COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

14 May 2020 update

22 April 2020 update

2 April 2020 update

31 March 2020 update

18 March 2020 update

User questions answered

14 May 2020 update

We now have approval from the ONS, from their Data Governance Committee, to access the Secure Lab from home for this temporary lockdown period, under specific terms and conditions. These are tighter restrictions than for other data owners already listed.

All users who wish to use ONS data in the Secure Lab will need to submit a new project application, which will be considered at a daily triage meeting of the UK Statistics Authority Research Accreditation Panel (RAP). Each application will need to demonstrate how it is meeting both sets of criteria around the A. Purpose of project and B. Urgency and timescales.

Once the project has been formally approved by the RAP, users can submit a new additional agreement for home working via our Qualtrics agreement. There are tighter restrictions for accessing ONS data and evidence must be submitted to show these have been met. One of the tighter restrictions is that the machine used at home (used to remotely connect to the users UK Data Service approved work machine) must be organisational/institutionally provided. At present there are no alternatives other than users going to their workplace to access their computers as usual.

For more information see: Secure Lab data COVID-19 update ONS

22 April 2020 update

We are very pleased to announce that we have been successful in agreeing a set of nine additional conditions of use that will enable users to access non-ONS Secure Access data from home, on a temporary basis. These measures mitigate against the additional risks posed by people working outside their institutional environment and provide assurance to data owners. This applies only to the current temporary lockdown period where users are unable to travel to their work site, and ONLY where data owners have agreed.

Users of non-ONS Secure Access data must complete our Secure Access additional agreement: COVID-19 temporary home working (Non-ONS data) via Qualtrics, where they will need to agree to the additional specified conditions. They will then be permitted to use their organisationally/institutionally approved method of remotely accessing their organisational/institutional office computer, at the location specified in their application, and using only the IP address we have on record.

For more information see: Secure Lab data COVID-19 update

2 April 2020 update

We are very pleased to announce that we have been successful in agreeing a set of twelve temporary additional conditions of use that will enable users to access Special Licence data from home during this COVID-19 pandemic period. These measures mitigate against any additional risks posed by people working from working outside of the institutional environment and provide assurance to data owners.

Users of Special Licence data will need to submit a new online agreement where they will need to agree to the conditions. They will then be permitted to use their institutionally approved VPN to access their approved stand alone organisational/institutional workstation (PC, laptop, other portable device) at the location specified in their Special Licence application for the current temporary lockdown period, and ONLY where specific data owners have agreed.

For more information see: Special Licence data COVID-19 update

31 March 2020 update

As part of our commitment to users, and following on from requests from both users and some data owners to pursue a possible solution, the UK Data Service has been working closely with information security experts and data owners to seek clarity on what temporary additional conditions of use could be used to enable users to access Special Licence data from home. We will keep users updated of any progress.

18 March 2020 update

The UK Data Service expects to run as normal a service as possible during this coronavirus emergency. However all activities are subject to change. We will make alterations to this page when there are changes.

Some specific alterations will apply immediately.

  • All scheduled training events will be transferred online (where possible). See the calendar of training for up to date information.
  • The UK Data Service will be running all meetings virtually.
  • UK Data Service staff are unable to travel to any meeting or event, and where possible alternative virtual solutions should be arranged.
  • Scheduled Safe Researcher Training delivered by the UK Data Service will be transferred online.
  • Access to the physical Safe Room at the University of Essex will be suspended due to government advice for staff to work at home.
  • The Secure Lab will continue to operate as usual, in line with government advice and our working arrangements agreed with the Office for National Statistics.
  • Researchers will not be allowed to access Secure Lab from home or via any Virtual Private Network, and to do so will constitute a breach of their User Agreement.
  • Researchers, using Secure Lab, who are carrying out work which is of “immediate importance to government” may be able to transfer their activities to the ONS’s Secure Research Service. For more details, please contact research.support@ons.gov.uk.

USER QUESTIONS ANSWERED

  • How will I know the service has returned to normal?

Please check our COVID-19 page for any changes to our service.

Training and events

  • Will the training webinars continue?

Yes.  We will continue to deliver our training webinars as usual.  Please visit the calendar of training for all our future courses.  If however, trainers become ill, we will notify you of cancellations as early as possible. 

  • Will face-to-face training continue?

No.  Any scheduled face-to-face training will be temporarily moved online.  This includes Safe Researcher Training (SRT).

Secure Lab

  • Can I access Secure Lab from home?

At present the data controllers will not permit this and the original requirements set out in the Secure Access User Agreement remain in force. You will therefore need to work from your organisational workstation that we have already approved for Secure Lab access. You may need to seek special permission from your institution to allow physical access to your office, if access is currently restricted.

Attempting to access your Secure Lab account from a device that is not already registered with us would constitute a breach of the terms and conditions of Secure Lab access and you would be banned from using data provided by the UK Data Service.

  • I've received an email from the Office for National Statistics that mentions the possibility of accessing data from home. What does this mean for me?

We are aware that the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has made some emergency provision for their Secure Research Service (SRS) to allow those working on research of “immediate importance to government” to be able to work through a VPN to their (ONS) organisationally assured computer. However, the ONS have stated this is highly unlikely to extend to any academic projects. Unfortunately, we are unable to take into account any special circumstances you might have, as this is not our decision.

  • I believe that my research, using ONS Secure Access data in Secure Lab, is of immediate importance to government. What can I do?

Please contact the ONS Research Support team by email: they will make a decision and will discuss your next steps with you. If they deem that your project is of immediate importance to government, then we can transfer your Secure Lab project to the SRS. Please note that if your project is transferred to the SRS, then you will no longer be able to access this within Secure Lab.

  • Can I transfer my Secure Lab project to the SRS, just in case?

We do not recommend this. The ONS are working extremely hard to support projects that they already know are of immediate importance to government: requesting a speculative transfer of your project would increase both their workload and ours.

  • Will my output be checked?

We are attempting to maintain all of our core activities while working from outside of the office. Importantly, we have been liaising with relevant controllers of data within Secure Lab, and have gained approval for our own staff to work remotely, which they would not ordinarily have been able to do. This temporary relaxation of controls means that our staff are able to continue to check outputs.

  • Will my import request be processed?

Yes. We have been liaising with relevant controllers of data within Secure Lab, and have gained approval for our own staff to work remotely, which they would not ordinarily have been able to do. This temporary relaxation of controls means that our staff are able to continue to process import requests.

  • Can I access the Safe Room at the UK Data Archive, University of Essex?

No.  Access via the Safe Room at the UK Data Archive is suspended until further notice. We shall review the situation every two weeks and let you know when this it to be reopened.

  • Will my Safe Researcher Training (SRT) still take place?

Yes. Any scheduled face-to-face training (SRT) delivered by the UK Data Service will be temporarily transferred online.

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We expect to run as normal a service as possible during this COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Please visit our COVID-19 page for the latest information.

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