Integrated Data Service: Twenty projects up and running on new data-sharing platform

Migration of hundreds of projects will accelerate as ‘improved data integration and cross sector collaboration… will drive significant uptake’ of new platform in the coming months, according to national statistician

The new centralised platform to enable government data experts to securely access and share information is already supporting 20 live projects – but hundreds more continue to run on the outgoing system.

 Developed by the Office for National Statistics, the Integrated Data Service (IDS) is currently in public beta mode, with a full live service to launch shortly. The cloud-based platform – which will replace the incumbent Secure Research Service (SRS) – is intended to provide a offers a single unified facility from which accredited analysts can access data to support research and decision-making. Users will be drawn primarily from central government, with some representatives of devolved administrations and other organisations.

National statistician Sir Ian Diamond revealed that, last year, 20 live projects were run from the IDS. The cost of running and ongoing development of the platform stood at £4.3m, he added, as part of a response to a written parliamentary question from Liberal Democrat peer Lord Clement-Jones.

Although the new data system is up and running, the vast majority of analytical projects continye to be housed in the outgoing SRS platform – which hosted 820 over the course of 2023, with an average of 600 at any one time. Running costs for the service, which has been in operation for two decades, totalled £7m during the year.

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“The IDS is built to be future proofed, to better enable the government’s data-sharing agenda in a more effective and efficient way,” Diamond said. “The IDS will grow at pace over the remainder of the programme with a pipeline of additional and transformational capability, data, projects and users which exceed the capabilities of the Secure Research Service. Improved data integration and cross-sector collaboration enabled through cloud technologies will drive significant uptake.

He added: “The SRS grew rapidly upon achieving Digital Economy Act accreditation in 2019, which enabled greater expansion of its data catalogue and user base. An improved trajectory is anticipated for the IDS with many SRS’s data sets, as well as projects, where applicable, migrating to the IDS as part of a transition that is underway.”

The IDS was itself recently accredited to support data sharing under the Digital Economy Act which, in a recent interview with PublicTechnology, “essentially means it’s open for business”, according to ONS chief data officer Fiona James.

The IDS forms part of a “new set of data products that we’re delivering, which combine core reference data sources and matching services around people, businesses and locations”, allowing for different data sets to be brought together, linked and correlated and, ultimately, enabling greater insight, James told PublicTechnology.

Sam Trendall

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