University of Aberdeen receive a SafePod to enable vital public benefit research

University of Aberdeen receive a SafePod to enable vital public benefit research

The University has taken delivery of a new 'SafePod', a small pre-fabricated room which provides the necessary security and controls to enable a researcher to access and work on data that requires secure access.

By joining the UK-wide SafePod Network local users will have access to a range of government, study and survey Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) such as the Data First programme at the Ministry of Justice.  ADR UK are an ESRC funded organization who aim to ensure data gathered in public health research is accessible in a safe manner for all researchers across the UKSecure Research Service, the UK Data Service, SAIL Databank, Health and Social Care Northern Ireland and datasets held by the Scottish Government and National Records of Scotland. The facility will also allow secure access to a huge variety of public health datasets including those created by Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) such as the Data First programme at the Ministry of Justice.   

The SafePod has taken up residence within Crombie Halls Interdisciplinary Hub in Old Aberdeen and is available for approved researchers to use by booking via the SafePod Network website.  

The University joins other organisations using SafePods including universities at Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Durham, London School of Economics and The National Archives.  

Dr Emma Gordon, Director of ADR UK, said: “Making the SafePod Network an integrated part of the ADR UK programme is critical to its long-term success as it will give expert researchers equitable access to the UK’s wealth of public sector data and equal opportunity to create insights which can inform public policies. I am delighted by the progress that has been made in installing the SafePods so far,and can’t wait to see what important new knowledge researchers across the UK are able to unveil as a result.” 

Katie Wilde, Head of Digital Research, University of Aberdeen, said: “We are pleased to be extending our Trusted Research Environments (TRE) and having a SafePod on site will improve access to our academic community reducing their need to travel, giving them more time to continue with their boundary-breaking research into new and exciting areas for the benefit of improving lives across the Scotland, UK and the world.” 

Professor Chris Dibben, SafePod Network Director, said: “Until recently, researchers based in many parts of the UK could not access administrative datasets securely and easily. This probably meant important research for public benefit did not happen. Now, with the SafePods being installed across the UK, no researcher should be far from an access point – transforming the UK research landscape.” 

The SafePod Network is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and run by the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research as part of the ADR UK programme. 

For more information on the SafePod here in the University including who to contact for booking visit this website or email 



What is a SafePod? 

A SafePod is a small standardised safe setting that provides secure access to sensitive data for research purposes. Data can be accessed remotely or locally from a SafePod, dependent on access conditions. SafePods have the following features:  

Door access control system; separate secure storage for IT hardware; CCTV system; Automatic monitor information protection; Height adjustable desk; Air ventilation system; Adjustable lighting; Emergency alarm; Fire alarm; Locker storage for researcher possessions. 

SafePods have been designed with accessibility in mind, including wheelchair access. 

‘SafePod’ is a registered trademark of the University of St Andrews. 

What is administrative data? 

Administrative data is created when people interact with public services, which keep records to carry out their day-to-day work. It also includes sources such as the electoral register and censuses. 

Although not originally created for research, administrative data has great potential to provide insights to help policymakers make better informed decisions. Giving trained researchers access to this data enables them to build a more comprehensive and useful picture of society. 

The greatest benefits from this data occur when data from one government department or service is linked to others. For instance, if we link records about people’s family background, such as income and employment, to how well they do at school, government and civil society can use this information to take action to help disadvantaged children succeed. 

About the SafePod Network 

The SafePod Network (SPN) provides a major advance to the way that data can be securely accessed for research purposes across the UK. 

The SPN is the first service to provide and manage a network of standardised safe settings (SafePods).  All SafePods operate under the same policies and procedures and provide accredited researchers with access to their project datasets from Data Centres that join the SPN. 

The SPN is funded directly by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) until March 2022; thereafter it is expected to be funded by ESRC as part of its Administrative Data Research UK (ADR UK) programme.  

About ADR UK 

ADR UK (Administrative Data Research UK) is a partnership transforming the way researchers access the UK’s wealth of public sector data, to enable better informed policy decisions that improve people’s lives. 

By linking together data held by different parts of government, and by facilitating safe and secure access for accredited researchers to these newly joined-up data sets, ADR UK is creating a sustainable body of knowledge about how our society and economy function – tailored to give decision makers the answers they need to solve important policy questions. 

ADR UK is made up of four national partnerships (ADR England, ADR Scotland, ADR Wales, and ADR NI) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which ensures data provided by UK government bodies is accessed by researchers in a safe and secure form with minimal risk to data holders or the public. 

The partnership is coordinated by a UK-wide Strategic Hub, which also promotes the benefits of administrative data research to the public and the wider research community, engages with UK government to secure access to data, and manages a dedicated research budget. 

ADR UK is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation. 

To find out more, visit or follow @ADR_UK on Twitter. 


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