COMMON SENSE Resources for European Marine Monitoring


The COMMON SENSE project has successfully finished after 40 months of in-depth research and continual development of marine sensors and systems. The EU-funded project started in November 2013 and ran until February 2017 with a focus on developing specific sensors in direct response to current marine monitoring challenges, and the requirement of EU Member States in meeting their Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requirements and achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) of their marine territories.

The COMMON SENSE project was a great success, with significant progress made to improve marine data acquisition using sensors to contribute towards increasing the availability of standardised data on: eutrophication; concentrations of heavy metals; microplastic fraction within marine litter; underwater noise; and other parameters such as temperature, pH, pCO2 and pressure.

The progress achieved by the project partners is impressive, with the majority of the sensors moving from a technology readiness level (TRL) of 2-3 up to 6-7, with one sensor now at TRL 8 – the Mini Sea Sampling System. While commercialisation of these sensors is beyond the scope of the project as it has finished, interested stakeholders are welcomed, and encouraged to engage with COMMON SENSE partners to ensure the sensors are brought to market. In many cases, partners have committed to continuing the work in COMMON SENSE in order to do so.

To optimise the exploitation potential of the COMMON SENSE project’s generated knowledge, the partners incorporated an in-depth communication, dissemination and knowledge transfer strategy from the very beginning of the project. Several different resources are available to stakeholders, which will allow them to understand exactly what the knowledge is, and how it could be applicable to them. From an industrial point of view, sensor profiles were developed as technical briefs, outlining the technical specifications and highlights of each sensor. These are available to download from the COMMON SENSE website’s media section. Also, the project carried out a feasibility analysis and have outlined manufacturing procedures for each sensor, providing in-depth information on how the sensors can be reproduced and brought to market.

The COMMON SENSE outreach in general was enthusiastically taken on board by all partners from an early stage, in recognition of the need to raise awareness of progress and results of the project on an ongoing basis. To this end, regular factsheets were developed, published and widely disseminated. As well as an introductory factsheet developed at the start of the project to introduce stakeholders to the COMMON SENSE project, its objectives, methodology and expected impacts, three other factsheets provided information on important aspects of the project, such as: how COMMON SENSE sensors will contribute to improving marine monitoring and marine data management including an infographic that shows the project development timeline alongside a timeline for MSFD implementation; introductory detail on each of the innovative sensors under development by COMMON SENSE including the description of how the sensors could work together on one platform through the smart sensor unit and common sensor platform whose goal was to collect data from multiple sensors; detail on the deployment and testing activities carried out by partners to ensure developed sensors were fit for purpose and to identify areas which required further modification. Significant effort was expended in these activities, with all sensors being tested a multiple of times at different locations and using different platforms.

A project video was also created, which quickly explains the project and its relevance to marine monitoring policies across Europe, using a mixture of real footage and animations. The video is available to view online at or through the COMMON SENSE website.

The COMMON SENSE project closed with a final partner meeting and demonstration event in Barcelona at the end of January 2017. The Coordinator, Sergio Martinez of LEITAT, expressed his appreciation for the efforts of each partner and congratulated the consortium on their achievements, saying: “Tomorrow has arrived, now at the project end the proposal vision has come true, our objectives have materialised and the results are widely visible; we looked at the requirements of next generation sensors, including measuring new pollutants and increasing performance and compared them to existing sensors, to develop cost-effective solutions, transferring acquired data to an interoperable web platform. We tested and deployed our marine sensors and systems with exciting and hopeful results.  Some sensors are now advanced prototypes, others require further validation.  A mission for COMMON SENSE partners now is to continue with the legacy of the project, to keep working on these innovative marine solutions, reach the market, and help society by contributing to the realisation and maintenance of good environmental status in all EU Member States”.

