Frequently asked questions

Printer-friendly version

Who is Population Data BC and what do you do?

Population Data BC is a multi-university, data and education resource facilitating interdisciplinary research on the determinants of human health, well-being and development.

We offer Researchers access to one of the world’s largest collections of administrative data including health care, health services and population health data, and a comprehensive education and training service on how to best use those data.

These data are linkable to each other and to external data sets, where approved by the Data Provider. Linkage of data across sectors, such as health, education, early childhood development, workplace and the environment, facilitates advances in understanding the complex interplay of influences on human health, well-being and development. Such research informs health related policy-making and investment decisions for healthier communities.

Who funds Population Data BC?

Our funders are the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research, the BC Ministry of Health, the Human Early Learning Partnership and WorkSafeBC. Foundational infrastructure funding was recieved from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ministry of Small Business, Technology and Economic Development Knowledge Development Fund.

Additional funding is received through project-specific cost recoveries.

Who is accountable for Population Data BC?

The Executive Director is guided by consensus from the Advisory Board that is responsible for guiding all strategic, policy-related, privacy- and security-related aspects of Population Data BC’s operations.  The Advisory Board is comprised of representatives from collaborating institutions and organizations. The Population Data BC Governance Oversight Committee oversees the Advisory Board. The legal body for all our Data Sharing Agreements is UBC.

How can a Data Provider monitor Population Data BC's use of the Data to ensure it is being used as contractually agreed upon?

All usage of the Data will be regulated by a Data Sharing Agreement with the Data Provider outlining how the provider can monitor the use of the Data on an individual basis.

Who will have access to the Data?

Researchers may access the Data by submitting a detailed Data Access Request which is approved by the Data Provider. They then sign a Research Agreement with the Data Provider.

Named programmers have access to Identifier Data to perform linkages on intake only. Content Data are stored on a separate server, and are accessed by named programmers to perform Research Extracts as defined through a Research Agreement. Staff in the Data Access Unit work with the Researcher to define study populations and therefore will have access to Content Data. Data Access Unit staff have no access to Identifier Data.

What is the risk of exposure?

Risk of exposure is significantly lower than that of most Data Providers as we separate Identifier Data from Content Data and all our identifiable information resides, encrypted and off line.

How can a Data Provider monitor Population Data BC’s security?

A section on security requirements and compliance monitoring is a standard part of our Data Sharing Agreements, and includes logging, reports and auditing.

What is the benefit to a data provider of having Population Data BC hold data that is under its stewardship?

We can benefit a data provider who needs:

  • A streamlined and effective way to manage data requests from the research community
  • Safe and secure data storage with content and identifier separation
  • A trusted third party for data linkage
  • A Secure Research Environment for researchers to maximize data security during data analysis
  • Project closure and archival storage of data

Our online tools for data providers include:

  • DARonline – Data providers can now view all their data application requests from us via Our online data application request system features user-friendly navigation, the ability for Data Stewards to generate application summaries, and one central place to see all the pending requests.
  • AppTracker –  Apptracker is PopData’s project management system, a resource for keeping track of research projects coordinated by PopData. Data providers can use AppTracker to view project information such as expiry dates, team members, data releases, data storage location, and more.
  • Metadata Central – Our online data documentation system allows data providers the ability to view the summary statistics on the data we hold, such as frequency over time. In Metadata Central data providers can also view the current documentation we have on the data.

Does a Data Provider, at any time, relinquish stewardship of the data by storing it at Population Data BC?

No, as a Data Provider you maintain stewardship of the data and approve all Data Access Requests from researchers on a case-by-case basis. Population Data BC has no authority whatsoever in terms of authorizing access to the Data.

What is the risk of someone gaining unauthorized access to Data?

Population Data BC has a myriad of technical and physical controls in place to maintain the security of the Data. Details of these security features are available upon request, but include building alarms, fortification and video surveillance as well as network moating, two-factor authentication and encryption. Population Data BC provides cradle to grave security meeting or exceeding Cobitt, ISO and BC Government Core Standards.

Who is the legal body responsible for Population Data BC?

Population Data BC is under the legal umbrella of the University of British Columbia (“UBC”), which is a public body under FIPPA. The Office of the University Counsel is charged with administering matters relating to UBC’s compliance with FIPPA. The head of the public body at UBC with respect to FIPPA is University Counsel, Hubert Lai. Population Data BC operates under the aegis of UBC as the public body.

Does Population Data BC carry out research on the Data?

No, Population Data BC does not have its own research agenda.

Page last revised: September 19, 2017