The use of health-related data for research requires that they be securely transferred from the point of collection (e.g. a hospital) or production (e.g. technology platforms) to the point of processing.
In BioMedIT, every provider of data to research projects is linked to a single BioMedIT node, irrespective of where the project is hosted. This “snowflake” design was chosen to minimize the amount of onboarding efforts needed for each data provider. Data providing institutions are securely connected to the network through both, administrative and technical measures, to enable secured sharing of sensitive research data over the BioMedIT infrastructure. Each data provider has one landing zone at a particular node to where encrypted and signed data packages are sent, generally via Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) from whitelisted IP addresses. The same method is used for data transfers which take place internally between the BioMedIT nodes.
For transferring data from the site of provision to the site of analysis, an easy-to-use, open source tool - sett (Secure Encryption and Transfer Tool) - has been developed. It supports the full process of complex data packaging and secure data transfer with both a graphical user interface (GUI) and a command line interface (CLI). BioMedIT provides a central key server where public GPG keys of BioMedIT users can be stored.
The BioMedIT Portal provides a single access point to the BioMedIT Network and associated resources, simplifying access control for the researcher and facilitating the management of project resources and users, as well as the coordination of data transfers. Access is provided through a single sign-on with SWITCH edu-ID and 2-factor authentication. Researchers can work on their data by command-line or by web-based remote-desktop technology.
The BioMedIT Network aims to enable interoperable workflow execution, providing a way for researchers to work seamlessly across the nodes. Containerization of data workflows are playing an important role and will improve reproducibility of results obtained by these workflows. The ultimate goal of BioMedIT is to provide a data-aware federated analysis platform where researchers can work with distributed data. This approach is especially valuable for confidential data or large data sets, which cannot easily be shared.