The results of the COMMON SENSE project can be used to increase knowledge of the marine environment and access to related data, allowing strategic decisions to be taken in marine protection and conservation. It will also help to support EU policies (MSFD / CFP) by providing multifunctional, innovative and cost-effective sensors that are easy to use across a range of platforms to detect reliable measurements on key parameters by means of methodological standards that interoperate with, existing or new, international observing services. All COMMON SENSE resources are available to download from the COMMON SENSE website, or by contacting WP10 Leader Cliona Ní Cheallachain of AquaTT (, or the project coordinator Sergio Martinez of Leitat ( 


Success for COMMON SENSE Marine Sensor Demonstration a Significant Achievement

The EC-funded COMMON SENSE project held its final event in Barcelona on the 27 January 2017, attended by project partners and important stakeholders involved in European marine monitoring. The Meeting was held in the facilities of Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona (FNOB), partner in the COMMON SENSE project. The full day meeting provided in-depth context on the challenges and importance of improving methods and available technology to monitor and protect our marine waters. Presentations on the specific results generated by the COMMON SENSE project preceded a live demonstration of the marine monitoring sensors generated by the project.

Sensors developed by the COMMON SENSE project can contribute towards increasing the availability of standardised data on: eutrophication; concentrations of heavy metals; micro plastic fraction within marine litter; underwater noise; and other parameters such as temperature, pH, pCO2 and pressure. These cost-effective sensors directly respond to current marine monitoring challenges and will be a key tool for EU Member States in meeting their Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requirements and achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) of their marine territories.

Sergio Martinez, COMMON SENSE Scientific Coordinator, said: “Being able to validate what the COMMON SENSE project has achieved through a live demonstration was a momentous occasion for me as coordinator, but also for all the partners. Not only has COMMON SENSE shown that marine sensors can be developed which are cheaper, smaller and more user friendly than currently available sensors; they are also interoperable using the COMMON SENSE smart sensor unit and common web platform. This means the date provided by the sensors can be made available online in real-time regardless of the platform used to host the sensors; buoy, pier, even racing yachts.”

The COMMON SENSE partners have input significant effort over the past forty months to develop prototypes for innovative, next generation sensing technologies that will contribute to the implementation of the MSFD and therefore support the protection of the marine environment in Europe.

CS Consortium photo final event

Prior to the COMMON SENSE final event, partners involved in sensor development spent the week in Barcelona testing and deploying their sensors in preparation for the demonstration. Within the COMMON SENSE project considerable focus was on deployment and testing, with partners rigorously testing all hardware developed to ensure that sensors’ performance is not inhibited by even the most changeable and challenging conditions. COMMON SENSE sensors underwent field testing in the Mediterranean, North, Norwegian, Baltic and Arctic seas.

For further information about COMMON SENSE, please contact the COMMON SENSE Scientific Coordinator Sergio Martinez (

Final Event Announcement 27 January 2017

Demonstration of Next Generation Sensors for Advanced Real-Time Ocean Observation

The COMMON SENSE project will host a demonstration event and final partner meeting in Barcelona, Spain on the 27 January 2017.

The conference, entitled ‘Demonstration of Next Generation Sensors for Advanced Real-Time Ocean Observation’, is a unique event that marks the end of the COMMON SENSE project which was launched in November 2013. The project was funded to directly respond to the requirement for integrated and effective data acquisition systems by developing innovative sensors that will contribute to our understanding of how the marine environment functions.

Conference participants will have the opportunity to learn more about the COMMON SENSE prototypes of next generation in-situ marine sensors to deliver vital information about the ocean. In doing so, COMMON SENSE results can support the implementation of European Union marine policies such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP).

Professionals working in the marine environment and citizens curious about the status of our oceans are invited!

To view the agenda for this demonstration workshop, please click the image below:

Snapshot of agenda cover

Location: Fundació Navegació Oceànica Barcelona (FNOB),Moll de Llevant 1, 08039 Barcelona, Spain.

Date: 27 January 2017

Time: 09.00 – 17.00

To register, please click here.

As the COMMON SENSE project comes to a successful conclusion, the results will be presented at this final workshop, along with a demonstration of the novel sensors developed and tested during the COMMON SENSE project.

COMMON SENSE featured in new video!

Please enjoy this short video filmed on RV Oceania under the guidance of project partners The Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Science, (IOPAN).
The video features field testing of COMMON SENSE sensors. The underwater noise and microplastics sensors have been tested on board this fully equipped research vessel in various cruises throughout the past year.

