Big Data Network Support

The public and commercial sectors are continuously generating large amounts of data. These data, 'big data', represent a significant resource for society; they can provide a powerful discovery tool for researchers, enabling them to gain valuable insight, but present great challenges for reuse in terms of volume and complexity. Researchers need the right framework to understand these complex data and to maximise their potential.

As part of Phase 2 of the Economic and Social Research Council's (ESRC) Big Data Network (BDN2), the UK Data Service has established a dedicated Big Data Network Support team (BDNS) to enable researchers to make the most of these data for knowledge exchange and impact. 

What will we do?

BDNS will support and coordinate activities between three dedicated Research Centres focusing on Business and Local Government Data. These are: the Urban Big Data Centre, the ESRC Business and Local Government Data Research Centre and the Consumer Data Research Centre.  You can find out more on our Centres page .

Our purpose

Our objectives are to:

  • unify data discovery across the BDN2 data collections  
  • coordinate user training and capacity building in big data analytics for researchers using the data
  • harmonise data acquisition, governance and access, across the Data Research Centres
  • encourage the sharing of information and expertise across the Data Research Centres
  • provide tailored support for each of the Data Research Centres
  • support access to, and the use of, new and novel forms of data beyond the lifetime of the current funding period of the BDN2

Our vision

By 2017, the UK Data Service BDNS will have:

  • established a support infrastructure enabling the Data Research Centres to facilitate access to their big data collections for research
  • enabled BDN2 users to develop impactful research by providing advice and signposting to the relevant Data Research Centre and data collections
  • established the BDRN as an accessible and valuable resource for researchers and as the standard-setting authority on big data research
  • developed a technical infrastructure to ensure the safe and secure access to new and novel forms of data
  • developed a framework for effective knowledge exchange and capacity building between the Data Research Centres 
  • developed a platform for the Data Research Centres to communicate with the wider big data community, which includes the international scientific community, commercial users of big data and citizens
  • become recognised within the UK social science and economic research community as a trusted source of information on the use of new and novel forms of data in developing impactful research


Principal Investigator: Matthew Woollard, Director of the UK Data Archive and Director of the UK Data Service

Lead: Nathan Cunningham, Functional Director, Big Data Network Support

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Project dates: January 2014 - September 2017


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