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Don't just take our word for it, hear from some of our LASER users across Health, Retail and Transport on the difference it's meant for them and their research.

Build trust and relationships with research partners

"LASER’s been really important in establishing the trust that’s allowed our retailer partnerships to grow. We’ve become a trusted partner among the sector and are known for doing good and safe research with their data."

We work with anonymised, supermarket basket level transaction records to understand aspects of dietary behaviour at population-level.

LASER respects the commercial sensitivity, with robust governance processes, which instils trust in our partners. It’s enabled us to grow from smaller exploratory projects to larger longer-term projects with more retailers.

Over time, retailers have begun to talk to each other about their experiences with us and advocate the LIDA approach. We’re now working with multiple retail partners alongside the Institute for Grocery Distribution and have published work with four different retailers to date. A status we’re very proud of.

Also, for the first time, we’re working with multiple retailers on one project. As LASER allows us to keep each retailer’s data completely separate from one another, it gives them the trust that no data can accidentally leak from one environment to another. It’s all very safe and secure.

Dr Vicki Jenneson
Research Fellow

Nutrition and Lifestyle Analytics


Design your environment exactly how you need it

"The set up is great – there’s an airlock that allows us to update packages from R directly, without compromising security or accessing the internet. This is fantastic and gives us flexibility and independence."

Health outcomes following a heart attack in England – based on 145 million hospitalisation episodes, for 34 million individuals across England, over 10 years, using NHS data. The project started before LASER existed and at that time, whilst we had secure data storage, it didn’t have the scalability and flexibility of computational resource – so we had to invest in specific hardware.

With LASER, we can now scale up the RAM to the level we need which has been instrumental to our work which involves computationally intensive modelling. We also have multiple team members accessing and working in LASER concurrently, which allows us to share code easily.

The flexibility of bringing in our own software licences is also great. I often use a specific version of Stata, which requires a different licence to the standard University offering. I was able to bring that into the environment with support from the team. From experience of working with other secure environments - this level of autonomy is rare but vitally important.

Dr Marlous Hall
Associate Professor of Epidemiology

Peace of mind that your data is in safe hands

"LASER is a great environment that’s allowed us to explore the data securely and ethically, in a way that we would have found very challenging otherwise. The Data Analytics Team were with us every step of the way."

ESRC RAIM and EPSRC TRACK in partnership with a transport supplier in West Midlands and the Department for Transport - This project used fine grain app location data to understand transport behaviours and habits of older people. The app data tracked their travel behaviours; showing where they were, their routines and personal characteristics such as age, gender, and race.

The Data Analytics Team discussed our requirements in advance and helped with the data management plan. They also checked all incoming data complied with the plan and what additional software we’d need including in our package. They uploaded new data batches, assisted with exporting anonymised results and supported researchers who were unfamiliar with LASER.

Crucially, they also monitored and alerted us to any potential overspends on the project. As the cost was lower than we expected, we’ve actually been able to upgrade the facility to include more processing power as needed.

Susan Grant-Muller

Susan Grant-Muller
Professor of Technologies and Informatics