Powering data analytics research, education and training

Leeds Institute for Data Analytics (LIDA) has launched a cutting-edge platform designed to empower researchers and students to drive data analytics excellence at the University.

Two individuals sat at computers having a discussion.

LASER – Leeds Analytic Secure Environment for Research – is a Microsoft cloud-based platform that meets the highest standards of data security while providing increased capacity and flexibility to meet the diverse data analytics needs of the University.

Professor Chris Gale, LIDA Co-Director, said: “At LIDA we use expertise in data analytics to help colleagues from all faculties to advance knowledge through internationally outstanding research and education in interdisciplinary data science and artificial intelligence. LASER will play a critical role in this.

“Our mission, aligned with the University’s strategy, is to generate societal impact through the excellence of research.

“LIDA’s research environment – including both our secure offices at the Worsley Building and our new remotely-accessible LASER platform – can securely host data that are highly sensitive, personally identifiable or commercially sensitive. This capability aids the development of research that can make a difference to our local communities and the world around us.

“We hope that colleagues involved in data analytics research, education and training at all levels and from a wide range of disciplines will make use of our enhanced facilities, and we urge them to get in touch with us.”

Six years of growth

An individual using a touchscreen computer that has the word LIDA on it.

The Institute has more than quadrupled its research base since it started in 2015 to exceed £60 million. 

The Alan Turing Institute – a leading facility for data science and artificial intelligence – is a key partner, and the last five years have seen a host of other organisations make use of LIDA’s expertise, including retail giant Sainsbury’s, YouGov and Leeds City Council.

During this time, LIDA has facilitated research that makes a real difference, for example in health and eating habits, climate change and urban analytics

And LIDA has played its part during the pandemic. A recent collaboration with the Royal Society and universities including Cambridge and Exeter is creating new models and insights to inform the work of the Government’s scientific advisors during the pandemic. 

Working with Rolls Royce and 170 other international companies including Google, IBM and Microsoft, as part of the Emergent Alliance, LIDA is also modelling pathways that industries could take to rebuild after the pandemic.  

You can read more about LIDA’s pioneering research work in the LIDA 2019/20 Annual review and in the LIDA Strategy

Professor Nick Plant, Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, said: “The ability to use vast data collections to drive research is critical in seeking solutions to the biggest challenges that the world faces.  

“In LIDA, the University has this ability on its doorstep, and I urge colleagues to explore how the Institute can help them, both in their research aspirations and in their student education initiatives.

“LIDA sits at the heart of the university’s digital transformation work and will play a key role as this strategy is developed.”

Driving innovation

LIDA has also acted as a catalyst for the development of new educational programmes, with some 700 students enrolled on 11 multi-disciplinary data analytic Masters programmes across the university, including flagship programmes in Data Science and Consumer Analytics. 

By securely hosting sensitive data online, LASER offers a range of benefits to educational programmes, particularly in expanding the provision of cutting-edge data-driven student research projects, in collaboration with external partners.

To find out more about LASER, email the LIDA Data Analytics Team or Paul Evans, LIDA’s Research and Innovation Manager

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