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Welsh Government backs data linking project



Swansea University team leads effort to link SAIL Databank with data from local authorities

The Welsh Government is backing a project to look at whether the technology behind a bank of anonymised datasets used for research can be used by the country’s local authorities.

Along with the Economic and Social Research Council, it is funding the effort to harness the SAIL (Secure Anonymised Information Linkage) Databank at Swansea University for wider use. Named the Dataflow Development Project, this would enable councils to securely anonymise, link and share data.

A Welsh Government blogpost on the project says the pilot element of the project will allow local authorities to link their own datasets and, where there are appropriate data sharing agreements in place, share them with others. It should demonstrate how they can use data linking and analysis to help develop and evaluate policies.

The blog says an early initiative will be to analyse data already held in SAIL with that held by the pilot authorities for the Welsh Government early years programme, Flying Start.

Understanding interactions

Among the possible benefits is that authorities will be able to gain a better understanding of the interactions between services, and maybe more about how prevention can provide better outcomes for people.

It adds that a wider potential is that, if the councils decide, they will be able to transfer anonymised datasets into the SAIL Databank. This could increase its value for statistical and research purposes.

A team at Swansea University is leading the project and has been working with pilot authorities to ensure the relevant agreements are in place before the installations can take place.

Image by justgrimes, CC BY-SA 2.0 through flickr

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