CBS Microdata Services is the facility through which external investigators can get access to Microdata available within CBS for their own research purposes. CBS offers over 3500 yearly datasets, covering about 300 subjects over periods ranging from 5 to 20 years. The data are based either on surveys performed by CBS or, increasingly, on register data originating from other public or private institutions. The data are related to the entire field of national statistics and more: demography, education, health, labour and social security, income and property, business economics (production, finance, international trade and globalization, innovation etc), criminality, regional data, construction and building, etcetera. Standardized documentation reports for all datasets are available on the Internet. The major added value is that all datasets can be linked at micro-level through anonymous linkage keys for persons, households, enterprises, etc. Under appropriate conditions investigators can also bring in their own datasets to link them to CBS Microdata. The data can not only be accessed on-site within the CBS offices, but also at the institute of the researcher through the now widely used remote access option. Strict protection of privacy and confidentiality is guaranteed by a number of administrative procedures and technical measures; here the CBS-law and the Dutch Data Protection Act (WBP) are leading. Investigators do their statistical analyses while the data remain within a secure network environment inside CBS, using a range of software tools standard available. They are allowed to export only aggregate results from which no information about individual persons or institutions can be retrieved. The facility may be used for statistical/research purposes only, and results need to be made publicly accessible. Currently, CBS Microdata services is used by all Dutch universities and several abroad, and by government based or private research institutions. Starting about 120 new research project yearly, between 500 and 1000 researchers are actively taking benefit of the facility. All data collection is funded entirely with public means; operational costs of the service are charged to its users. Information like the catalogue of available datasets, surveys of projects running and of resulting (scientific) publications etc are published on the institute’s website http://www.cbs.nl/microdata.
The ambition of CBS is to further promote and facilitate the access to its Microdata, and this is a major reason to apply for the Road Map programme. In spite of its widespread use, many (university) researchers are still unaware of CBS Microdata Services, and a further growth is therefore anticipated. Currently the costs of the facility are problematic for many academic users, and financial sponsoring of their projects would be extremely helpful. Investments need further be made in computational power and software tools, documentation of metadata in English (to serve both researchers internationally and particularly foreign investigators in Dutch universities), management of an online user discussion platform, the availability of datasets for educational purposes, etc. By offering hosting of additional datasets from public, research and/or private owners CBS aims at further developing as an important national data hub.