment transport model incorporating waves, hydrodynamics and harbour-specific mapping to aid the harbour design process.

A field work campaign was already performed in the Gulf of Riga to gather data for the purpose of sediment transportation modelling development.

“The pilot sites will enable us to demonstrate the value of the DTO approach by engaging with a variety of stakeholders and topics,” said Iliad Coordinator Charalampos Ipektsidis, from Netcompany-Intrasoft. “The Iliad Project has assembled a broad and diverse user community of existing and new users that are using the project’s innovative technological solutions to address the particular challenges each one of them is facing.”

The pilot DTO’s are being co-created directly with stakeholders across energy, fisheries, aquaculture, marine traffic, environmental/pollution monitoring, biodiversity, insurance, harbour safety, plastics, sediment transportation, oil spill, jellyfish, swarms, among many others. 

The quest to develop a comprehensive network of Digital Twins of the Ocean (DTOs( supports the European Union’s efforts as part of the EDITO (Environmental Data and Information Transfer Operational) projects towards developing a cohesive European DTO.

The Iliad project is uniquely positioned to significantly bolster the overarching objectives of the EU Mission Ocean initiative. The Mission Ocean initiative seeks to protect and restore the health of our oceans and waters by 2030, a noble and ambitious goal necessitating innovative approaches to environmental stewardship and resource management.

Iliad’s cutting-edge DTOs provide an essential tool for achieving this, offering a dynamic platform for real-time monitoring, simulation, and predictive analysis of marine ecosystems. By providing stakeholders with advanced tools for decision-making and planning, Iliad facilitates proactive measures in conservation efforts and sustainable use of ocean resources, aligning closely with Mission Ocean’s vision of achieving good environmental status of all marine waters.