ONS releases important update about the transition from the ONS Secure Research Service to the Integrated Data Service
Earlier this year, we introduced the Integrated Data Service (IDS) and outlined the plans to transition data, people and projects from the ONS Secure Research Service (SRS) to the IDS. Further to this and demonstrating its commitment to listening to user needs, the ONS has stated it will increase the length of the transition period and expand the IDS analytical tooling offer. This news follows a period of user engagement that included discussions with and user testing by researchers as well as a showcase event.
The ONS SRS is a trusted research environment providing accredited researchers with secure access to de-identified data for public-good research. The ONS is ADR UK’s major data infrastructure partner, with ADR UK directly funding the development and expansion of the ONS SRS. The IDS is a cross-government initiative, being led by the ONS. It aims to deliver a data access service that removes as much friction as possible for researchers and government analysts wishing to access administrative data.
The IDS will host data on a cloud-based platform, with the vision that all data will be indexed and linkable to all other datasets. This will give users the ability to bring together ready-to-use data for richer analytical insight on a platform with greater and faster computing power. The transition period will see data, and users and their projects move from the ONS SRS to the IDS.
A longer period of dual running
While the transition will begin this summer as planned the ONS has acknowledged that more time is needed to prepare for and deliver the transition to the IDS. The ONS SRS will therefore remain open beyond the previously planned closure date (which was March 2024).
The transition remains a priority however, and the ONS will remain in contact with users about the progress on transition plans. The ONS will consider if new projects and project extensions can start in the IDS if the data and tools are available to meet the requirements of that project. There is a dedicated team in place to support early adopters with their transition journey.
Lengthening the period of dual running of the ONS SRS alongside the IDS will allow more time to transition data, people, and their projects to the IDS. It will also allow the team more time to engage with data owners and implement a broader range of analytical tools in the IDS that meet user needs.
More analytical tools for researchers
User testing and engagement activity have made it clear that the IDS needs to include more tools to meet the analytical needs of researchers. Tools currently in the IDS include R and Python. These will be expanded before ONS SRS users transition to the IDS. The existing plans for IDS tooling include adding: Spark framework, geospatial tools within Google Cloud or BigQuery, Visual Studio Code, RStudio, Looker Studio, Google Sheets, Quatro, and Latex.
User feedback has made the case for alternative software to be made available. The IDS is a cloud-based platform and some of these software packages do not currently have cloud-native functionality and so cannot currently be implemented within the IDS. The ONS will continue to explore options around this and will update users as soon as a decision has been reached on these tools.
Working toward a smooth transition
ADR UK is working closely with the ONS to try to make the transition as smooth as possible for all external researchers, including those with ADR UK-funded projects. If you have an active project in the ONS SRS, you will be contacted directly to discuss the transition. No action is required until you have been contacted.
You can read the full news bulletin from the ONS. Should you have any questions about the transition or you would like to request a recording of the IDS showcase event from April, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions about the transition concerning an ADR UK-funded project please contact email@example.com.