Landscape Review

As part of the initial stages of the programme, DARE UK commissioned a landscape review of existing data research infrastructure across the UK. This involved a comprehensive series of interviews and workshops with over 150 technologists, researchers and others to better understand their experiences and needs.

Initial Landscape Review (October 2021)

The first phase of DARE UK is an extensive listening exercise to uncover what a national data research infrastructure that is joined-up, trustworthy and supports research at scale for public good should look like. As a key part of this, we commissioned an initial review of the existing data research infrastructure across the UK.

The purpose of the review – undertaken by management consultancy and analytics company Carnall Farrar during August and September 2021 – was to better understand the experiences and unmet needs of the key users of existing infrastructure. 

Six themes of unmet needs were heard from participants: 1) data and discoverability, 2) access and accreditation, 3) IT infrastructure, 4) capability and capacity, 5) maintaining trust, and 6) funding and incentives. There was widespread support for DARE UK and its ambitions, and frustration with current system efficiency. DARE UK has an opportunity to lead a coordinated effort towards a better system for research and innovation. 

The findings of the initial landscape review – which is only one of a series of engagement exercises as part of DARE UK Phase 1 – are invaluable for informing the design and delivery of a novel and innovative UK-wide data research infrastructure. The final report and recommendations from this initial landscape review were published in October 2021. Read the full landscape review report (October 2021)


Infrastructure Landscape Review (October 2023)

Building on the October 2021 initial landscape review, the DARE UK Delivery Team embarked on another expedition between November 2022 to June 2023, conducting surveys, interviews, and ad hoc consultations. The focus was on organisations that provide infrastructure and related data services crucial for conducting research with sensitive data. Specific attention was paid to Trusted Research Environments (TREs), with the prime objective of gaining profound insights into the digital and structural foundations that underpin sensitive data research across the UK.

Four key conclusions emerged:

  1. Expanding Landscape: The data research infrastructure is rapidly expanding, shifting towards data access over dissemination, revolutionising sensitive data research.
  2. Interoperability and Standards: Interoperability and standards are pivotal for unifying data resources, fostering seamless collaboration, and advancing research.
  3. Trustworthiness at the Core: Trust is the cornerstone of the data research ecosystem, underpinning data innovation and public benefit.
  4. Global Leadership in Interdisciplinary Research: The UK is poised to lead in interdisciplinary research using sensitive data, tackling global challenges and pioneering solutions.

These key findings provide an important steer on the state of play in the data research ecosystem and key collaborators that can help lay the foundation for the future of data research infrastructure in the UK. Read the full infrastructure landscape review report (October 2023).