Mysterious library ‘SafePods’

The cost to build and install each ‘SafePod’ is £25,000.

Students returning from Spring Break have been confronted with a mysterious, white, Tardis-like ‘SafePod’ on the ground floor of the Main Library. Having provoked a lot of speculation on social media, The Stand decided to investigate.

The SafePod is part of £64 million nation-wide project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). In a drive to strengthen the UK’s competitive advantage in ‘big data’ research, the government is funding a number of data research centres in academic institutions across the UK.

As part of the project, the ESRC is making an additional investment in prefabricated sensitive data secure rooms. These ‘rooms’ are called ‘SafePods’, designed for use by researchers to gain access to sensitive data securely.

According to the Administration Data Liaison Service website, the ‘SafePod’ is a “prefabricated secure room measuring approximately 2m x 2m x 2m” and will provide authorized researches with remote access to sensitive governmental data ranging from welfare to tax records.

The Pods are accessible for wheelchair users, with an adjustable chair and monitor, emergency alarm, intruder alarm and CCTV camera. The cost to build and install each ‘SafePod’ is £25,000.

The University of St Andrews has been chosen to manage and distribute the SafePods funding on behalf of the ESRC.

Photo courtesy of Hamish Docherty.