National Imaging Facility Incubator

Federated identity for trusted access to sensitive medical data

AAF has partnered with the National Imaging Facility (NIF) to explore improved access and collaboration for complex multi-site human imaging projects and medical trials using sensitive data.

NIF is Australia’s advanced imaging network, and provides access to imaging equipment, expertise, tools, data, and analysis. AAF is collaborating with NIF through the Trust and Identity Pathfinder program, funded by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). The strategic goal is to make imaging data a national asset, through a data collections capability. This capability will provide a centralised data repository and analytics pipeline for the medical research community.

Peter Bugeia, National Data Collections Senior Manager at NIF, says “Through a co-designed trust and identity solution, NIF’s partners, institutional researchers, and external users will be able to access sensitive data and collaborate more securely and effortlessly. Trusted identities and centralised access control play a pivotal role when undertaking complex, multi-site human imaging projects, such as national clinical trials. To have a data collections capability we need to ensure that we can control who gets access to what information.

“This has been a long-term goal of NIF, and this incubator will enable us to move towards our goal of maximising NIF’s impact by operating as an integrated, national scale platform, as outlined in our strategic roadmap ‘Because Seeing Changes Everything’”, he notes.

A Trust and Identity Framework for medical data and platforms

The Australian Access Federation (AAF) is developing a system-wide Trust and Identity Framework for Australia’s national research infrastructure. As Australia’s Federation for research and higher education, we are collaborating with the community and adapting a globally recognised framework to enable best practice trust and identity, for seamless and secure access to the entire national research infrastructure ecosystem.

The Trust and Identity Framework consists of both technology and policy, to facilitate trusted access. Through the NIF incubator we are exploring both solutions. For instance, we are exploring the technology required to provide a user with a single trusted identity to allow them to gain access to multiple services and pass data between services. Such streamlined access is crucial for large collaborative research projects across multiple organisations and is typically challenging for organisations to manage.

In the NIF incubator we are specifically exploring how to provide a single point of access  for XNAT (an open source, subject oriented, image data repository) and REDCap (a clinical trial and participant management platform) and support data flows between these systems for multi-site projects. The findings from this incubator will form the national approach for NIF, enabling network partners and the NIF user community to connect multiple REDCap instances and multiple site-specific XNAT repositories under a unified user access regime.

We are also exploring authorisation through group management and access controls. We aim to remove the challenges associated with managing complex access management systems across multiple identities and platforms, and provide a single dashboard to enable group management, with multiple tiers of access.

Policy is crucial for the effective management of trusted identity access and membership management. Privacy and data protection policies provide a common understanding of where data is stored and how it is protected. And crucially, it ensures a shared understanding of who is allowed access and in an event of a security incident, how they are managed. In this NIF incubator we are exploring what policies are required to manage access to sensitive data, that is de-identified and protects an individual’s privacy.

A national medical imaging data collections capability

The NIF incubator will improve access to Australia’s medical imaging infrastructure through easier access and collaboration.

Peter Bugeia states, “Through secure access provided by federated identity management, we will create a trusted data pipeline between previously unintegrated data platforms. This will open  access to imaging data and unlock solutions to the world’s biggest imaging challenges across commercial, clinical and research fields.

“By reducing barriers to accessing data we will continue to help Australians innovate in bioengineering, clinical science, biology, medical technology, pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical therapies. Well managed and secure access to our services is critical to Australia’s ability to translate health discoveries, run clinical trials and commercialise medical products.”

Find out more

  • Watch Peter Bugeia present at AAF’s public webinar ‘Trust and Identity Information Session 2023’. >> Watch the recording
  • An update of the incubator was presented at eResearch Australasia Conference 2023 in ‘A blueprint for a system-wide approach to Trust and Identity’. >> View the slides here

Meet our other incubators

Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre

AAF has partnered with the Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre exploring options to provide seamless and secure access to their supercomputing service using federated identities.

The Pawsey Supercomputing Research Centre is one of two Tier-1 high-performance computing facilities in Australia. Its primary function is to accelerate scientific research for the benefit of the nation. Pawsey’s service and expertise in supercomputing, data, cloud services and visualisation enables research across a variety of fields including astronomy, life sciences, medicine, energy, resources and artificial intelligence.

Pawsey’s supercomputing systems play a critical role, for a wide range of research disciplines and features as an important part of many researchers’ workflows. This Incubator will raise the security profile of Pawsey and provide a single user account across their ecosystem. The Pawsey Incubator is a foundational building block in trust and identity for national research infrastructure and plays a critical role in the implementation of trust and identity across the sector.

Microscopy Australia

AAF has partnered with Microscopy Australia exploring impact tracking through persistent identifiers (PIDs).

Microscopy Australia are a consortium of university-based microscopy facilities that more than 3,500 researchers across Australia use each year. They aim to empower Australian science and innovation by making advanced microscopes accessible to all researchers.

One of the greatest challenges in research is to connect and report on distributed services and this incubator explores how richer reporting, impact tracking and usage data can be provided through ORCID iDs and PIDs across national research infrastructure.

Contact the AAF

If you would like to discuss trust and identity for your organisation, please contact us and one of our project managers will be in contact.

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