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SATRE: How the Aridhia DRE Goes Beyond the Specification

Our recent blog series welcomed the emergence of the SATRE specification for Trusted Research Environments (TREs) and scored the Aridhia DRE against the specification. We assessed the DRE across all four areas that SATRE covers:

• Information Governance
• Computing Technology and Information Security
• Data Management
• Supporting Capabilities

An open specification like SATRE offers TRE providers an opportunity to benchmark their platform and identify any gaps or weaknesses in it, and SATRE is particularly good at detailing the governance and support capabilities which are external to the platform itself, but necessary for the sustainable provision of a TRE. As such, we were happy to score the Aridhia DRE against SATRE, and provide the results of that scoring across the SATRE blog series. These have now been consolidated into a single paper for ease of reference.

Useful as SATRE is, during our scoring exercise it became clear that in many ways it describes a minimum viable specification for sustainable TRE provision, and that the Aridhia DRE has a number of advanced features which are either not included in SATRE, or are marked as recommended rather than mandatory.

Data search and discovery

SATRE states that:

You should provide a metadata catalogue of available datasets for users.

And that

You should have a consistent and easily accessible meta-data data model or similar to describe what a data asset contains.

These are only a recommendation and provide no further detail on the features required in a metadata catalogue. The Aridhia DRE provides a native metadata catalogue, FAIR Data Services, that allows data owners to create their own reusable metadata catalogue templates, and has a fully configurable search service.

FAIR also allows users to characterise and subset data using the Cohort Builder tool. Developed in collaboration with our users, Cohort Builder’s visualisation and query builder tools allow researchers to understand the shape of a dataset prior to requesting access to it, and cohort settings allow data owners fine-grain control over how much insight researchers can gain into a dataset.

Data management and access approval

SATRE has dedicated sections on information governance and data management, recognising the importance of these activities in a TRE, and includes the following as part of its specification:

You must not give anyone access to datasets without agreement from the Data Controller.

Your TRE should record which datasets are accessed, when and by who.

The latter statement is only a recommendation, and in neither case does SATRE define how the objective should be achieved.

The Aridhia DRE offers a comprehensive access management solution to data owners. Our fully customisable data access request (DAR) forms and configurable approval workflows give the data owner complete control over how their data is requested and approved. When a data access request has been approved, the data is transferred to one of our secure workspaces, to which administrators can apply data usage agreements (DUAs) that all users must agree to before accessing the workspace and the data it holds.

Data Analysis

In the Computing Technology and Information Security section, SATRE requires that a TRE:

provide software applications that are relevant to working with the data in the TRE

Not only does Workspaces do this, but many of them come pre-installed and ready to go for the user. Data Science VMs include a suite of tools which are collated specifically to allow users to carry out data science on their data and information. Along with the built-in Data Table Analytics modules and applications such as RStudio and Jupyter Notebook, users can quickly get up and running with their data without the need for dedicated virtual machines.

Additionally, Aridhia can enable customer-created containers to be run in the DRE infrastructure which help to share analytics techniques and aid reproducibility. One such example of this is the Roche-developed NTKApp suite of tools developed to provide targeted analytic capabilities specialised for neurodegenerative data. This is available, out of the box, to all users of the AD Data Initiative’s AD Workbench without the need for a virtual machine.


SATRE does not cover interoperability with other platforms, and this is an increasing priority for our users. As standard, metadata from the Aridhia DRE can be syndicated to the HDR UK Innovation Gateway, and our FAIR API allows metadata to be extracted and shared by data owners as required.

Our work with the PHEMS project is introducing federated analysis as a native feature of the DRE, allowing researchers to access data in other organisations and jurisdictions in a way that would previously not have been possible. More detail on this important new feature will be available in the coming months.

If you would like to know more about any of the above features or about the Aridhia DRE, please contact us.