November 29, 2023

Paving the way for a data-driven future: DARE UK’s infrastructure landscape review

Conducted between November 2022 and June 2023, our latest review spotlights significant trends, such as a growing landscape, the crucial role of interoperability and standards, the centrality of trustworthiness, and the potential for the UK to spearhead interdisciplinary research with sensitive data.

DARE UK (Data and Analytics Research Environments UK) has published the findings of its latest infrastructure landscape review. This comprehensive assessment, a vital component of the programme, provides a snapshot of the fast-evolving landscape of sensitive data research in the UK.

The DARE UK programme has engaged in this national listening exercise since its inception in July 2021 to chart the course for a unified, reliable, and scalable data research infrastructure to better enable sensitive data research for public benefit.

Building on the 2021 initial landscape review, the DARE UK Delivery Team conducted surveys, interviews, and ad hoc consultations between November 2022 and June 2023. The focus was on organisations that provide infrastructure and related data services crucial for conducting research with sensitive data, with a particular interest in Trusted Research Environments (TREs). The prime objective was to gain insights into the digital and structural foundations that underpin sensitive data research across the UK today.

Four key conclusions emerged:

  1. Expanding Landscape: The landscape of data research infrastructure is experiencing remarkable growth, with a notable shift towards data access rather than download
  2. Interoperability and Standards: Interoperability ensures that different systems and applications can work together, allowing for efficient data exchange, while standards provide a common framework for organising and accessing data, fostering consistency and compatibility across diverse platforms. These elements are now seen as critical building blocks for harmonising diverse data resources and facilitating seamless collaboration in research.
  3. Trustworthiness at the Core: Trustworthiness remains the bedrock of this data research ecosystem. Building and maintaining public confidence in data and research processes is imperative for data innovation and realising public benefit.
  4. Global Leadership in Interdisciplinary Research: There exists an exciting opportunity for the UK to lead the charge in interdisciplinary research using sensitive data. The UK is already supporting novel approaches in interdisciplinary sensitive data research through UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and other vehicles. Continuing this effort will be crucial to position the country as a global leader in the landscape.

These findings provide an important steer on the state of play in the sensitive data research ecosystem and many of the key players that are laying the foundation for the future of sensitive data research infrastructure in the UK.


Read the full infrastructure landscape review report (October 2023)