University of Alberta: Five Reasons to Use DARC

The University of Alberta’s new Data Analytics Research Core (DARC) launched earlier this month. A purpose-built health data management and analysis platform, DARC was developed right here at the U of A. It’s designed specifically to support some of the university’s major research areas, including big data, machine learning, and precision health.

If you’re a health researcher—or someone working with health data—here are five reasons you might want to look into DARC:

1) It’s a safe environment for data storage and transfer that already complies with privacy regulations.
In the past, researchers have had to source their own options for storing and using health data, which then had to be vetted by the information custodian (such as Alberta Health Services). DARC was developed to fulfill the requirements for data sharing set by AHS and other information custodians, addressing privacy and security concerns in health and big data research. It also paves the way for an Information Management Agreement.

2) It offers more computing capacity to manage large amounts of data.
With the growth of AI and machine learning research, investigators need a much larger computing capacity than what their individual desktops or small servers can offer. Early results show that AHS, as information custodian, was able to safely transfer several terabytes of diagnostic imaging data to the DARC environment, all while preserving privacy.

3) It’s more than storage—you can also manage and analyze your data.
DARC features the latest version of SAS Viya, a scalable platform for statistics, data visualization, predictive modelling and machine learning. It’s widely utilized in Alberta’s health system and a great tool for graduate learners and trainees to know and use.

4) It keeps all your research data in one place.
Researchers who need to collect information from different sources are able to merge all of their data within DARC. For example, patients’ health records can be combined and analyzed with other important data, such as their genomic information.

5) It’s an affordable, university-wide option.
DARC is available to researchers from every faculty whose projects could benefit from its secure data management features.

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