Digital Twins

State of the art
Digital Twins

Digital Twins are changing how technologies such as IoT, AI, ML, and Big Data analytics are being thought about. These innovative technologies will be utilised by Iliad to create virtual representations of physical processes/entities and understand their behaviour, anticipating their possible reactions to simulated events. The Iliad DTO is based on a multi-disciplinary approach and team, playing an important role to advance the current scientific state-of-art. Ocean experts will work with engineers, computer scientists, and process experts to develop an effective (e.g. self-learning) Digital Twin.

The range of disciplines involved will allow the development of a wide and diverse array of applications, replicating in a comprehensive manner ocean processes (past, present, and forecasted in short- and longer-term) and making this knowledge accessible to a multitude of end-users. This is particularly important to contribute to the European Green Deal (EGD) strategy, where key objectives are, for example, the adaptation of our Society and economy to the climate change and the risk reduction to natural hazards. Iliad’s ambition is the delivery of interactive virtual tools of the ocean in a unified digital environment. It would empower a shared responsibility to monitor and ensure marine habitat preservation, sustainable marine economic activities, and exploitation of ecosystem services (fisheries, aquaculture, transport, offshore energy, shipping, marine structures, etc.). It will allow assessments of ecosystems and habitats, the impact of human activities and forecasts of their short and long-term changes, development of biodiversity conservation strategies, management of sustainable economic activities, assessment of infrastructure vulnerability, development of mitigation, adaptation, and replacement plans to deal with climate risks and optimisation of emergency responses to severe events such as storm surges.

Digital Twins
Photo by Shaun Dakin
Iliad novelties and innovations

The need to grasp and deal with major environmental issues, make informed policy decisions, and foster knowledge-driven innovation have been recognised as fundamental and urgent challenges for the future of Europe in all recent relevant key policy documents/The European Green Deal, A European Strategy for Data, and Shaping Europe's digital future. In the report prepared for the European Commission “Mission Starfish 2030: Restore our Ocean and Waters Report of the Mission Board Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters” it is clearly stated that the “aim should be to fully map, sequence, observe and predict our ocean, seas, and rivers. The goal is to build on the existing forecast and climate modelling infrastructures and services (including Copernicus services for marine, climate, coastal, emergency, inland waters, etc.) and pool together all available observation data, first at EU-level then globally, into an open-source, easily accessible and understandable interface and matching application and an interactive platform: a Digital Twin of the Ocean.”

It is in this context that Iliad aims to leverage the experience acquired by previous projects and initiatives to support the implementation of the DestinE initiative to establish a Green Deal Data Space and thus advance in the development of a service infrastructure catering to a wide spectrum of users in full conformity with EU values, legislation, and standards. This endeavour will be connected to the ongoing global process of the almost exponential increase of new data for the ocean, of the number and variety of ocean observing systems as well to the advances in processing techniques and visualisation that rapidly expand our ability to extract information from those data. Iliad DTO will enable different user groups (public, scientific, private) to interact with vast amounts of ocean data and socio-economic information in order to continuously monitor the health of the European Seas (e.g., for climate change induced effects, state of the oceans, biodiversity, coastal and offshore use, natural resources etc.). Utilising the advances in sensing and computing simulation technologies that enable collection and generation of massive data sets every second at different spatio-temporal scales, the Iliad DTO will explore data streaming through IoT domains, while fusing the collected spatio-temporal multi-scaled marine data with data from social media platforms and citizen science apps. Iliad DTO will employ AI techniques to exploit hidden patterns and parametric interrelations to reach an understanding of complex ocean processes on issues like toxic algal blooms, anoxia, marine species environmental preferences and distribution patterns, ecosystemic and socio-economic impacts of extreme events like heat waves, storms, or floods.

Iliad’s ambition is to develop an interoperable, fully integrated, and cost-effective multiplatform network of observing and forecasting systems across European seas, addressing both the open sea and the coastal zone.

This platform will have the following novel characteristics:

  1. Users will be able to search, retrieve and visualise data for specific parameters within a certain time and space window using a single command interface, irrespective of the data storage.

  2. Users will be able to download archived/forecasted information and receive services through a single system.

  3. A set of interactive web tools will be developed for the front-end of the platform to allow the user to visualise both the location of data points (using maps) and the data values (using plots/data visualisation layers).

  4. Data from numerous observational platforms, systems, and networks will be readily available to end-users through the newly developed platform. Diverse data will enrich the system i.e., with meteorological, hydrological, oceanographical, environmental, underwater heritage and citizen’s science data.

  5. Databases will be re-organised, homogenised, and fused to provide data retrieved in a common standard type and format, as well as other types and formats according to end-user requirements.

  6. New data will be produced, stored, and exposed through the newly developed system, increasing the spatial and temporal resolution at specific locations (pilots).

  7. Novel observation systems (mobile and static) will be developed and tested, and their data will be uploaded to the Iliad DTO.

  8. Operational models will provide forecasts and inform end-users on upcoming changes.

  9. Local/regional/national policymakers and end-users will be trained on using the DTO.


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