UKDA to provide Secure Data Service

Article dated: 12 November 2008

The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has funded the development and implementation of a new Secure Data Service (SDS). The service will build on the work of the ESRC and Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) funded Economic and Social Data Service (ESDS) and the ESRC Census Programme which already provide access and support to an extensive range of key economic and social data. By providing access to and supporting the use of such data, these data services, along with other similar services, help to ensure that high quality data are available to inform and address future UK social research and policy priorities. image

The Secure Data Service (SDS) is provided by the UK Data Archive (UKDA) at the University of Essex and will operate in the first instance from 1 October 2008 to 31 September 2010. Building on the success of existing secure access services, such as the Office for National Statistics Virtual Microdata Laboratory, and the NORC Secure Data Enclave, the SDS will permit approved members of the research community access to tightly controlled and securely stored low-level data, which will help to inform research into some of the most complex social challenges facing the UK. The researchers will not be allowed to remove data from the SDS but the Service will enable analysis of data within a secure and safe setting. The system will employ robust security technology analogous to that used by financial institutions and the military, with all of the necessary safeguards and checks to ensure that data are held, accessed, and handled safely and securely.

The UK Data Archive (UKDA) is uniquely well situated to provide the SDS. It has more than 40 years of experience in data curation, data management, and access control, and is an internationally trusted repository for data across a range of disciplines, including for sensitive data available only under Special Licence/Approved Researcher conditions. It is an official Place of Deposit for The National Archives and has in place all of the necessary infrastructure and policies to ensure safe and secure handling of sensitive data.