New award for the Secure Data Service

Article dated: 14 July 2010

The Secure Data Service has been successful in securing further funding to extend its current pilot service to a full service. The Secure Data Service (SDS), funded by the ESRC, promotes excellence in research by enabling safe and secure remote access by researchers to data previously deemed too sensitive, detailed, confidential or potentially disclosive to be made available under standard licensing and dissemination arrangements. SDS

The Service pilot was established at the Archive initially to explore relevant technologies and systems, and to provide secure remote access to detailed data from some of the major ESRC-funded resources, such as the British Household Panel Study.

In light of this extension to a full service, SDS has reached an agreement to expand its data holdings to include sensitive and detailed data from government sources.

The successful negotiation for future deposit of major holdings from the Office for National Statistics’ Virtual Microdata Laboratory (VML) vastly expands the SDS’s impact and value to research. Previously, academics would have had to travel significant distances to access data onsite, but now the majority of VML holdings, including business microdata for the first time, will be available remotely from JANET-connected computers at their home institutions. The UK is unique within Europe for having this level of partnership between an academic-based national data archive and a national statistics institute, and thus the data access situation for social researchers in the UK is envied across Europe.

The SDS is at the cutting edge of secure data enclaves in Europe in its approach to safe remote access. Its security philosophy is based upon training and trust, underpinned by cutting edge technology, appropriate licensing and legal frameworks, and strict security policies and penalties.