Access and analysis of data from the administration and the private sector are essential to provide an improved knowledge base for society and policies. However, despite the existence of numerous and accurate data and the potential that their use represents for our society, both researchers and the administration face challenges in using such data. These challenges are mainly related to the access and the linkage of these data, and the storage of linked data when working on reproducibility and secondary analyses.
Data linking is a valuable source of information because it enables the creation of original information by combining data relating to the same individual from different existing sources
To support the use of linked data, several partners from FORS, NCCR on the move, NCCR LIVES, Swiss RDL, Swiss National Cohort and TREE, have joined forces to set up a center dedicated to data linking. In 2019, a steering committee bringing together the partners was set up and FORS initiated concrete measures for the creation and institutionalization of linkhub.ch.
The objective of linkhub.ch is to provide an environment to support academic and administrative studies based on linked data respecting personal data protection and scientific principles.
To this end, linkhub.ch is involved in the development of a national strategy to provide a regulatory and institutional environment adapted to the production and use of linked data. Furthermore, it offers various services in the domains of research and administration.
- Metadata: Information on data sets, how they could be accessed and linked.
- Linking: Support for the linking of information from different datasets in a secure environment.
- Data Access: Storage facilities with information and access to linked data in a secure environment.
The metadata service will be launched by the end of 2019 and the linking and storage service in 2020.
The linkhub.ch project is the result of collaboration between several institutions:
FORS is the Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences, hosted at the University of Lausanne and funded by the Swiss Confederation as well as through research mandates from the SNSF. FORS is an expert in data collection, analysis and archiving, and provides infrastructures and services for the social sciences in Switzerland. FORS uses data linking for research.
TREE, Transitions from Education to Employment, is a multi-cohort panel survey following up compulsory school leavers from all over Switzerland through their post-compulsory education and training and into employment and adulthood. It is host by the University of Bern, in the Institute of Sociology of the Department of Social Sciences and it is fund by the SNSF. Data linking is relevant for the TREE project primarily in terms of augmenting the survey data with information from administrative records of the educational system.
NCCR on the move is the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) for migration and mobility studies. It aims to enhance the understanding of contemporary phenomena related to migration and mobility in Switzerland and beyond. Connecting disciplines, the NCCR developed different linkages between administrative registers in order to describe integration and migration. It is hosted by the University of Neuchâtel.
SwissRDL is a center of excellence for medical registries and data linkage and part of the Institute for Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern. SwissRDL develops, maintains, monitors and analyses registries and runs record linkage project for partners in Switzerland and abroad. It has longstanding experience in linkage, for example with the Swiss National Cohort SNC. SwissRDL developed methods for privacy preserving probabilistic record linkage.
The Swiss Network on Fiscal Federalism brings together academic economists interested in exploiting the Swiss laboratory for empirical research in public finance, political economy and regional economics. It organizes regular workshops and offers a platform for data dissemination.