Providing service continuity for research
When the UK locked down on 23 March 2020, the UK Data Service quickly demonstrated its commitment and expertise to continue to support researchers and data providers. The effectiveness of our policies, processes, people and technology meant we could maintain service continuity remotely, even under the most challenging conditions throughout the pandemic.
Within two weeks of lockdown we had gained early agreement from data owners for staff to process data at home, building on the already stringent measures we operate under our ISO 27001 Information Security certification. We ensured researchers could continue to make their way through the Approved Researcher accreditation process remotely, in readiness to access the controlled data they need for their projects. And in early April 2020, we conducted our first training session online to enable continued delivery of Safe Researcher Training (SRT).
Online training and events
As a digital service, the UK Data Service has been successfully delivering virtual data skills and data management training for years, so adapting the SRT was straightforward. Our extensive experience of hosting online workshops meant we were quickly able to convert any scheduled face-to-face workshops and conferences to online events.
COVID-19 rapid research response
We were in a strong position to support rapid research into the pandemic and national data providers including Understanding Society and the Centre for Longitudinal Studies (CLS) started depositing COVID-19 datasets in July. Our first online data dive was held in October 2020 as part of the UKRI response to COVID-19 and explored the social and economic impacts of the pandemic. By bringing together major social, economic and population studies in a single place, we provided an early opportunity for researchers, policy and charity experts to collaborate and draw out critical questions about the impacts of the pandemic that will need to be addressed in the future.