Trusted Research Environments
Each ADR UK national partnership, as well as the Office for National Statistics (ONS), has a dedicated trusted research environment through which approved researchers can access de-identified administrative data. You can explore the different characteristics of each trusted research environment below.
ONS Secure Research Service
|The service||The ONS Secure Research Service (SRS) gives accredited or approved researchers secure access to de-identified, unpublished data for research projects in the public interest.|
|Advantages||The SRS is an access point for all data held within ONS for statistical purposes, where there is also agreement to share the data for research (some datasets are UK-wide, other are GB, England and Wales or England only).|
|Conditions||Only de-identified data is made available in the SRS. Linkage on identifiable data can only be done by processors accredited under the Digital Economy Act (DEA) for the preparation of data (i.e. the ability to receive data for matching, linking and de-identification). Projects must go through the Research Accreditation Panel (RAP) before data can be accessed.|
|Data access charges||ONS do not charge for access to the SRS. ADR UK’s investment has enabled significant expansion of the service, and for the service to remain free at the point of use.|
|Data access points||Data in the SRS can be accessed at ONS offices (Newport, Titchfield and London), SRS safe rooms available in National Records Scotland (Glasgow) and NISRA (Belfast) and via the SafePod Network. ONS will also be making some SRS data – dependent on data owner agreement – available to researchers via secure remote access through the Assured Organisation Connectivity (AOC) scheme.|
|Interim responses to Covid-19 (June 2020)||The ONS SRS physical secure setting has been closed until further notice, but remote access is available. Access to the SRS from home is possible, providing the project and researcher organisation meet necessary criteria and there is data owner approval.|
ADR Northern Ireland
|The service||The Northern Ireland Statistics & Research Agency (NISRA) allows researchers safe access to project specific de-identified data in a secure environment to carry out secondary data analysis. NISRA hosts the Trusted Third Party for ADR Northern Ireland.|
|Advantages||Project specific de-identified data can be accessed by accredited researchers through NISRA. The ADR NI Data Prospectus contains data from across Northern Ireland government departments.|
|Conditions||Administrative datasets are accessed via direct application to NISRA Research Support Unit (RSU). Health and Social Care (HSC) data is accessed via a different route, via application to the HSC Honest Broker Service. Distinct linkages can be made between HSC data and data from the Northern Ireland Longitudinal Study (NILS) on application to the NISRA Research Support Unit (RSU).|
|Data access charges||Data access charges for the NISRA Secure Environment are currently covered by ADR UK funding.|
|Data access points||Data is accessible via the NISRA Secure Environment Belfast.|
|Interim responses to Covid-19 (June 2020)||The secure research room in Colby House closed on 14 October in response to recent local coronavirus restrictions. This decision will be reviewed four weeks after the closure date.|
eDRIS (Public Health Scotland),
|The service||The Public Health Scotland electronic Data Research & Innovation Service (eDRIS) provides a single point of contact to support approved researchers to gain access to de-identified public sector administrative data for public benefit research, in the Scottish National Safe Haven (NSH) secure analytical environment. |
The Scottish NSH is operated by the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh Parallel Computing Centre (EPCC) on behalf of Public Health Scotland.
|Advantages||The service comprises complete end-to-end project coordination, expert advice, liaison with service delivery partners and data providers, support with applying for permissions, and user support for access to the Scottish National Safe Haven|
The Scottish NSH offers a high-powered computing service, secure analytic environment, secure file transfer and a range of analytic software including SPSS, STATA, SAS, and R.
eDRIS supports various research initiatives including research projects from ADR UK, HDR UK (Health Data Research UK), Research Data Scotland (RDS), Scottish Government and other funding streams. A wealth of de-identified health and non-health datasets can be analysed in the Scottish NSH subject to gaining appropriate permissions.
|Conditions||Research projects must have appropriate approvals in place and appropriate individuals should be named in the application and/or data sharing agreement. eDRIS provides assistance with research applications to:|
|Data access charges||Public Health Scotland operates a cost recovery model to deliver the eDRIS suite of services. These charges are not currently covered by ADR UK funding, although the feasibility of doing this for secondary data analysis calls is being explored to promote interest in newly available datasets. For more information about access charges, please see the eDRIS web page.|
|Data access points||Data in the Scottish NSH can be accessed via secure access points located at eDRIS offices (Edinburgh Bioquarter). In some cases, data controllers may allow remote access to data in the Scottish NSH subject to additional data access agreements. eDRIS is in the process of registering the Scottish NSH with the SafePod Network, increasing the number of data access points.|
|Exiting special Covid-19 arrangements (July 2022)||Secure access points for the Scottish NSH have been closed since the onset of the pandemic. Some data controllers have permitted remote data access subject to meeting additional criteria and new data access agreements. eDRIS plans to reopen the secure access points at Edinburgh Bioquarter in tandem with the Scottish NSH joining the SafePod Network.|
|The service||SAIL Databank gives researchers secure remote access to datasets with billions of anonymised person-based population, health and social care data records. SAIL utilises the services of a trusted third party to facilitate data linkage via personal identifiers. There are no personal identifiers held within SAIL.|
|Advantages||Data submitted to the trusted third party with identifiers allows data to be linked automatically to all other data holdings related to those individuals within SAIL (includes: a range of health data, including hospital and GP data; CAFCASS data; educational outcomes data; energy data; and local authority held data, such as that relating to council tax, homelessness and looked after children).|
|Conditions||If data owners are not willing to submit data with personal identifiers to the trusted third party, data cannot be linked to other datasets and remains a standalone asset. The majority of data already held within SAIL relates to the population of Wales, so onward linkage of other data is limited.|
|Data access charges for SAIL are not currently covered by ADR UK funding, although the feasibility of doing this for secondary data analysis calls is being explored to promote interest in newly available datasets. For more information about access charges, please see the SAIL website.|
|Data access points||Secure remote access to data is available within the SAIL Gateway. This is subject to researcher verification, a data access agreement and physical and procedural controls. Researchers can also access the SAIL Gateway through the SafePod Network.|
|Interim responses to Covid-19 (June 2020)||SAIL remote access services are operating as usual.|