ARCHIVED: Completed project: Sensitive data analysis service for research

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Primary UITS contact: Esen Tuna

Last update: January 23, 2017

Short description: The Research Technologies division of UITS is assuming responsibility for the Windows sensitive data server operated by the School of Public and Environmental Affairs (SPEA), and will extend availability of the service to researchers at Indiana University Bloomington (and eventually university-wide).

Longer description: Computing with data deemed sensitive (classified as Critical or Restricted in institutional data terminology) is an important and growing need within IU's research computing environment.

At IUB, SPEA has developed a service called Restricted Access Data Remote Server (RADaRS), which delivers specially secured access to a virtualized Microsoft Windows server environment for such data. This service is delivered in conjunction with the Social Science Research Commons (SSRC), which provides user access controls and custodianship over the data. The current service aligns with guidelines established by common social science data providers, including the Inter-university Consortium on Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the Indiana Department of Education, and the Bureau of Labor Standards.

Given the growing demand for sensitive data analysis, its applicability across many schools, departments, and campuses, and the mandate to minimize the university's risks with regard to data exposures, this service has become an official UITS service to be operated by the Research Technologies division.

Outcomes: The tactical outcomes of this project include:

  • Expanding the current service to be able to meet the growing needs of the IU research community while managing the risks of working with sensitive data
  • Evolving the underlying technology and infrastructure to improve reach, scale, security, and costs
  • Developing dedicated staffing within UITS Research Technologies who are knowledgeable about governing regulations and experts regarding the technical options for implementation
  • Developing a sustainable financial model for these services, which may include charge-back to funded projects
  • Formalizing collaborations around sensitive data service development and delivery with key units, including OVPR, ORA, SSRC, SPEA, Indiana CTSI, Regenstrief, clinical affairs schools, ITSO, and CACR

The strategic outcomes of this project are to provide IU strategic advantages for:

  • Carrying out its missions in research, education, and care delivery
  • Increased competitiveness in pursuing external funding, especially in health care and the social sciences
  • Reducing risks to the university's data, subjects, and reputation

Milestones and status:

This project builds upon many of the milestones accomplished in a previously completed project; see ARCHIVED: Completed project: Private and sensitive data management (EP Action Item 59) for additional details.

  • October 2015: Approval of funding and management plan for transition of RADaRS to RT
  • November 10, 2015: Meeting with SSRC, SPEA, and RT staff to plan transition based on IU and agency policies, data custodian procedures, and technical procedures; Kevin Wilhite (RT/Research Analytics) to revise role as secondary data custodian for the period from November 2015 to January 2016.
  • November 18, 2015: Technical meeting with HELPnet, SPEA, and RT staff to review technical requirements and implementation of current RADaRS system
  • November 20, 2015: Completed hiring of Research Data Services manager and technical advisor, Esen Tuna; start date of January 4, 2016
  • December 1, 2015: Transition costs of RADaRS VM (UITS/II) and systems administration (HELPnet) from SPEA to RT
  • December 2015: Collect and categorize data security requirements and agreements from existing and potential data providers
  • January 15, 2016: Transition technical lead position from SPEA (Chris England) to the RT Research Data Services manager and technical advisor (Esen Tuna)
  • January 15, 2016: Install Research Data Services manager/technical advisor as secondary data custodian to SSRC Director (Emily Meanwell); execute updates on existing data agreements
  • January 15, 2016: Addition of RT staff to the ssrcdata email address; creation of the rtrds ticket queue in RT Request Tracker system; and automatic redirects created
  • February 1, 2016: Complete update of online documentation for service on SPEA, SSRC, UITS, and RT sites
  • February 29, 2016: Training from HELPnet and SPEA staff to RT and SSRC staff on technical procedures regarding RADaRS management.
  • March 2016: Inclusion of RADaRS staff in UITS/RT CTSI oversight meetings; integrated RADaRS updates into monthly CTSI PPP reporting.
  • March 30, 2016: Complete account and dataset renewal process with existing users, purging expired and unneeded accounts and data
  • April-May 2016: Begin to advertise service as a IUB-wide resource
  • May-July 2016: Conduct technical feasibility study and cost analysis of service transition to IUanyWare and/or Karst Desktop service, in conjunction with relevant teams within the Systems area of RT
  • April 2016: Completed a new data agreement with the Bureau of Labor Statistics
  • April 2016: Documented RADaRS service workflow and infrastructure, and presented RADaRS service model to CAITS
  • May 2016: Workflow started for a new project proposal on "Fragile Families" dataset from Princeton; completed NIH "Protecting Human Research Participants Certification" required for the Princeton dataset
  • June 2016: Updated RADaRS Action Plan and Service Owner Agreement documents and announced Research Technologies ownership of the service in IT Monitor
  • June 2016: Analytics software licenses renewed for a year
  • June 2016: MoU of Service Agreement signed with HELPnet; RADaRS HELPnet service charged to RT's SDATA account as of December 2015
  • July 2016: Analytics software licenses including SAS and SPSS are renewed for a year before expiration dates
  • July 2016: BLS agent agreement for NLSY97 restricted dataset application is approved and the dataset is obtained
  • August 2016: RADaRS Service is presented at the School of Public Health Open House
  • September 2016: Met with SPH-IT to present RADaRS and identify suitable research projects
  • October 2016: A pilot service dashboard is designed with HELPnet to provide usage monitoring and high-level service status reporting. The experimental dashboard is operational and provides monitoring results from June 2016 onwards.
  • November 2016: Prepared an action plan to improve the service utilization and impact assessment
  • December 2016: Formal description of the service model is completed

UITS staff:

  • Esen Tuna, Manager and Technical Advisor, Scientific Data Services: Technical lead and secondary data custodian
  • Eric Wernert, Director, Visualization & Analytics: Project oversight
  • Scott Michael, Manager, Research Analytics: SSRC liaison and analytics software
  • Kevin Wilhite, Research Analytics: Backup data custodian
  • Alan Tucker: HELPnet representative
  • Richard Meraz, Manager, Advanced Biomedical IT Core: Liaison for needs of IUSM, Regenstrief, and Indiana CTSI


  • Emily Meanwell, Director, SSRC: Faculty liaison, primary data custodian
  • Chris England, IT Director, SPEA: Original service developer and technical lead
  • Kosali Simon, Professor, SPEA: Original project sponsor
  • James Russell, College IT Office

This is document sdas in the Knowledge Base.
Last modified on 2018-01-18 17:41:07.

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