E-Research Institutional Cloud Architecture (ERICA)

Secure cloud computing for sensitive data.
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Who will benefit
Research organisations, researchers, research students, infrastructure providers, government (state and commonwealth)

The Challenge

Research in many fields increasingly requires application of computationally intensive analytics to large-scale and potentially sensitive personal data. The challenge is protecting privacy while enabling data-intensive research.

The Response

The E-Research Institutional Cloud Architecture (ERICA) platform provides a secure, customisable, cloud-based computing environment for researchers using sensitive data.

ERICA is an orchestration framework (infrastructure as code) and offers significant advantages over secure data enclave models that use fixed computing infrastructure. It leverages the services and scalability of AWS, permitting researchers to use a wide range of operating system and workspace configurations. These include customised high-performance and high-throughput computing resources.

This project will expand the national ERICA network by implementing the well-proven ERICA code base within a broader array of Australian research organisations. It will improve platform efficiency and sustainability by modifying components to increase automation, reduce operational costs and improve disaster recovery capability.

Five Safes-enabled project governance pipelines, policies and procedures will be developed for the national and international context.

Who Will Benefit

The ERICA platform will support researchers who use sensitive microdata (such as participant-level data) across fields including medical and health, justice, housing, education, disability, social services, and child protection.

It supports increasing demand for access to large-scale cross-sectoral data to generate ‘real world evidence’ while minimising the risk of privacy, security and confidentiality breaches.

The Partners

  • UNSW
  • The University of Melbourne
  • Intersect Australia
  • NSW Data Analytics Centre
  • The George Institute Australia
  • Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
  • SA-NT Datalink
  • University of Adelaide
  • University of South Australia
  • University of Western Australia
  • Population Health Research Network

Target Outcomes

ERICA enables novel and trailblazing research in fields including health, justice, housing, education, disability, social services and child protection. This research increasingly requires application of computationally-intensive analytics, including machine learning, to large-scale, complex and sensitive personal data.

The ERICA platform is unique in supporting these requirements in an immediate, on-demand, scalable and cost effective way.

The ERICA platform boosts international collaboration by allowing shared access to data resources by collaborating researchers located in other countries while still supporting the on-shore-only data sovereignty requirements of Australian data custodians.

Contact the ARDC

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