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The "Five Safes": A framework for planning, designing and evaluating data access solutions

Ritchie, Felix



The ‘Five Safes’ is a popular way to structure thinking about data access solutions. Originally used mainly by statistical agencies and social science academics , in recent years it has been adopted more widely across government, health organisations and private sector bodies.
This paper explains the Five Safes, how the concept is used to organise and simplify decision-making, and how it helps to address concerns of different constituencies. We show how it aligns to recent regulation, anticipating the shift towards multi-dimensional data management strategies. We provide a number of practical examples as case studies for further information.
We also briefly consider what issues the Five Safes does not address, and how the framework sits within a wider body of work on data access which challenges traditional data access models.


Ritchie, F. (2017, September). The "Five Safes": A framework for planning, designing and evaluating data access solutions. Paper presented at Data for Policy 2017, London, UK

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (unpublished)
Conference Name Data for Policy 2017
Start Date Sep 6, 2017
End Date Sep 7, 2017
Acceptance Date Aug 28, 2017
Online Publication Date Sep 20, 2017
Publication Date Sep 21, 2017
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords confidentiality, data access, data management, governance
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information Title of Conference or Conference Proceedings : Data For Policy 2017


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