You can learn more about the making of this video here: (Polish language)

Robust Autonomous Sensors to Revolutionise Marine Monitoring

With the COMMON SENSE project now in its final year, impressive progress is being made towards achieving the project’s aims of developing low cost sensors that will revolutionise current marine monitoring strategies.

Representatives of the 15 COMMON SENSE partner organisations gathered at the state-of-the-art National Centre for Sensor Research (NCSR) ( at Dublin City University (DCU), Ireland, from 6-7 April 2016 to discuss exciting results from recent sensor testing exercises. Pre-final versions of sensors, final integration steps, testing platform availability and deployment schedules were also presented.

Prof Dermot Diamond, Director of the NCSR, was keen to emphasise the remarkable breadth of the project’s vision during the Dublin meeting. He said, “Great strides have already been made towards accomplishing our ambitious objectives during the first 30 months. The final 10 months will focus increasingly on bringing the ambitions of the project together.”

The sensors being developed by COMMON SENSE will increase the supply of critically needed standardised data on: eutrophication; concentrations of heavy metals; microplastic fraction within marine litter; underwater noise; and other parameters such as temperature, pH, pCO2 and pressure. These cost-effective sensors directly respond to current marine monitoring challenges and will be a key tool for EU Member States in meeting their Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requirements and achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) of their marine territories.

Sergio Martinez, COMMON SENSE Scientific Coordinator, said: “COMMON SENSE is undoubtedly developing sensors that are beyond the state of the art, but this, in and of itself, is not the greatest achievement of the project. What we are really striving to do here is to make sensors that are low cost, robust, and can withstand tough environments. These sensors transmit data through a communications and web platform, also developed by the project, which will ensure a continuous flow of much needed information on the health of our marine environments. These are practical sensors that will benefit all European citizens by helping member states to reach and maintain GES of our waters through cost effective monitoring programmes.”

The robust nature of the sensors developed by COMMON SENSE will be put to the test during a research cruise scheduled for June 2016, which will entail a non-stop trip from Gdansk, Poland, taking in Baltic and North Sea waters, sailing as far as Tromsø, Norway. During the cruise, the microplastics sensor will be tested under the guidance of The Institute of Oceanology Polish Academy of Science (IOPAN). Meanwhile the eutrophication sensor will also undergo testing in June on Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR)’s "Dirigibile Italia" Arctic station in Ny-Alesund (Svalbard Archipelago, Norway).

These expeditions will help fulfil the project’s commitment to testing developed hardware in extreme environments, thus ensuring high quality performance in even the most changeable and challenging conditions.
Key to the project’s vision is the ability for sensors to be integrated into a variety of vessels and platforms, so a wide diversity of ships are being employed to test sensor performance. For example, the Barcelona Foundation for Ocean Sailing (FNOB)’s boat, an 18m IMOCA 60 yacht, plays a crucial role in testing the COMMON SENSE microplastics sensor. This highly sensitive technology is capable of measuring the amount of microplastics such as PET (Polyethylene terephthalate) and polystyrene in surface water between depths of 20cm and 100cm. The sensor installed on FNOB’s boat will continuously transmit information via a wireless connection to the project’s servers during testing exercises. The entire data collection process is automatic with no intervention from the skipper necessary at any point.

COMMON SENSE recently shared its exceptional results and new sensing technologies with a diverse audience of stakeholders last month (17-19 May 2016) during a dissemination event at the Baltic Operational Oceanographic System (BOOS) Annual General Meeting in Sopot, Poland. Interactive presentations of the microplastics, underwater noise and eutrophication sensors took place as well as scientific talks and poster sessions; panel discussions; and one-to-one meetings.

For further information about COMMON SENSE, keep an eye on the project Twitter account (@COMMONSENSE_EU).


Photo Caption: Members of the COMMON SENSE consortium at the project’s partner meeting in April 2016 in Dublin, Ireland. Credit: DCU

EC flag The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7 /2007-2013) under grant agreement no 614155. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the European Union cannot be held responsible for any use which maybe made of the information contained therein.