A Profile of the SAIL Databank on the UK Secure Research Platform

Main Article Content

Kerina H Jones
David Vincent Ford
Simon Thompson
Ronan Lyons



The Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank is a national data safe haven of de‑identified datasets principally about the population of Wales, made available in anonymised form to researchers across the world. It was established to enable the vast arrays of data collected about individuals in the course of health and other public service delivery to be made available to answer important questions that could not otherwise be addressed without prohibitive effort. The SAIL Databank is the bedrock of other funded centres relying on the data for research.


SAIL is a data repository surrounded by a suite of physical, technical and procedural control measures embodying a proportionate privacy-by-design governance model, informed by public engagement, to safeguard the data and facilitate data utility. SAIL operates on the UK Secure Research Platform (SeRP), which is a customisable technology and analysis platform. Researchers access anonymised data via this secure research environment, from which results can be released following scrutiny for disclosure risk. SAIL data are being used in multiple research areas to evaluate the impact of health and social exposures and policy interventions.   


Lessons learned and their applications include: managing evolving legislative and regulatory requirements; employing multiple, tiered security mechanisms; working hard to increase analytical capacity efficiency; and developing a multi-faceted programme of public engagement. Further work includes: incorporating new data types; enabling alternative means of data access; and developing further efficiencies across our operations.


SAIL represents an ongoing programme of work to develop and maintain an extensive, whole population data resource for research. Its privacy-by-design model and UK SeRP technology have received international acclaim, and we continually endeavour to demonstrate trustworthiness to support data provider assurance and public acceptability in data use. We strive for further improvement and continue a mutual learning process with our contemporaries in this rapidly developing field.

Article Details

How to Cite
Jones, K. H., Ford, D. V., Thompson, S. and Lyons, R. (2019) “A Profile of the SAIL Databank on the UK Secure Research Platform”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 4(2). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v4i2.1134.

Most read articles by the same author(s)

<< < 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 > >>