The OpenMODs – Open Access Marine Observation Devices – project was extended for a second phase, from Sept 2019 to February 2021. Due to COVID restrictions, there were some delays, but Phase 2.0 completed in late 2022.

Read more about Phase 1 of OpenMods here:

What is the question or challenge and why is it important?

Ocean-based businesses contribute more than 500 billion USD to the world’s economy. According to the OECD’s Ocean Economy Database, the economic value of the ocean outputs in 2010 was 1.5 trillion USD, or in other words, approximately 2.5% of the world’s gross economic value. Ocean also contributed around 31 million direct full-time jobs in 2010, which is around 1% of the global workforce. The majority of global coastal areas are in countries with low/medium GDP per capita. Although most human marine activities take place in this coastal zone, and in the next decades more than 70% of the world`s population will be living and dependent upon the coastal zone, most of the coastal ocean is not regularly observed. Concomitantly, very few data have been published and data are not openly available from and in the coastal areas of the developing countries.

Despite the high level acknowledgement of these urgent needs1, the ability to access user-friendly, low-cost instrumentation, is still a limiting factor in coastal ocean observing, since the majority of marine observation equipment is difficult to deploy, costly to operate and requires specific technical skills. Even a simple cheap instrument for ocean observation is not also a good option if it needs to transport from a developed country to a developing country. Because impose of tax makes the price several times higher than its original price.

A shortage of local skills in ocean observation and interfacing capacities with stakeholders further exacerbates the problem further.

The competition for use and the financial and political helplessness of authorities in realising any monitoring and implementation of existing legislation and lack of environmental and marine governance is every day and causes negative feedbacks preventing observation. Given this issue, it is not surprising that a harmonized observation programme for global coastal waters has as yet to be established despite the substantial efforts of international organizations (e.g. GOOS).

Existing programmes such as the ARGO float programme, are comparatively expensive, involve complex deployment (ships) and do not cover at all the coastal and shelf areas. Such programmes and existing models and satellites require reliable and extensive data sets for their calibration and validation in the coastal zone. Contrastingly, recent technological advancements have allowed novel improvements in sensors, platforms and communication which will move us forward into a new practicable COastal
and Global Ocean observing philosophy (COGO). Therefore, it is important to develop inexpensive equipment which is reliable for measurement, user friendly and freeware.

In response to the urgent observational needs in the coastal waters of the ocean and in line with its vision and mission, POGO in 2018 awarded the OpenMODs proposal headed by OGS and AWI with external support of 4-H-JENA and the UNESCO/International Centre for Theoretical Physics. The resulting exploratory OpenMODs project was a humanitarian pilot project which had the following achievements:

  1. horizon scanning was carried out on the low-cost technologies available for ocean observing
  2. international partners (also non-POGO) were engaged in the definition of the needs for coastal observations and provide a list of functionalities requested for the novel platforms
  3. the architecture for an OpenMODs versatile platform for ocean monitoring was defined a “condensation nucleus” was formed to stimulate the formation of a cluster of OpenMODs partners especially from developing countries such as from Africa
  4. a “condensation nucleus” was formed to stimulate the formation of a cluster of OpenMODs partners especially from developing countries such as from Africa

What is the method or approach for OpenMODs 2.0?

The overarching objective of OpenMODs 2.0 is to produce a prototype of a versatile low-cost ocean observing platform ready to be tested and equipped with a variety of sensors and to consolidate and enlarge the potential user community (notably African countries and Asian coastal countries) and verify the potential of this class of platform for networking, research and educational purposes.

In this project, we intend to implement in practice what has been worked out and envisaged in concepts and meetings in OpenMODs community. Pivotal to the project is the development of working prototypes of the low-cost platforms up to a Technological Readiness Level (TRL) level 6/7 (see Tab.1). The second point is to engage and prepare a user community with a series of initiatives detailed in the work plan in order to facilitate the swift uptake of the novel technologies (African countries in the forefront, but not exclusively limited to them). Additionally, the use of this platform as educational equipment will be tested in specific cases and will be a blueprint in a conceptual framework of science, technology and practice transfer and dissemination to the local user communities.

Work plan

The OpenMODs 2.0 workload is distributed over the following work packages:
• WP 1: Platform prototyping & testing
• WP 2: Community consolidation
• WP 3: Education, communication and dissemination

What will be the outputs from the project?

We aim to increase the knowledge, application and awareness of OPENMOD devices as a COGO fleet. The performance of these platforms should be tested and assessed. Besides the dissemination of the methods (display it mainly open access) and the dissemination of the measured data, the potential of OpenMODs platform for educational purposes should be verified. The results will contribute to value the POGO activities (e.g. exploitation of NANO Alumni expertise).

The following deliverables will be produced during the project:

  • WP1.T1.1 OpenMODs Platform Final Plan
  • WP1.T1.2a Prototype Implementation and Testing
  • WP1.T1.2b Alpha –tested OpenMODs Prototype
  • WP2.T1 Ongoing projects on coastal ocean observations in Africa
  • WP2. T2a Definition of pilot monitoring cases
  • WP3.T2b Panel of educational experts to develop a teaching module
  • WP3.T2c Teaching module on COGO within the NF-POGO CofE and an online resource. (Educational material; m14-18, PU)
  • WP3.T3 Teaching booklet, manual and open source material

Status: Complete Project

Year: 2019 - 2022

Members involved

Project Participants


  • Alessandro Crise, OGS, Itlay
  • Karen H. Wiltshire, AWI, Germany


  • Riccardo Gerin, OGS, Italy
  • Eva-Maria Brodte, AWI, Germany
  • Fabio Brunetti, OGS, Italy
  • Vito Ramos, INDP (IMAR)/OSCM, Cabo Verde
  • Marco Zennaro, UNESCO/The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Itlay
  • Ermanno Pietrosemoli, UNESCO/The Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Itlay
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