The Consumer Data Research Centre (CDRC) is an ESRC Big Data initiative led by University College London with the University of Liverpool and Oxford and in partnership with the University of Leeds. Established in 2014, the CDRC provides a platform for accessing consumer data through a three-tier data service. CDRC’s key objectives are to procure and make available consumer-related data for social science research for the benefit of society and to serve as a centre of expertise in data analytics. Our data assets and infrastructures created from consumer data underpin social science research across a wide range of priority areas, including retail, urban mobility, housing and energy, health and wellbeing and transport. The Centre also develops data science capability by investing significant resource in knowledge exchange and training activities. For example, our Masters Research Dissertation Programme, offers the opportunity for UK Masters students to work on real world problems in partnership with commercial partners. 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 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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