USDA Economic Research Service Secure Data Enclave
Researchers need secure, remote access to high-quality USDA data.
Much of the government’s data about the nation’s food supply come from third parties. In their raw form, these data often contain discrepancies, mistakes, and gaps. This makes it extremely difficult for academic and government researchers to produce accurate studies and reports about agricultural production, hunger, and food insecurity.
NORC cleans and harmonizes USDA information and hosts it in the NORC Data Enclave®.
Since 2006, the USDA Economic Research Service (ERS) has employed the NORC Data Enclave® to host, normalize, and provide access to restricted-use datasets. Data sources include the Agricultural Resource Management Survey (ARMS), the National Household Food Acquisition and Purchase Survey (FoodAPS), and the third-party Information Resources, Inc. (IRI) Scanner data.
NORC coordinates with USDA to regularly ingest, clean, standardize, and enhance inbound data. Once the data pass quality control, NORC gives authorized researchers access to the data via NORC's secure and controlled environment, the NORC Data Enclave®. Through the NORC Data Enclave®, researchers can perform complex analyses and gain insights that would not be possible with public-use data. The platform's secure infrastructure and restricted access controls help to protect the confidentiality and privacy of individuals and organizations represented in the data.
NORC enables a diverse community of researchers to find solutions for sustaining our nation’s farms and food supply.
The partnership between USDA ERS and NORC has produced a wealth of trustworthy data that continues to inform innovative research and support a vast researcher base. Topics have included the growth of food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic and the spread of food deserts in low-income neighborhoods. Ensuring high data utility and quality has translated into researchers finding increased success publishing their ERS-based research.
NORC staff are committed to working closely with USDAERS to ensure the data remains secure and accurate, providing researchers with the insights they need to address important agricultural and food-related issues.
“The third-party IRI data processed into the Data Enclave must be standardized and harmonized before researchers use them. This standardization process creates consistency where third-party data collection methods may change from year to year. Partnering with USDA ERS, NORC employs a robust standardization process that provides a consistent and controlled data experience for the research community.”