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DARE UK driver projects

Find out more about our work with DARE UK on projects aiming to transform sensitive data research in the UK.

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DARE UK Driver Projects

In 2023, DARE UK (Data and Analytics Research Environments UK) announced funding for five Driver Projects aiming to transform sensitive data research in the UK. These projects are helping to lay the foundations for a UK-wide network that links together existing trusted research environments (TREs) – highly secure digital environments that provide access to sensitive data for analysis by researchers from approved organisations. 

Research Data Scotland (RDS) have been involved in public engagement on three of these projects - SATRE, SACRO and TELEPORT.

Outputs published

In December 2023, the Driver Projects published outputs of their DARE UK funded work. Read the outputs here.

Learn more about the projects RDS is involved with:

SATRE: Standardised architecture for trusted research environments (TREs) 

The SATRE project is led by the University of Dundee’s Health Informatics Centre (HIC), together with partners from Ulster University, University College London, and the Alan Turing Institute. RDS led public involvement and engagement work on SATRE, which used a community-driven approach to build and implement a reference architecture for TREs. 

SATRE compared three openly available UK TREs – HIC, Turing and University College London – hosting health, manufacturing, commercial, science and humanities data. 

RDS ran public workshops on topics including transparency around the security of TREs, what is logged within TREs, and the process researchers go through to access data.

Find out more about public engagement for the SATRE project

RDS were also involved with the project's initial outputs, which include a specification document to help bring TREs into alignment and videos explaining the purpose of TREs and the benefits of standardisation. 

Work on the SATRE project is ongoing. To hear about the latest developments, visit the project on Medium

Watch the videos:

 

 

SACRO: Semi-automated checking of research outputs 

Combining expertise from the Universities of the West of England, Oxford, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, and Durham with partner support from RDS, Public Health Scotland (PHS), NHS Scotland, and Health Data Research UK (HDR UK), the SACRO project seeks to reduce the operating costs of TREs and the time taken to release research results.

Currently, when researchers analyse data within a TRE, their results are checked by expert staff before researchers can take them out of the TRE. Many common outputs requested by researchers are technically safe, however each requested output is evaluated. This process has been identified as both labour-intensive and time-consuming, leading a previous DARE UK study to identify it as a bottleneck creating a delay in the release of research.

The SACRO project delivers a semi-automated system for checking, with the programme automatically checking many of the common research outputs and flagging to the output checker if there is a risk in a particular output. The SACRO programme does not aim to replace the output checker but to support them to make easy decisions rapidly, freeing up focus for more complex or nuanced cases.

RDS led on SACRO's public engagement work, collaborating on a consensus statement to understand public and stakeholder attitudes towards the use of automation when checking the disclosure risk of research outputs. Click here to explore the project outputs, including the consensus statement.

Learn more about public engagement for the SACRO project.

SACRO has received additional funding to continue its work past the initial DARE UK funded stage. Find out more about the project's current work on Medium.

TELEPORT: Connecting researchers to big data at light speed 

The TELEPORT project is led by researchers from Swansea University and the University of Edinburgh, with support from Public Health Scotland and RDS. It explores ways to automate data federation – a process that brings together data stored across different TREs – to make it much simpler but just as safe and secure as accessing data held in a single location.

The project proposed a new novel model of “pop-up TREs” by federating health data from Wales and Scotland. A key part of this work involves exploring how similar but different approvals processes can be brought together so that data controllers – the people who are ultimately responsible for how data is processed – can have confidence that data is being used appropriately and securely by researchers.

The project’s ultimate ambition is for researchers to be able to apply for health data in both Wales and Scotland through a single application. This will be especially beneficial for projects returning small amounts of data from each nation. The “pop-up TRE” system will ensure the approvals process is maintained for both Scotland and Wales.

TELEPORT's initial DARE UK funded outputs were published in December 2023, and RDS will support the project in its work beyond the initial funding period. Discover the project's outputs.

Learn more about public engagement for the TELEPORT project.

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