The Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) is an ESRC Big Data initiative led by the University of Leeds and University College London with partners at the Universities of Liverpool and Oxford. Established in 2014, CDRC provides a unique platform for conducting research and innovation by delivering a national data service that facilitates stakeholder access to commercial datasets. CDRC’s key objectives are to procure consumer data for social science research and the benefit of society and also to serve as a centre of expertise in data analytics. Our data assets underpin research across a wide range of priority areas including retail, urban mobility, health, transport, housing and sustainable and ethical consumption. The Centre also develops data science capability by investing significant resource in knowledge exchange and training activities. Our MSc programme in Consumer Analytics and Marketing Strategy, for instance, is novel in integrating consumer and predictive analytics with marketing techniques. We also offer a range of short courses and work closely with partners and local authorities to help them maximise the value of their data. CDRC occupies a unique and important place in the RII landscape. As data collected by consumer facing organisations account for an increasing share of all of the data collected about citizens, our role in facilitating access to such data becomes ever more critical to understanding society. This is particularly true at a time when industry is inclined to destroy data as soon as it becomes expedient or when fears over data protection arise. The Centre’s success in procuring data has relied heavily on our ability to forge mutually beneficial relationships with a wide variety of commercial organisations and to instil trust in our operations. CDRC is important in providing access to a wide range of datasets currently unavailable elsewhere via a data service that is underpinned by robust data handling protocols and procedures. CDRC is also important as a hub of data analytics. Supported by a world class digital infrastructure, our researchers and users are influencing policy and contributing to improvements in efficiency by government, business and citizens. Such impact is facilitated through our collaborations with other key organisations such as the Alan Turing Institute and Office for National Statistics with whom we are working closely to unlock the potential of data and improve public confidence in its use.
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