NEWSBYTE The University of St Andrews has been awarded £1.5 million from the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), to create and manage what is being termed a ‘SafePod Network’ (SPN).

ESRC is part of UK Research and Innovation, which draws together the UK’s seven research councils with Innovate UK and Research England, to promote UK research and new technologies, in line with the revamped industrial strategy.

Designed and developed at the University, a SafePod is a secure data access facility, designed to replicate a traditional safe setting. It includes a range of physical security features, such as a door control access system and a CCTV camera, along with secure storage areas for IT hardware and equipment.

No datasets are held within a SafePod. Instead, a secure connection is provided from a SafePod to a data centre for a researcher to view and analyse their project datasets, according to an announcement today from the University.

A SafePod is compact in size for placement into organisations where space may be at a premium, it adds.

The main objective of the SPN programme is to improve public benefit research through the provision of ‘micro safe settings’, which will support, strengthen and widen remote access to research datasets held by data centres across the UK.

Darren Lightfoot, SPN Manager at the University of St Andrews, said: “The major benefit of a SafePod to a researcher is that they will be able to have local remote access to project datasets, without the need for long distance travel to a dedicated safe setting.

“For a participating data centre, SPN provides a low-cost, secure platform to widen access to their datasets across the UK for research purposes. As a SafePod design and policies are standardised, a single accreditation for use of a SafePod by a data centre is all that is required for them to accredit the full network of SafePods.”

The call is now open for eligible organisations to apply for a SafePod and to be part of the SafePod Network. Further details about the call and a brochure about SPN and SafePods is available from the ESRC website.