July 21, 2023

Building trust and collaboration: A closer look at the SATRE project’s public involvement and engagement journey

In the realm of sensitive data research, trust and collaboration are vital for success. That’s why the SATRE project, one of the five DARE UK Driver Projects focused on standardising Trusted Research Environments (TREs) in the UK, has made Public Involvement and Engagement (PIE) a cornerstone of its strategy.
The SATRE project aims to develop an open reference architecture specification for TREs hosting sensitive data in a range of industries: health, manufacturing, commercial, science and social humanities data. SATRE is achieving this through collaborations with the wider UK data research community including, importantly, the public.

The SATRE project is not just about or for data scientists and researchers; it is about the public and how their data is managed. It recognises the importance of involving the public throughout its journey, from inception to the midway point and beyond, believing in the power of collaboration and the value of diverse perspectives. By actively involving the public and key stakeholders, SATRE aims to create a robust framework for TREs that fosters trust, transparency, and innovation. In this blog post, we delve into the key strategies and outcomes of SATRE’s PIE process, highlighting its significance in shaping the future of sensitive data research.

  1. The power of PIE: The SATRE project’s PIE strategy is hinged on the premise that the acceptance of TREs lies in the hands of both the research community and society. By engaging with the TRE community, academic and industrial stakeholders and the public, the SATRE team strives to understand what works well and what doesn’t when it comes to building trust in data research and complying with regulatory and legal requirements. This inclusive approach ensures that the architecture for TREs reflects the needs and expectations of all stakeholders, leading to safer, more efficient data-led research.
  2. Embracing PIE: From the early stages of the project, SATRE has embraced public involvement as a driving force behind its success. Two public members have been core members of the project even before it started. They contributed to the funding proposal and have been actively embedded within the project team, providing valuable insights and perspectives throughout. Public workshops have been conducted to gather in-depth feedback and opinions from participants. These sessions have played a pivotal role in understanding the key elements required to build trust in the DARE UK Driver programme and have shaped the project’s direction accordingly.
  3. A strategy for success: SATRE’s PIE efforts are backed by a well-defined strategy and a dedicated team of public engagement professionals. Right from the start, the team has offered multiple channels for participation, such as online workshops, online Collaboration Cafés and open communication on platforms like Medium and GitHub. SATRE ensures that individuals from diverse backgrounds can freely contribute their thoughts and ideas. We welcome contributions from individuals or groups who are not usually represented.
  4. Impact and lessons learned so far: The outcomes of SATRE’s PIE process have been highly encouraging. Participants in the workshops have provided positive feedback, highlighting their understanding and engagement with the project. The involvement of public members within the core project team has fostered a culture of inclusivity, collaboration, and, dare they say it, fun! A deeply technical project like this one raises the challenge of effectively communicating detailed aspects which are regularly highlighted and will be addressed by future workshops in the remainder of the time available. SATRE’s key learnings and reflections will serve as valuable insights for similar projects in the future.
  5. Forward planning: SATRE has ambitious PIE plans for the future. Firstly, the project aims to conduct more public, in-person engagement sessions across the devolved UK nations (currently working on the fourth one), ensuring a broad representation and gathering valuable insights. In conducting this effort, the team will emphasise learnings from previous public engagement activities carried out by other DARE UK projects, leveraging their collective knowledge and experiences. Members of the public will continue to be welcomed in Collaboration Cafés, fostering an open environment for idea exchange to enhance public understanding and facilitate decision-making. The SATRE team are developing clear and accessible communications materials (explainer videos, infographics and blog posts) on TREs which will be of use longer term for a wide variety of audiences beyond the life of the project.

SATRE’s PIE efforts stand as a shining example. In actively involving the public in the project direction and scope, SATRE has not only ensured that the project’s outcomes reflect the expectations of the public but also fostered a culture of transparency and inclusivity. It has also meant that the importance of ongoing public engagement and communication work within TREs has been emphasised and included within the Standardised Architecture. Through workshops, open communication channels, and the commitment of its dedicated team, SATRE is forging a path towards a more trustworthy and impactful research environment. SATRE’s PIE activities have set a positive precedent for future projects aiming to create meaningful change within the sensitive data landscape.

You can access the draft Standardised Architecture and find out more about how to contribute here SATRE: Standardised Architecture for Trusted Research Environments – Medium

For any comments or questions, please contact the SATRE team:

Learn more about the SATRE Driver Project