Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL) Observatory data is accessed through the UKDS Amazon Web Services WorkSpace Platform.

Data accessed in this way cannot be downloaded. Once researchers and their projects are approved, they can analyse the data remotely within their WorkSpace. We provide access to statistical and office software to make remote analysis and collaboration secure and convenient.

Please follow the application steps and guidance below to complete your application to access Smart Energy Research Lab (SERL).

Researcher requirements:

SERL data can be only be accessed by researchers who are able to fulfil the following requirements:

  • You must complete Safe Researcher training and have Accredited Researcher Status administered by the ONS before the project can be approved and access granted (it is recommended you apply for this as soon as possible to speed up the application).
  • Postgraduate students can apply however their supervisor(s) must also apply for AR Status

System requirements:

SERL data is accessed via the Amazon Web Services WorkSpace App., which must be installed on your desktop/laptop.

Multi Factor Authentication is used so you must also have a smart phone/tablet with an Authenticator app installed for you to access the MFA code when logging in.

  • Login/Register with the UK Data Service.
  • Add the required Secure Access dataset(s) to your account, then follow the prompts to add the dataset(s) to a registered project, or create a new project. The SERL Observatory data is registered under Study Number: 8666.
  • Within the project, click ‘Request Access’ to display the steps to be completed.
  • Click ‘Complete actions’, instructions and links to any forms that must be submitted will be displayed under each step.
  • The project lead must download and complete the SERL Research Project application form.
  • The project lead must complete the ethics self-assessment form (the download link can be found in the project application form) and evidence internal ethics approval from their institution.
  • Each team member (including the project lead) must download and complete the Secure Access User Agreement. If we already have a completed User Agreement on record for you, this step will already be marked as complete.
  • Please email your completed documents with your project ID in the subject line to: secure.applications@ukdataservice.ac.uk.

Each team member must be registered with the UK Data Service. The project lead can then add each team member to the project. To do this the project lead should:

  • Log into their UK Data Service account.
  • Expand the ‘Data’ section and then click on ‘Projects’.
  • Click the relevant project title, where a number of tabs will be visible, e.g. Projects, Datasets, Members.
  • Click ‘Members’, then ‘New member’.
  • Enter the UK Data Service registered email address for the team member you want to add.
  • Click ‘Add member’ and their details will be shown in the ‘Project team invitations’ section of the screen. An invitation will automatically be sent.
  • Each team member will receive an invitation email to ask whether they wish to be added to the project.
  • Once a team member accepts the invitation to join the project, the Project Lead should check their details are correctly displayed in ‘Project team members’.

Each project member will be able to see the project and associated datasets within their own account and should complete any actions required. The project lead should collect the Secure Access User Agreements from all team members and email them with the project application and Ethics self-assessment form to: secure.applications@ukdataservice.ac.uk. Additional researchers can be added to teams at a later stage with data owner approval.

 

Completing the Secure Access User Agreement

Before access is given, each team member and a suitable delegated authority in their institution must sign our Secure Access User Agreement.

The form can be downloaded under the step “Complete Secure Access User Agreement”

What is the Secure Access User Agreement?

The User Agreement is a legally binding contract between you, your organisation and the University of Essex, which is the legal entity for the UK Data Service.

The User Agreement was written by the University of Essex’s legal team, so we are not a signatory party to the Agreement and we are unable to accept edited versions of the Agreement. The Agreement outlines the terms and conditions of use and includes:

  • Agreement that you will complete our training.
  • Information about your security responsibilities, e.g. not sharing your password, nor disclosing or compromising any personal information.
  • Information about penalties and breaches, set out in our Licence Compliance Policy.
  • Our outputs release policy.
  • Our citation and copyright requirements.

The Agreement is a per person, per organisation agreement. You therefore only need to complete it once whilst you are at your current institution – if you were to move organisation and still require access to SERL data, then you would need to complete and submit a new Agreement.

