ODISSEIOpen Data Infrastructure for Social Science and Economic Innovations


Lucas van der Meer
Burgemeester Oudlaan 50, 3062 PA Rotterdam
Data Archiving and Networking Services (DANS), Erasmus School of Economics (ESE), Erasmus School of Health Policy Management (ESHPM), Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (ESSB), International Institute of Social History (IISG), Leiden University (UL) - Faculty of Law, Leiden University (UL) - Faculty of Social Sciences, Maastricht University (UM) - School of Business and Economics, National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), Netherlands Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB), Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency (PBL), Netherlands eScience Center (NLeSC), Netherlands institute for health services research (Nivel), Netherlands Institute for Social Research (SCP), Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR), Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI). Open University (OU). Radboud University Nijmegen (RU) - Faculty of Management Sciences, Radboud University Nijmegen (RU) - Faculty of Social Sciences, Statistics Netherlands (CBS), SURFsara Tilburg Law School (TLS), Tilburg School of Catholic Theology (TSCT), Tilburg School of Economics and Management (TiSEM), Tilburg School of Humanities and Digital Sciences (TSHD), Tilburg School of Social and Behavioural Sciences (TSB), TU Delft (TUD) - Faculty Architecture and the Built Environment, Twente University (UT) - Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences, University of Amsterdam (UvA) - Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Amsterdam (UvA) - Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences, University of Groningen (RUG) - Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences, Utrecht University (UU) - Faculty of Social Sciences, VU Amsterdam (VU) - Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences, VU Amsterdam (VU) - Faculty of Science, VU Amsterdam (VU) - Faculty of Social Sciences, VU Amsterdam (VU) - School of Business and Economics

ODISSEI is a shared research infrastructure that brings together existing data from the social sciences and enrich them with data from government registries and online sources. The infrastructure ensures that Dutch social scientists are well equipped to exploit the opportunities offered by the digital age. By developing innovative analytics and presentation tools, and offering world class, secure and ethical data management facilities, ODISSEI enhances the position of Dutch social scientists as global leaders and enable them to better address the pressing social questions of our time.
Prominent elements of ODISSEI include the ODISSEI Secure Supercomputer, access grants for CBS Microdata and the LISS panel, and coordination and financing of the European Social Survey (ESS), Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE), and Netherlands Election Study (NKO).

