Posted on 23 August 2021
A Safepod is a small, prefabricated room providing the necessary security and controls to enable researchers to remotely view and work with data that requires secure access. A network of Safepods is under development at several universities and organisations in the UK and are expected to be operational next year.
The Safepod will give researchers access to a wealth of government datasets, including new linked datasets created by Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) projects, such as the groundbreaking Data First programme at the Ministry of Justice. It also provides access to datasets held by the Office for National Statistics’ Secure Research Service, the UK Data Service and SAIL Databank which holds health and social care data.
At present, researchers can only access such sensitive data from a handful of sites in the country. Being primarily based at UK universities, Safepods will safely bring this sort of data closer to researchers, who will be able to book the facilities via the Safepod network website. Priority will be given to research critical to society and the economy.
Sarah Thompson is Head of Content and Open Research in the Library, Archives and Learning Services team. She said: “We’re delighted to be hosting one of the first SafePods at the University of York. We know this virtual service will be really important to researchers from across our region who need to access sensitive datasets, and we are proud to be the one of the first network members to open for bookings.”
Professor Chris Dibben, SafePod Network Director, said: “Until recently, researchers based in many parts of the UK could not access administrative datasets securely and easily. This probably meant important research for public benefit did not happen. Now, with the SafePods being installed across the UK, no researcher should be far from an access point – transforming the UK research landscape.”
In all 25 Safepods are planned including sites at the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Central Lancashire, Exeter, Glasgow Caledonian, Liverpool, London School of Economics and Political Science, Manchester, Nottingham, Oxford, Ulster and The National Archives.