When the UK’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) wanted a system to disseminate their welfare and pension data to the public, they turned to Space-Time Research. DWP’s Stat-Xplore, which launched in early 2013, is powered by our SuperWEB2 platform. It provides the public with access to DWP benefit data, but rather than delivering information as static predefined tables or reports, this tool gives the public the ability to ask their own questions of the data, generating their own tables and charts on the fly.
One of the challenges that DWP faced when releasing information in this way was the issue of privacy. Since the data relates to living individuals, it is vital to ensure that the confidentiality of those individuals is protected.
The privacy problem is typically most evident when creating tables with very small cell counts. If someone knows certain facts about an individual represented in the dataset, then they might be able to create a query specific enough to reveal additional information about that individual.
Luckily, Space-Time Research’s SuperSTAR suite features sophisticated disclosure control functionality. DWP implemented our perturbation module to protect the anonymity of the individuals represented in their data. Perturbation automatically makes small adjustments to some of the data values–introducing just enough random error to ensure anonymity, while still offering reliable aggregated data.
Our approach to disclosure control has now been recognised as a best practice by the UK Anonymisation Network, an initiative that provides advice and information to individuals and organisations who handle and share personal data.
If you are interested in learning more, you can read their report about the DWP implementation.
Or get in touch with us today to discuss how Space-Time Research’s disclosure control methodology could work for you.