Society is facing complex challenges, such as ageing, climate change, migration, populism, labour insecurity, and increasing social inequalities. Understanding these challenges and finding suitable solutions is at the core of social science, which covers a wide spectrum of disciplines including economics, political science, human geography, sociology, psychology, communication science, anthropology, demography, criminology, and law. In today’s rapidly changing world, the role of social scientists is more important than ever before. With their interest in explaining how society works, social scientists play a vital role in informing local, national and international authorities, non-governmental organisations, and the public.
In the last two years, the entire social science community in the Netherlands has united in an unprecedented level of financial, technical, and political support for a shared research infrastructure: ODISSEI, Open Data Infrastructure for Social Science and Economic Innovations. ODISSEI is a shared research infrastructure that brings together existing data from the social sciences and enrich them with data from government registries and online sources. The infrastructure ensures that Dutch social scientists are well equipped to exploit the opportunities offered by the digital age. By developing innovative analytics and presentation tools, and offering world class, secure and ethical data management facilities, ODISSEI enhances the position of Dutch social scientists as global leaders and enable them to better address the pressing social questions of our time.
Quality of results achieved so far
ODISSEI was launched in October 2016 with the financial support of NWO, 19 Dutch faculties, four research institutes, Statistics Netherlands (CBS) and DANS, the Dutch national research archive for scientific research. ODISSEI currently has grown to 37 member organisations. It represents a milestone in Dutch social science as for the first time such a comprehensive consortium of stakeholders has been brought together to develop an open data infrastructure for the social sciences. Formatted: Normal
ODISSEI has already made significant strides in facilitating world class research. First, ODISSEI has safeguarded the continuity of several high-quality and strategically important data collections within the Netherlands. ODISSEI has secured the fieldwork for wave 8 of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE)1 which will start in October 2019. SHARE is a world leading survey infrastructure and part of G2Aging - an initiative to harmonize population survey data on aging around the world. In the Netherlands alone, SHARE has 964 users and the project publishes more than one peer-reviewed publication every week. The Netherlands plays a prominent role within SHARE as the technical infrastructure for the project is provided by CentERdata. ODISSEI also secured the Dutch participation in the European Values Study (EVS) in 2018. This survey has been conducted every nine years since 1981 and helps monitor long term changes in attitudes and values (e.g. Bréchon & Gonthier, 2017). The international project is based at Tilburg University. At the national level, ODISSEI has also supported the fielding of the National Election Study (NKO) in 2017. The nature of Dutch politics means that election cycles are hard to anticipate and predict and raising financing for election studies is exceptionally difficult. To mitigate this, ODISSEI provides continuity funding at short notice. ODISSEI has also taken on the responsibility of Dutch membership in international social science projects such as the Luxembourg Income Study, which has 50 active Dutch users annually.
Beyond supporting these data collections, ODISSEI has extended the ‘Longitudinal Internet studies for the Social Sciences’ (LISS) panel and provided nine new research projects free panel time to collect data in it. The projects were evaluated by a panel of leading scientists. 31 projects were submitted for consideration, illustrating a high demand for space in the panel and the quality of applications was high. The researchers who lead the successful projects are provided with around fifteen minutes of time with respondents in the panel. Amongst the nine projects there is research on privacy and data concerns, political discontent, digital health services, parental well-being and mental health, greed and self-interest, and collective nostalgia and group dynamics2. The researchers can target specific respondents or split their time over multiple waves of LISS to provide longitudinal data. The panel allows researchers access to a high-quality, representative sample on which to test their ideas within a relatively short period of time. PhD candidates and postdocs can gain access to the panel and test their own theories without having to construct their own data collection infrastructure or acquire large grants.
Due to the success of the LISS access grants, a similar design was applied to microdata access at Statistics Netherlands. These data provide an accurate insight into the lives of the entire population in the Netherlands and are therefore extremely valuable to identify social cleavages at the micro-level. Often, however, there are substantial barriers to access the data. For that reason, ODISSEI has launched the two-pronged Microdata Access Programme. First, the Microdata Access Grant provides five selected projects with free access to Statistics Netherlands microdata. The call was launched at a free workshop at Statistics Netherlands which introduced researchers to the data that was available. At the time of writing, the 24 proposals submitted are being reviewed by a panel of experts. Second, in the Microdata Access Discount programme, ODISSEI has also supported a further 111 projects with access to the microdata at reduced costs.
Both the LISS call and the Microdata Access Grant have been successful in enabling early career researchers to pursue their pressing scientific questions and test them using the highest quality data available. Looking forward, ODISSEI will seek to integrate these calls to make it possible for researchers to access the LISS Panel, Statistics Netherlands data and the ODISSEI Secure
1 www.share-project.org
2 For an overview of the projects, see odissei-data.nl/nl/2019/05/liss-projects-2018/
Supercomputer simultaneously within a single project. This opens up the opportunity for highly innovative and impactful studies to use an integrated data infrastructure to its full capacity. The LISS calls and Microdata Access Grant allow ODISSEI to identify demand and the needs of the research community.
The ODISSEI community includes many advanced and heavy users of the data held by Statistics Netherlands, but they are currently limited by the available computing capacity at Statistics Netherlands. Identifying this demand has led to the biggest advance within ODISSEI over the last two years which has been the creation of the ODISSEI Secure Supercomputer. A fully functioning pilot of the ODISSEI Secure Supercomputer has been delivered by SURFsara in March 2019, on which three high-capacity projects have simultaneously run (described below). The ODISSEI Secure Supercomputer can be used to analyse highly sensitive data in a secure environment, including administrative microdata on persons, households, companies etc. from Statistics Netherlands. This is due to the system’s architecture: SURFsara acts as Trusted Third Party between the data provider and the researcher, and analysis environment is strictly controlled and shielded. The ODISSEI Secure Supercomputer facilitates analysis of any sensitive data, and research communities ranging from humanities to health sciences have shown interest.
The ODISSEI Secure Supercomputer provides the fastest computing capacity in the Netherlands via the national supercomputer3 and obeys the highest standards for data protection imposed by both Statistics Netherlands Law and Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), both legally and technically. The ODISSEI Secure Supercomputer: (1) Is powerful, offering unprecedented computing capacity to social scientists that had previously been unattainable within the Statistics Netherlands microdata services; (2) Provides access to tools and software as well as data ensuring that scientists are fully equipped to answer the most complex of social problems; and (3) Is interoperable with other research infrastructures through a shared architecture provided by SURFsara.
ODISSEI is supported by all deans of social sciences and all deans of economics and business administration in the Netherlands. It is unprecedented in the level of support and commitment received. ODISSEI currently has 33 member organisations, including faculties, governmental research agencies, Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW) and NWO institutes, and Statistics Netherlands. The number of member organisations is constantly growing. All member organisations show their commitment by paying an annual cash contribution determined by the size of their research staff.

Aansluiting bij strategische ontwikkelingen
Not applicable
Gezondheidszorgonderzoek, preventie en behandeling
Op weg naar veerkrachtige samenlevingen
Tussen conflict en coöperatie
Waardecreatie door verantwoorde toegang tot en gebruik van big data
Smart, liveable cities
Sustainable development Goals voor inclusieve mondiale ontwikkeling
Jeugd in ontwikkeling, opvoeding en onderwijs