Data Linkage at AIFS
AIFS is an accredited Commonwealth Integrating Authority, which means we are authorised to undertake high-risk data linkage projects involving Commonwealth data for statistical and research purposes. We are one of only six such authorities in Australia.
Our accreditation allows us to negotiate and arrange access to a rich array of administrative and other data sources. Our linking of data sets provides valuable new information for research and policy-making, in a secure, privacy-preserving manner.
As well as linking administrative, person-level data, AIFS can enhance data sets using geographic and organisation data, including:
- Socio Economic Indexes for Areas (SEIFA)
- distance data (e.g., distance to coast, travel time to GP)
- MySchool information
AIFS’ Linkage Capability
AIFS’ data-linkage expertise includes:
- linkage of unit record (e.g., persons and organisations) using probabilistic and deterministic methods
- integration of data: bringing together content data from various sources, either at the person or organisation level, or by geographic matching
- privacy, including adherence to the Privacy Act 1988 and the Privacy Amendment (Enhancing Privacy Protection) Act 2012, and capacity to undertake Privacy Impact Assessments
- provision of useful metadata to data users
- understanding of data quality issues, including the capability to report on and manage data quality issues in analysis and interpretation
AIFS collaborates with data custodians and partnering data linkage agencies to optimise development of data assets.
Privacy and data security
AIFS adheres to a rigorous set of protocols to maintain a high degree of physical and information security, ensuring data linkage is conducted in a secure, privacy-preserving manner.
A key protocol is the “separation principle”, which means that no one working with the data can view both the linking (identifying) information (e.g., name, address, date of birth) together with the merged analysis (content) data (e.g., welfare payments or service utilisation).
AIFS also ensures that outputs (such as aggregate tables) from linked data do not disclose personal information.
AIFS utilises microdata confidentialiasation and aggregate data statistical disclosure controls to ensure risks of direct or indirect identification in datasets are rigorously controlled. Our risk-management policy ensures all data are risk-assessed and evaluated for the potential of a privacy breach. All data are identified and confidentialised prior to release and subsequent analysis.
All data linkage undertaken by the AIFS is subject to approval by the AIFS Human Research Ethics Committee.
AIFS can provide the following services:
- Data scoping: AIFS can identify data sources that can enhance research and provide new insights. We will assess the availability, feasibility and benefits of linking data.
- Integrating data: Our established procedures for data integration comprise the actual process of data linkage and provision of documentation around the linked information. AIFS will ensure privacy and confidentiality during and after data integration.
- Analysis and research using linked data: AIFS has more than 30 years’ experience conducting high-quality, responsive and impartial research. We are experts in planning, developing, collecting and analysing complex quantitative and qualitative data using a variety of research methods.
We can assist clients wishing to conduct their own data linkage projects. We can also link data to provide new research outputs and linked data resources.
Data linkage services are on a cost-recovery basis in accordance with Australian Government Cost Recovery Guidelines. Costs will vary depending on the number of datasets to be linked, the number of records, the quality of data, the number of data custodians to liaise with and obtain approval from, and the number of administrative tasks that are undertaken (ethics submissions, contracts etc.). Data custodians may also charge a fee for extracting their data.
AIFS provides metadata and documentation, including data dictionaries, for linked datasets and data products, to ensure optimal research utility. We can provide initial advice and budget estimates, and assist you through the process of conducting your data-linkage project, including gaining approvals and data access authorisations.
AIFS Data Linkage and Integrating Authority
Data Linkage Manager