New national secure data centre

Article dated: 10 February 2012

The UK Data Archive has been awarded £2.4 million by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to create a new national secure data centre at the University of Essex. UK Data Archive building

The project is an integral part of efforts being led by the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills to improve the national 'e-infrastructure' – the integration of digitally-based technology, resources and communications across a whole range of fields.

The centre will provide greater capacity for the existing Secure Data Service and will be a scalable facility so it can respond to the increasing supply of sensitive data and growing demand for access.

Director of the UK Data Archive Matthew Woollard said: "This is a fantastic opportunity for the University to continue its broad commitment to the provision of data support infrastructure, especially at a time when demand for access to sensitive data is increasing."

Access to secure data for research purposes has to be managed extremely carefully as the data may be confidential, sensitive or so detailed that it might be possible to identify an individual.

The UK Data Archive and its Secure Data Service are recognised internationally for the secure management of data; and the same high standards will be in place at the new centre. This will allow researchers direct, but controlled, access to sensitive data while minimising the risk of disclosure.

Researchers will also be able to analyse data using computers with high-level processing power within a secure environment. One of the advantages of this will be the ability to link together large-scale administrative data held by the Government.