Students Staff

10 October 2013

Essex receives £5 million for new Big Data Network centre

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , , , , — Communications Office @ 11:23 am
David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science

David Willetts MP made the announcement at the Mountbatten Memorial Lecture

David Willetts MP, Minister for Universities and Science, has announced plans for a Big Data Network which includes almost £5 million for the Essex-based UK Data Service to form a new service for streamlining research access to data collected by government departments and other agencies.

The money, awarded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), will allow Essex’s data experts to ensure that researchers across the country can effectively and securely access large datasets for research that will directly influence policy and ultimately benefit the public.

Speaking at the Mountbatten Memorial Lecture at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, Mr Willetts outlined the ESRC’s vision for a network of innovative data centres across the UK which will strengthen the country’s competitive advantage in Big Data.

At the heart of the project will be the new Essex-led Administrative Data Service (ADS), jointly formed with the Administrative Data Liaison Service, which is currently managed by the University of St Andrews. The ADS infrastructure will provide a one-stop-shop for finding, learning about, and requesting access to administrative data for research.

Melanie Wright, Principal Investigator of the new ADS and Associate Director of the UK Data Service, explained the importance of yesterday’s announcement: “Research access to administrative and linked data holds enormous potential – for researchers, for government, and for the people of the UK. You cannot make or evaluate public policy without using administrative data.

This Administrative Data Network, consisting of the ADS and four new Administrative Data Research Centres (ADRCs), marks the first phase of the ESRC’s £64 million investment in a Big Data Network. Two further phases involving new centres for business and local government data, and third sector and social media data, will be established in the coming year.

The ADS will play an overarching role in the network, actively bringing together the four ADRCs. Its core responsibilities will be: to provide a first point of contact for administrative data users and owners; be the central point for managing research access requests; ensure there is consistency in standards and practice across the network; engage with data owners, users and the public to develop a culture of effective and secure data sharing to enable better research for the public benefit; and to develop capacity and skills in using administrative data for research.

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