BY BILL PHILLIPS
Ever wonder what happens with the information you put on the census? Or, for some, your taxes?
It become data. Researchers use that data to study everything from household incomes to socioeconomics. As of Wednesday researchers at the University of Northern British Columbia and around the region now have a secure connection to some of that data. The university officially opened its Research Data Centre, which gives access to Statistics Canada population, household survey and administrative microdata.
“Statistics Canada is delighted to mark the launch of the Research Data Centre at the University of Northern British Columbia,” said Anil Arora, Chief Statistician of Canada. “This centre will promote scientific research by making Statistics Canada population and household microdata available to researchers. The work that will be done here will inform public policy and public debate, while maintaining the confidentiality of the data involved.”
Prior to the opening of the UNBC Research Data Centre, researchers from northern B.C. travelled to larger centres, including Vancouver and Ottawa, to access the secure computers necessary to conduct their work.
“It’s confidential data and there are quite a few procedures in place to keep the data confidential and keep our facility secure,” said Cindy Hardy, academic director of the UNBC Data Research Centre. “Researchers apply to use the centre and become employees of StatsCanada when have an approved project.
Approved researchers, which can include faculty members, graduate students and others in the community, will now be able to access that same survey, census and administrative microdata in the data centre located on the first floor of the Geoffrey R. Weller Library at the UNBC Prince George campus.
“Supporting health research that seeks to make a difference in the lives of Northern B.C. residents plays a key role in our program,” says Paul Winwood, Associate Vice President, Northern Medical Program, UNBC, and Regional Associate Dean, Northern BC, UBC Faculty of Medicine. “This new centre will help both our researchers and their colleagues at UNBC, and in the north, to more easily pursue their scientific queries.”
The facility at UNBC is a Branch Research Data Centre affiliated with the British Columbia Inter-University Research Data Centre, which is, in turn, a member of the Canadian Research Data Centre Network.
The UNBC Research Data Centre received support from Statistics Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Northern Medical Program and Northern Health.
UNBC is one of 29 University campuses in Canada to host a Research Data Centre.