Answers to a range of frequently asked questions are provided below. Please contact the SURE team with additional queries.
SURE is a remote-access computing environment that allows researchers to access and analyse data for approved studies and analyses. A secure project workspace is set up for each study and data is stored centrally on servers housed in a high-security data centre rather than a user’s local computing environment.
SURE is unique in providing highly secure storage and analytical software in a single location that all users with the necessary credentials can access.
Visit Using SURE for more information.
No, they cannot. SURE’s unique “curated gateway” prevents transfer of files into and out of the secure storage space by anyone other than an authorised curator. The curator is either a person nominated by the data custodian or a senior investigator bound to protect the data, depending on the data custodian’s requirements and ethics approval.
No, separate, partitioned workspaces are set up for the analysis of data that has been approved for each study hosted in SURE. The security of each workspace ensures that data from different studies are not able to be combined, even if a user is an investigator on multiple studies using SURE.
Some users may access SURE for multiple studies, so a project-specific workspace and virtual desktop is established for each project. The project workspaces are logically separated so that data cannot be shared or combined in any way.
SURE users must ensure all necessary approvals from ethics committees and data custodians have been received for their studies. Users applying to access the SURE project workspace established for a study must be a named investigator on the study application. All SURE users must also complete mandatory training prior to accessing the facility. The SURE researcher training program covers responsibilities of a user, information security and statistical disclosure control.
SURE has the technical capacity to allow researchers based overseas to use SURE, as long as they have obtained specific ethics and data custodian approval to access the data overseas. Permissions can be tailored based on the study requirements.
Microsoft Office 2010: Including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, OneNote, Publisher
Notepad++: Programming text editor
OpenBUGS: OpenBUGS is the open-source replacement for WinBUGS.
R: Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of R, plus the RStudio GUI interface for R is available in SURE. Additionally, the entire CRAN (R add-ons) library is mirrored inside SURE, so users can select and install their own libraries from the mirrored CRAN repository.
Various utilities: Including Adobe Acrobat Reader X, CutePDF
MLwiN: Multi-level modelling package from the Centre for Multilevel Modelling at Bristol University
SAS v9.4: 64-bit version, with Base SAS, SAS/STAT, SAS/GRAPH and Enterprise Guide
Stat/Transfer v13: Allows for easy data transfer between popular statistical software packages.
Stata 14.1/MP: 64-bit multiprocessor versions, able to use 2 CPU cores and all available RAM. Users will be able to self-install Stata add-ons from the STB and Stata Journal archives in the first instance, others on request.
The SURE team will accept requests for other software to be installed. We will need to consider a range of factors including costs and licensing before the software is tested and installed in your SURE workspace.
There is no maximum size. Standard workspaces are allocated up to one terabyte of storage space but larger, customised workspaces can be easily developed for studies analysing very large data sets.
The registration process for SURE is straightforward as researchers generally have already received human research ethics and data custodian approvals. Once agreements are signed and payment made, the workspace is generally set up within two weeks.
It is not possible to print within SURE. Research output can be taken out of the facility via the curated gateway and once approved, the output can be downloaded to your local computer and printed
Information and reference materials that are necessary for researchers to conduct their analysis in SURE can be transferred via the curated gateway. The specific type of information that is permitted and how it will be reviewed for your study will depend on the approvals received for your study from data custodians and human research ethics committees, including any specific restrictions or compliance requirements.
SURE has recently purchased and installed new servers and a new Citrix environment which will provide faster processing speeds for researchers.
To ensure our current SURE customers benefit from the upgrades, existing workspaces are being migrated to the new SURE servers and environment.
No changes are made to any data files during migration, and no data leaves the SURE environment during migration. A direct copy is undertaken individually for each workspace to bring all directories and data into the new file server as an exact match. In addition to this, each workspace* is backed up and recoverable as part of our standard SURE processes.
* All files in a workspace are backed up unless the Authorised Delegate for a workspace has expressly requested that backups not be carried out.
The SURE migration does not include any changes to the Curated Gateway. You will continue to access and use the Curated Gateway in the same way.
For SURE users who work in more than one SURE workspace, we will make our best effort to upgrade your workspaces in parallel to avoid the need to use multiple Access Gateways. In the event that it is not possible to migrate your workspaces in parallel, they will function side by side.
Yes, you can. Both SSL certificates can operate in parallel, and once the new SSL certificate is installed, your browser will prompt you for the relevant certificate when you go to the Access Gateway.
By default the new SURE environment is accessed from your web browser.
All browsers allow you to drag and drop the active window to create a standalone window, and the Citrix client in the browser will allow you to size the window to your preference, including a full screen option.
If your browser does not support the HTML5 in-browser experience, you can use Citrix Receiver or Citrix Workspace*.
* Citrix Workspace is only compatible with the new SURE environment.
7zip (version 19): Zip file manager with the ability to split and recombine large zip files
Microsoft Office 2016: Including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Access, OneNote, Publisher
Notepad++ (version 7.15.19): Programming text editor
OpenBUGS (version 3.2.3): OpenBUGS is the open-source replacement for WinBUGS.
R & R Studio: Both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of R are installed. Additionally, a CRAN (R package) library is mirrored inside SURE.
MLwiN (version 3.02): Multi-level modelling package from the Centre for Multilevel Modelling at Bristol University
Python (version 3.7)
Anaconda (version 3.4.4)
Inkscape (version 09.2.4) 64-bit: A professional vector graphics editor
Various utilities: Including Adobe Acrobat Reader, CutePDF
ArcGIS (version 10.7): mapping and analytics tool for mapping and spatial reasoning
SAS (version 9.4 M6) 64-bit version, with Base SAS, SAS/STAT, SAS/GRAPH and Enterprise Guide
SPSS (version 23.0)
Stat/Transfer (version 13): Allows for easy data transfer between popular statistical software packages.
Stata (version 16 MP2) 64-bit multiprocessor versions, able to use 2 CPU cores.
Software will typically be updated on a release schedule and the SURE team will communicate new or updated software in customer updates.
The SURE team will accept requests for other software to be installed. We will need to consider a range of factors including costs and licensing before the software is tested and installed in SURE workspaces.