NEWS - Glasgow Caledonian University opens Scotland's first SafePod

Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) is the first organisation in Scotland to host a SafePod, which will provide researchers with a new local facility to analyse data that requires secure access for research. This includes data from the Office for National Statistics, UK Data Service and SAIL Databank.

SafePod Network

SafePods were created by our director Professor Chris Dibben, developed by Chris and Darren Lightfoot, and are run by the Scottish Centre for Administrative Data Research (SCADR) as part of the ADR UK programme, which is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council

The introduction of the SafePod Network overcomes many barriers faced by researchers to undertake vital public benefit research, by providing local secure access to data. Another major benefit is that researchers can access different Data Centres data from the same SafePod. As a result of these improvements, it is expected that the quantity and diversity of public benefit research will be significantly increased over time.

As well as Glasgow Caledonian University, there are several other organisations that now have a SafePod open and available for booking. These include the Universities of Bristol, Central Lancashire, Exeter, Oxford, Nottingham and York. A total of 25 SafePods are planned across the UK with all installations expected to be completed by 2022.

Professor Chris Dibben, SafePod Network Director, said:

Until recently, researchers based in many parts of the UK could not access administrative datasets securely and easily. This probably meant important research for public benefit did not happen. Now, with the SafePods being installed across the UK, no researcher should be far from an access point – transforming the UK research landscape.

A major coup for GCU

Professor Sebastien Chastin worked closely with former Assistant Vice Principal, Research Excellence Professor Jim Woodburn, to secure a SafePod for Glasgow Caledonian University and Professor Martijn Steultjens, Musculoskeletal Health (MSK) research group lead, is managing the facility.

Professor Steultjens said "he was delighted that the new SafePod was now open and urged staff to take advantage of the new facility". 

The School of Health and Life Sciences data science lead, Professor Chastin, described getting the SafePod installed at GCU as a "major coup" and said:

The new SafePod looks brilliant and this is really a big deal for GCU because we are one of the first testing sites to be equipped with a SafePod. This will give researchers and members of the public secure access to an unprecedented amount of quality data in a safe and secure environment. It will definitely cut the time staff spend trying to access data. It provides us with the ability to do science that was not possible previously by cross-referencing this big data and brings forward positive change for the Common Good.

What is a SafePod?

A SafePod is a small prefabricated room, which provides the necessary security and controls to enable a researcher to analysedata that requires secure access. A SafePod includes a door control system, CCTV monitoring and secure cupboard for housing IT and service equipment. A SafePod is also wheelchair accessible and has a height adjustable desk.

In most cases no data needs to be held inside a SafePod, and instead access is provided by secure remote connection to the data-holding organisation’s server.

Booking the GCU SafePod

To book the GCU SafePod click here and to find out more about how the SafePod Network works click here.

Contacting the SafePod Network

For further information about the SafePod Network please contact Darren Lightfoot, SafePod Network Manager on 01334 463901 or email address

For general information about the SafePod Network visit the SafePod Network website.


“SafePod” is a registered trademark of the University of St Andrews © 2021.

This article was published on 01 Nov 2021

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