CRIS Spotlight on …

Working Securely: Remote Data Collection and Storage

Shifting our way of work requires the adoption of alternate tools and technologies. Find out about available tools and supports to collect and store research data securely.

Collecting Data Remotely

REDCap

  • REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture) is a free and secure web application that University of Toronto faculty and researchers can use to build and manage online surveys and databases. REDCap can be used to collect many types of data, but it is specifically geared to support online or offline data capture for research studies and operations. For a comprehensive list of REDCap features, visit: https://projectredcap.org/software/
  • The physical infrastructure for the University of Toronto’s REDCap instance is completely maintained within the University’s highly secure, limited-access Data Centre. All collected data is kept on premises while it exists within the REDCap instance. Each survey owner is responsible for their own data management plan.
  • REDCap is supported by Academic and Collaborative Technologies (ACT), and new users can access a start-up guide, as well as comprehensive resources available through the REDCap consortium. On-boarding for REDCap is rolling out to new users on a divisional basis.
  • CRIS in collaboration with ACT launched a REDCap training series aimed at equipping REDCap users at the University of Toronto with the ability to build their own electronic data collection tools. Video recordings of past sessions of the REDCap training series can be found in the CRIS Video Library.

MS Teams

  • MS Teams is a communication and collaboration platform that can be used to conduct virtual interviews and focus groups. Teams has both a video and audio function, and external participants can be invited to join. There is also an option to record meetings in Teams, with automatic notification to participants. The recording is stored within the Team and is available to the owner.
  • MS Teams is part of Office 365 and is considered a secure storage facility. It is appropriate for data classified up to and including level three of the University’s data classification structure (e.g., Confidential data). This is based on the Privacy Impact Assessment and Threat Risk Analysis conducted by the University.
  • MS Teams is supported by EASI. To learn how to set up a Team, see Good Practices for Teams from home. Check Connect + Learning sessions for training.

Zoom

  • Zoom is a video and audio collaboration platform that is provisionally approved for use as a University of Toronto tools, and it allows individuals to run their own interactive meetings with up to 300 participants. Zoom has a recording functionality that allows the meeting host to record the online session locally on their computer or in the cloud. The breakout rooms function in Zoom allows for smaller group collaboration within a large group.
  • To request a U of T Zoom education account, contact your divisional IT/EdTech or check the Academic & Collaborative Technologies (ACT) website for information on how to make a request.
  • Support for Zoom is provided by departmental or divisional IT groups. If you require assistance with Zoom, please contact your divisional IT unit directly. Check UTM Knowledge Base Zoom links for helpful information about Zoom.
  • Comparison Chart on Zoom Education, Zoom Webinar, MS Teams Meeting and MS Live – This comparison chart developed by CRIS provides a detailed comparison of the overview, features and roles in Zoom Education, Zoom Webinar, MS Teams Meeting and MS Live. The document also lists other software used for online conferencing and their respective pros and cons.

VoIP Virtual User+ and Premium User Account

  • The BroadConnect Voice over IP client makes it possible to complete audio and video calls as if you were in your office. Users can log into their account on their computer or on a SmartPhone via the Communicator 7 App. With a Premium User account you can activate collaboration tools such as ‘My Room’ a personal conference bridge and video calling. This is an available option for phone interviews with one or multiple persons. Tutorials on using VOIP are available here.
  • A full institutional risk assessment was completed, and all voice and video calls are encrypted in transit.
  • More information on Voice over IP may be found on the Telecommunications site

Other Conferencing Platforms

  • Several divisions may use other platforms for the purposes of teaching and administrative work (e.g., Zoom), these are not institutionally endorsed for research purposes. A summary of some of these platforms can be found here.

Storing and Sharing Project Data

Data can be stored securely by connecting remotely to Office 365 services such as OneDrive or SharePoint, or departmental network storage through VPN.  Note the options described below are not meant to serve as long-term data repositori