SafePod Network

The SafePod Network is a new service designed to improve data research and access for the public benefit, by providing and operating a network of independent safe settings (known as SafePods).  Unlike traditional safe settings, SafePods will support access to research datasets from multiple participating data centres across the UK. 

What is the SafePod Network?

The SafePod Network provides a major step change in the way that researchers access datasets and data centres can provide datasets in the UK.  It comprises of:

  • A network of SafePods based within higher education institutions and other RCUK funded organisations;
  • A web application to provide information about the SPN and booking of SafePods;
  • Policies, procedures and assurances for the operation and management of SafePods;
  • An IT service to provide secure access to research datasets;
  • A CCTV service to enable data centres to view and monitor activity within a SafePod;
  • A dedicated User Support Service to assist stakeholders with SPN enquiries;
  • An Advisory Board to plan and make decisions on the long term objectives of the SPN.

The SafePod Network has been developed by Professor Chris Dibben (University of Edinburgh) and Darren Lightfoot (University of St Andrews), who are both part of the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR). The Network is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), which is part of UK Research and Innovation.

The SafePod Network is due to launch on 23 August 2021.

What is a SafePod?

SafePod is a small prefabricated safe setting that can provide access to sensitive or confidential datasets for research purposes. A SafePod has many features including a door control access system, a CCTV system, a researcher area for the analysis of datasets and a secure service area for storage of IT hardware and SafePod equipment.

The South West Doctoral Training Partnership kindly organised and hosted a SafePod Webinar on the 16th March 2021. The event covered an introduction to SafePods and the SafePod Network, SafePod example research projects and practical guidance for accessing datasets and to book and use SafePods.  The links to the slides and video for this event are available below:

Benefits for researchers and for data centres

The major benefit of SafePods for researchers is that they will have local access to research datasets, without the need for possible long distance travel to a dedicated safe setting provided by a data centre. 

For data centres, the SafePod Network provides a low cost and secure platform to widen access to their research datasets across the UK.  As SafePod policies and procedures are all standardised, a single SafePod accreditation from a data centre is all that is required to accredit all of the SafePods in the network.

Further information

For further information please visit their website or take a look at ADR UK's SPN webpage

Alternatively, please contact Darren Lightfoot, SafePod Network Manager on 01334 463901 or email

You can also follow them on Twitter - @SafePodNetwork

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