1. Accessing the Secure Research Service (SRS)

To use the Secure Research Service (SRS), you must access it through the appropriate safe setting.

Below is the full range of safe setting access options currently available to access the SRS:

  • safe rooms – a controlled room with bookable terminals, based in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) offices in Titchfield and Newport
  • SafePod – a small, self-contained secure room with a single workstation
  • Assured Organisational Connectivity (AOC) – office access
  • Assured Organisational Connectivity (AOC) – remote (home) access
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2. Access permissions

Not everyone can use the access options listed because they are dependent on two factors:

  • your project's pre-determined access level

  • the agreed connectivity routes available to you through your organisation

These factors apply to both new projects and to the addition of new datasets to existing projects.

Please note that accessing the Secure Research Service (SRS) through the correct safe setting is a mandatory requirement for all users of the service. Failure to comply may lead to individual or organisational sanction.

To ensure correct access and use of the SRS by all users, we conduct ongoing remote monitoring.

Project access level

Your project's access level is the first factor that will affect your access ability. Projects are set up with a number of chosen datasets, which have been supplied to the SRS by data owners on the condition that the access stipulations are followed.

It is essential to check the access permissions assigned to all of your chosen project datasets. To do this, please refer to the access and governance information in our Metadata catalogue. Each dataset in the catalogue is marked with an access level from Level 0 to Level 3:

  • Level 1 – safe room and SafePod only

  • Level 2 – safe room, SafePod, and AOC office access

  • Level 3 – safe room, SafePod, AOC office access and AOC remote (home) access

More details on these access options

Your project access level is determined by the lowest level of access achieved across all the datasets you have selected for your project.

For example, if your project has six datasets in total (made up of five Level 3 datasets and one Level 1 dataset), because the lowest level of access is Level 1, (safe room and SafePod), that is the only approved way you can access your project.

Please note, if you are adding new data to an existing project, this may change your access level depending on the selection that you make.

Agreed Organisational Connectivity routes

The second factor that determines your permitted method of access is whether your organisation has achieved Assured Organisational Connectivity (AOC) status.

Safe room or SafePod access is available to any accredited researcher, but to access the SRS from your office or remote (home) location, your organisation must have an Assured Organisational Connectivity (AOC) agreement in place.

An AOC agreement must be in place ahead of any office or home access to the SRS. 

Summary

The way in which you can access your project depends on two factors, the access level of your project andthe organisational connectivity status of your organisation. The following examples show how access levels work.

Example one

Your project datasets permit AOC remote (home) access (Level 3) however your organisation does not have an AOC agreement.

In this case, this access route will not be available to you, and you should either apply for an AOC or access the SRS via safe room or SafePod.

Example two

Your organisation has an AOC agreement allowing office or remote working, however one of your project datasets is a Level 1 dataset (safe room and SafePod only).

The presence of the Level 1 dataset means that regardless of your AOC agreements, the project can only be accessed from a bookable safe room or SafePod.

Example three

Your organisation has an AOC agreement allowing office and remote access and you are working on more than one project, each with different levels of access.

In this case you must ensure that you are accessing the relevant project via the required access route, as determined by your project access level.

For questions regarding project access levels, please contact  srs.customer.support@ons.gov.uk.

For AOC enquiries and applications, please contact srs.connectivity@ons.gov.uk.

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3. Safe rooms

Safe rooms are bookable secure terminals hosted by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). To find out more about them, please email srs.customer.support@ons.gov.uk.

Before a researcher accesses one of our safe rooms, they will need to complete a security declaration.

Our safe rooms are located within our offices in Titchfield (Hampshire) and Newport (Gwent, South Wales). Safe rooms are open Monday to Friday from 9am to 4pm. Any changes to these hours are advertised in advance.

You can find out more information about safe rooms in our Where and how to access Saferooms and Safe Pods (PDF, 195.8 KB) document.

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4. SafePod Network

SafePods are an alternative way of accessing a standardised safe setting, and they have the necessary security and controls to enable researchers to access and use the most secure datasets across a number of locations in the UK and Northern Ireland.

SafePods are primarily based at universities and research institutions and are available for use by approved accredited researchers. You can view a list of SafePod locations and book SafePods online via the SafePod website.

More information accessing about the SafePod Network can be found on the SafePod website. You can also find further details in our Where and how to access saferooms and Safepods (PDF, 195.8 KB) document.

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5. Assured Organisational Connectivity (AOC)

Assured Organisational Connectivity (AOC)

Assured Organisational Connectivity (AOC) is an agreement between your organisation and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to allow direct access to the Secure Research Service (SRS) from your organisation or your home office space.

All AOC agreements must be approved by the ONS and a successful application will satisfy the requested evidence concerning how your organisation meets the standard of physical and system security.

The benefits of AOC

AOC has numerous benefits for organisational researchers:

  • no travel is required to safe rooms; you can access them directly from your work or home office
  • your seat is always guaranteed; safe rooms and SafePods have capacity limits
  • AOC allows 24-hour access, seven days a week to the SRS, so you can get access when it suits you
  • the AOC service is free at the point of use, providing that security standards are observed and followed

For general queries or to find out whether your organisation already has AOC, please email srs.connectivity@ons.gov.uk. You can also request an application pack via this email address.

Please note that AOC and Researcher Accreditation can both be applied for alongside the project application.

AOC office access

There are two AOC foundation forms that need to be completed to allow access from your organisational office:

  1. Assured Organisational Connectivity Organisational Agreement (AOCOA) – this is an overarching agreement signed by someone with organisational authority (for example a Vice Principal or Board Director).

  2. Assured Organisational Connectivity Compliance Client (AOCCC) – this form demonstrates the relevant security and governance controls your organisation has in place.

Engaging with your leadership, IT and technical teams is essential for gathering specialist input during this process.

For questions, advice or guidance, please contact the connectivity team via the email srs.connectivity@ons.gov.uk.

AOC Remote access

Remote (home) access is available as an add-on to the foundation forms, with the completion of this additional form:

  • Assured Remote Access Connectivity Compliance Client (ARACCC) – an additional and optional AOC accreditation that centres around homeworking

For more information, please email srs.connectivity@ons.gov.uk.

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6. Individual access requirements for researchers

There are requirements that need to be followed by researchers before and during your use of the Secure Research Service (SRS):

  • you must have signed the Accredited Researcher Assurance Registration (ARAR) form
  • you must only access the SRS from your specified organisational device
  • if accessing remotely (from home) you must only access through your secure organisational virtual private network (VPN)
  • when accessing remotely you must only do so from the home address specified on your ARAR
  • you must not use phones or other electronic devices while using the SRS except at the start of your session to obtain the one time code to pass Multi-Factor Authentication
  • you must not use phones or other electronic devices while using the SRS

To ensure correct access and use of the SRS by all users, we conduct continuous and ongoing remote monitoring.

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7. Contact details

You can contact the Secure Research Service (SRS) Customer Support team for more information by email srs.customer.support@ons.gov.uk.

If you require initial log on credentials or a password reset, please contact by telephone on +44 1329 447871 between the hours of 9am and 11am and 1pm and 3pm.

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