Two leading research organisations have launched a £44 million initiative to make public sector administrative data available to research teams.
The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has set up the Administrative Data Research Partnership (ADRP) to provide a secure route for accredited researchers to use de-identified data from government departments, councils and health authorities.
It said the move will provide the infrastructure in support of ambitions for the UK to be a world leader in big data.
UKRI will host a strategic hub for the data, scheduled to become operational by March 2019, with a new team to bring together research teams and public sector data owners. Further details should become available later this year.
Among the examples of issues that could be addressed with the data are measuring levels of need among children, assessing the financial security of older people, understanding business productivity, and exploring the factors affecting how people enter and leave the labour market through their working ages.
ESRC said the Digital Economy Act of last year has paved the way for setting up the ADRP, which will adhere to established ethical practices in handling data.
The UK Statistics Authority will be in charge of accrediting researchers, projects and data processors.
Science Minister Sam Gyimah (pictured) said: “Big data can unlock answers to big challenges with the ultimate goal of improving lives. Understanding links between childhood health problems and their education or understanding how employees report their wellbeing can help tailor appropriate support to ensure people achieve their full potential.
“Putting big data at the fingertips of experts will help the UK maintain its place as a world-leader in innovative problem solving, a key ambition of our modern Industrial Strategy.”