Whitehall to get data science sandbox

Cloud environment to provide data specialists with range of tools for experimentation

The Better User of Data team in the Government Digital Service (GDS) is planning to build a cloud based sandbox environment for testing new tools and approaches to relevant work.

Sandbox made from tyreIt outlines the plan in a blogpost, saying it results from feedback from data specialists around Whitehall, who said they lacked easy access to some of the tools needed for complex analysis.

The effort is currently in discovery phase, and the team hopes to have a simple alpha version of the sandbox in use by the end of the month, and to take it through further iterations through the summer.

Among the features in the initial version will be browser based access, secure sign-on, a data staging area to prepare data for analysis, and basic sharing tools. There will also be support for a number of databases and programming languages, with access to software that is currently unavailable to some government data specialists.

Possibilities for future iterations include deployments for integrating the sandbox into existing IT infrastructures, advanced publishing tools and support for a wider range of software. There could also be tutorials and/or a wiki to encourage best practice.

The team plans to base the infrastructure on similar cloud environments in government and academia. The blog cites the examples of developments at the Ministry of Justice and the Met Office.

Image from F Delventhal, CC BY 2.0 through flickr