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Data has the potential to transform public and private sector organisations, drive research and development, and increase productivity and innovation. The enormous volume and complexity of data that is now being collected by government departments, businesses and other organisations represents a significant resource within the UK which can be used to the mutual benefit of academic research, organisations and society as a whole. We are investing in a Big Data Network in order to help optimise this resource. Divided into three phases, the Big Data Network will shape our knowledge of society and help us prepare and evaluate better government policies in the future.

Phase 1 - the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN)

In Phase 1 we have invested in the development of the Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) which will provide access to de-identified administrative data collected by government departments for research use. Such data, made accessible for research in ways that prevent the identification of individuals, will provide a robust evidence-base to inform research, and policy development, implementation and evaluation.

The Administrative Data Research Network (ADRN) is a partnership between government departments, research funders, national statistical authorities, and the research community that enables research using linked, routinely collected administrative data. Find out more about ADRN in this animated video.

Phase 2 - Business and Local Government Data

In Phase 2 we are supporting the establishment of Centres with a focus on Business and Local Government Data. The Centres will make data, routinely collected by business and local government organisations, accessible for academics to undertake research that makes a difference: shaping public policies and making business, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective as well as shaping wider society. Data will be made available by the owners in ways that prevent the identification of individuals.

Phase 3 - Third Sector and Social Media Data

Phase 3, further details of which will be released later in 2014, will focus primarily on third sector data and social media data.

In partnership with the Office for National Statistics (ONS), we have conducted a series of public dialogues across the UK to understand how people view using and linking administrative data for research. A report of these dialogues will be available in March 2014.