Ethics & security

The secure storage and ethical use of data is a primary focus for us

Activities supported by the DDI programme are underpinned by the high-powered analytics service, the Edinburgh International Data Facility (EIDF).

The EIDF is operated and managed by the University of Edinburgh’s super-computing facility, the EPCC.

Datasets used by researchers in DDI-supported activities and projects will come from different sources, some captured as part of research, others from across the public and private sectors, from datasets with low security requirements (transport data, for example) up to highly sensitive data (such as personal data).

Researchers and data scientists at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt will be analysing data from a variety of sources provided with permission for research and aimed at finding solutions to industry and societal challenges.

Where data is highly sensitive, it will be strictly controlled and anonymised before it is used. EPCC already has experience of this through the National Data Safe Haven, which they have operated for NHS Scotland since 2014. Privacy impact assessments (PIAs) will also be carried out for those research projects that involve data about people. PIAs are used to make clear why data is being used and how it is regulated. They identify risks to individuals and suggest measures to reduce those risks.

Data Protection Officers at the University of Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt University can provide information about privacy impact assessments and are the points of contact for enquiries relating to personal data.

All DDI research proposals go through the standard ethical review processes associated with research.  These reviews are carried out by Ethics Committees within the University of Edinburgh, or Heriot-Watt University when applicable, and overseen by national bodies wherever possible (for example the Public Benefit and Privacy Panel for health and social care data).

As part of the DDI Hub, Edinburgh’s Futures Institute (EFI), the Centre for Technomoral Futures aims to unify technical and moral modes of future-building expertise in new models of research, education, design and engagement that directly serve the goals of sustainable, just and ethical innovation.

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