AARNet’s Sensitive Data Service: A Proof of Concept Journey

Dr Frankie Stevens1, Robert Pocklington1, Michael D’Silva1, Gavin Kennedy1, Mike Baker3, Dr Adele Haythornthwaite2, Dr Ilka Kolodziej2

1AARNet, , Australia
2The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia
3Children’s Medical Research Institute, Sydney, Australia

As a critical element of Australia’s research infrastructure landscape, Australia’s Academic and Research Network (AARNet) is intricately involved in providing research relevant infrastructure solutions to Australia’s research community. Such services include CloudStor, the national storage, analysis and management platform in use across Australia by over 90K researchers. AARNet has a strategic priority to support and invest in health and medical research infrastructure, and has been approached by the research community to provide sensitive data services, given the perceived gap in services that provide both the security and privacy required for sensitive data research, and the need to collaborate around this. This presentation will describe the journey AARNet has undertaken with respect to maturing CloudStor to be sensitive data appropriate, not only for the health and medical community, but also for other communities around Australia who deal with sensitive data, such as ecologists, cultural and human genomics researchers. The sector analysis and subsequent Proof of Concept (POC) project will be described in detail during the presentation, with rich demonstrations of the platform, including authorisation workflows, multi-factor authentication, audit trails and more. AARNet’s plans for the subsequent pilot and production systems will also be described. This presentation will inform current CloudStor users of the upcoming new features, and give institutions a preview of functionality that they have been requesting to host and manage their institution’s sensitive research data assets.


Frankie Stevens, AARNet – Dr Frankie Stevens is AARNet’s Associate Director, eResearch, and leads the AARNet’s Health and Medical Strategic Priority. Previously, Frankie has held roles with the Australian Research Data Commons, the NSW state body for eResearch, the Research Data Storage Infrastructure (RDSI) Project and was eResearch Programme Manager at the University of Sydney. Frankie has 20 years’ experience in the Higher Education Sector, having worked in both the Australian and overseas university sectors. She is on the Technical Advisory Board for the Global Research Data Alliance.

Adele Haythornthwaite leads a team of research data consultants at Sydney Informatics Hub (University of Sydney), and formulates research data policy and strategy. Having a background in ecology and IT, Adele has a particular interest in helping researchers work with sensitive data.

Ilka Kolodziej is the Clinical Data Systems Manager at the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre at The University of Sydney. She leads the team that develop clinical data systems for a variety of clinical trials and health-related research projects. These projects often involve international collaboration and require careful consideration towards the collection and management of participant data.

Mike Baker is Head of IT for Children’s Medical Research Institute. Mike has a long history of working with transformational national research infrastructure via the eScience program and the University of Edinburgh in the UK and the University of Sydney and AARNet in Australia.

Robert Pocklington is a full-stack software developer at AARNet working on the Sensitive Data Project.

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