Skip to Main Content Page Title
Library logo

Library Research Support: Open Research: SafePod: Secure Data Access

This guide is intended to provide advice and support on open access research, including guidance around Durham Research Online (DRO), open access publishing, research data management and related topics.

SafePod Network: Image Banner (Pen and notebook)

The SafePod Network (SPN) is a major research innovation to provide and manage a network of standardised safe settings (SafePods) across the UK for data that requires secure access for research

SafePod Support

What is a SafePod?

A SafePod is a small standardised safe setting that provides the physical security and controls for a researcher to access sensitive datasets. This includes a door control access system, CCTV, a researcher area for the analysis of datasets and a separate secure storage area for IT equipment. A SafePod is also wheelchair accessible and includes a height adjustable desk.

SafePods are primarily based at universities, with the SafePod at Durham University being part of a network of 25 SafePods spread geographically across the UK. The major advantage for a researcher is that they will now be able to securely access different Data Centre datasets from a single local SafePod, removing the geographical, time and cost barriers that have typically been associated with a researcher attending one of the few safe settings across the UK.

Photograph  of Safepod at Durham University

What is the SafePod Network?

The SafePod Network (SPN) is a major research innovation to provide and manage a network of standardised safe settings (SafePods) across the UK for data that requires secure access for research.

All SafePods operate under standardised policies and procedures and provide accredited researchers with access to their project datasets from Data Centres that join the SPN. The SPN is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and run by the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research as part of the ADR UK programme.

The SafePod Network is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and managed by the University of St Andrews. SafePod is a registered trademark of the University of St Andrews.


Data Centres

A wealth of government datasets, as well as study and survey datasets will be available for secure access from SafePods. This includes datasets from:

Additional data centres are expected to join as the service develops. The SafePod can also be used for other local or confidential work that requires the use of a safe setting, and Institutions can also arrange for their datasets to be made available via the SafePod Network.

How to access the SafePod
Location and opening times
  • Hours of opening: Monday to Friday, 10am - 4pm.
  • The SafePod is location on Level 1 of the Bill Bryson Library. This is the floor below the entrance level; access to Level 1 is via stairs or lift.

How to book the SafePod

Bookings to access any SafePod are made via the SafePod Network's website, and not directly with the institution hosting the SafePod. To access the SafePod at Durham University, please follow the steps below:

  • Ensure you are an approved researcher with a project approval in place with a Data Centre that has joined the SafePod Network.
  • Register as a researcher with the SafePod Network. Registration will involve completing a short online questionnaire on SafePod Network User policies.
  • Once your registration is complete, make a booking request for the Durham University's SafePod through the SafePod Network website.
  • Your SafePod booking request will then be sent to your chosen Data Centre. If approved, a booking confirmation email will then be sent to you.

When to request a booking?

SafePod booking requests can be made at anytime. Please note that short notice booking requests (within three days of the booking date) will need to be approved by Durham University first and then the Data Centre you wish to access data from.

On the day of your booking...

On the day of the booking come to the Service Desk by the Entrance of the Bill Bryson Library and ask for the on-duty SafePod Coordinator. Please ensure you bring valid identification with you and follow the instructions provided in the booking confirmation email for use of the SafePod. 

Further Information

For more information about the Durham University SafePod, please contact Further information about the SPN and SafePod locations is available from their website at

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Who can use the SafePod?
    The SafePod is available to all researchers, including postgraduate researchers, at Durham University and other local institutions. you can see the location of a SafePod local to you via the SafePod Network.
  • How is access to dataset(s) provided?
    Researchers will remotely access datasets via the SPN’s secure VPN connection to a data centre’s web portal. Researchers must then enter their project credentials to gain access to their datasets. Statistical disclosure control procedures will be agreed between the researcher and the data centre.
  • How can I request access to a dataset?
    Accredited researchers may access datasets as part of an approved project agreed with a participating data centre. Links to researcher accreditation processes are provided on this page, where known. Please contact the relevant data centre directly for more information and to request access to a specific dataset. 
  • How can I book a SafePod?
    Bookings are made via the SafePod Network, and not directly with the institution hosting the SafePod. Please follow the guidance provided on this page under Bookings.
  • I have a specific user requirement (e.g. I need to use an accessible keyboard and mouse). How should I request this?
    Please provide all the information you can when requesting a booking through the SafePod Network. Once a booking is confirmed, please contact the SafePod Coordinators at Durham to discuss any requirements so that where we are able to, these can be arranged for you in advance.

Data Providers: ONS

Office for National Statistics Logo

Data Providers: SAIL Databank

SAIL Data Bank

Data Providers: HSCNI

HSC Northern Ireland Honest Broker Service

National Records of Scotland

Data Providers: UK Data Service

UK Data Service Logo (link to UK Data Service)

Data Providers: Scottish Government

Scottish Government: Request our data

Data Providers: ADR UK

Logo for Administrative Data Resources UK

undefined  undefined  undefined  undefined  undefined  undefined