Countersigning the Agreement

Your Agreement must be countersigned by someone who can accept legal responsibility for your data access on behalf of the entire organisation.

You should therefore approach your organisation’s Research and Contracts Office or equivalent, to arrange for an appropriate person to countersign your Agreement.

Line managers, PhD supervisors, Heads of Department/School are not acceptable signatories. The exception to this is researchers from the University of Essex, who should ask their Head of Department to countersign their Agreement, as the University’s legal team cannot countersign their own Agreement.

AR Status and Safe Researcher Training

Applying for AR status

To access SERL data each team member must have Accredited Researcher Status.

Completion of a Safe Researcher Training course is a required to gain AR Status. Applications for AR Status must be made through the ONS Research Accreditation Service (RAS).

To make an application please register for an account through the RAS registration system or if you already have one, login to your RAS account.

Before we can submit your project application to the SERL Data Governance Board for approval the AR numbers for each team member must be provided.

Completing Safe Researcher Training

The Safe Researcher Training (SRT) course covers:

  • Data security and personal responsibility, including legal background, security model, breaches and penalties.
  • Statistical Disclosure Control – how to make statistical outputs safe and what principles are used.
  • Using the Secure Lab* – how to use the interface and how to prepare and request data imports and suitable statistical outputs.

If you have not attended SRT you will be invited to book on one of our courses. We run these online approximately every three weeks.

If you have trained with another SRT provider within the past 3 years, then we will verify your attendance and you will be asked to complete a short Moodle course that covers the use of our Secure Lab.

The SRT course we deliver is valid for Accredited Researcher (AR) applications made via ONS, if you’re applying for AR status and are attending training with us, then you can confirm your training date to ONS and they will verify your attendance and successful pass with us before issuing you with AR status. AR status is valid for a period of five years.

If you completed SURE researcher training with the UK Data Service before 1st January 2019 you will need to complete the SRT course as this is the most up-to-date and relevant SRT course to protect data privacy and required to access Secure Lab.

If you have not logged into Secure Lab for more than 3 years, you must complete a short online MoodleX refresher course before accessing Secure Lab.

Completing the AWS WorkSpace Set Up form

In order to access the WorkSpace you will need to complete the AWS WorkSpace Set Up form. This should take no more than a couple of minutes.

Creating your account

The Technical Access team will set up your SERL Amazon WorkSpace and you will receive an email from Amazon containing instructions on how to set up your AWS account.

The team will contact you to advise that the account has been set up and to arrange a Zoom meeting to provide you with the QR code (authentication code) to be used when logging in.

Receiving the Code

Before joining the zoom meeting please install the Microsoft Authenticator app on your phone.

During the Zoom a member of the Technical Access access team will share the screen to display the QR code, which you will scan into the Authenticator app.

You will be guided through this and it should take no more than 5 minutes. The Technical Access team will be happy to answer any other questions you have during this meeting.

Following receipt of your application and evidence, our Data Access team will process your application as soon as possible.

Our team screen your application for completeness, including what you intend to do with the data; your proposed use of the data is justified and that your project will deliver clear public benefit.

Once it passes the initial screening, then it progresses to further checks, including feasibility assessment, ethics and methodology checks, if needed.

When we are satisfied with the quality of the application it will be sent to the SERL Data Governance Board who will review your project.

If the SERL Data Governance Board approve your project, you will be given access to your requested data only for the purposes specified for your project.

We will confirm the decision to you by email. If you have completed all the elements of the application, including attending Safe Researcher training, before we confirm the decision, then you are likely to get access immediately.

Turnaround times

We will start screening your application as soon as possible and keep you informed of the progress of your application throughout the process.

The application process starts from when you submit all your application documents to us, rather than when you add the dataset(s) to your project.

If the application is well prepared and approval is granted with no changes required, you can expect to gain access to the data in approximately 3-4 months.

If you require an update on a current application, contact our helpdesk. Please include your name, institution and Project ID in the form.