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Photo by Fotis Fotopoulos on Unsplash

Last week we released a new version of Cantabular with a big new feature: a disclosure rules language.

The disclosure rules language, or DRL, is a tool to help statisticians automate decisions about table publication which they might previously have made using manual analysis techniques. It does this by letting its users encode their own confidentiality rules in a language designed for this purpose.

It works with our API and user interfaces to automatically check requests for tables built from confidential datasets for disclosure risks such as identity disclosure, attribute disclosure and sparsity.

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Figure 1: A schematic of the operation of the DRL within Cantabular.

Statistical disclosure control at speed and scale for the England and Wales Census

The ONS is deep in preparations for the Census next year, and is working to make sure that business, government and wider society get as much value from the next Census as possible. One path to accomplish this is by allowing people to make their own queries of the data gathered in 2021, instead of relying on a smaller set of predetermined tables. …


The Sensible Code Company is pleased to announce the appointment of Gerry O’Hanlon, former Director General Central Statistics Ireland, as a non executive director.

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SensibleCode recently signed a £1.3 million contract with the UK Office for National Statistics, for Cantabular; data privacy technology that delivers real time statistical disclosure control.

Gerry O’Hanlon said …. “I am delighted to be joining The Sensible Code Company as a Non-Executive Director. As a career statistician, an ever-present key challenge was to maximise the statistical potential of available data to meet the needs of all users while ensuring that the principle of statistical confidentiality was fully adhered to in respect of all data subjects. …


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Talking through the ideas

We’d planned a hack day at the Office for National Statistics for our work on Census 2021 towards the end of May. But the arrival of Covid-19 meant we had to pivot to making the event virtual.

The objective was to allow ONS data scientists and analysts the opportunity to road test an innovation that will happen when anonymised, high level Census 2021 data are released. It’s called flexible table builder and is powered by our software Cantabular.

Cantabular applies privacy protections as a query is processed in order to produce safe tables of aggregated data. …


Sensible Code is looking for a senior software engineer to work on Cantabular which is being used by the Office for National Statistics for dissemination process improvement for the 2021 Census.

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Key things to know about this job

  • May involve development of performance critical code
  • Participation in all stages of the software lifecycle using GitHub flow
  • Technologies include: Go, HTML, CSS, Python, JavaScript / TypeScript, Linux, Docker, Git and AWS
  • Remote working with use of office space in Belfast
  • Some on-site customer visits and events as necessary
  • Applicants should be within a 2 hour flight time of the UK

Your skills…


The UK based Office for National Statistics has selected Cantabular to allow flexible dissemination for Census 2021 data. The UK Census is a significant project in both scale and budget (estimate for 2011 Census £482 million over a decade).

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Cantabular — Real-time flexible data dissemination with powerful privacy protection

Cantabular is designed for organisations that want to share statistics derived from sensitive and potentially personally identifiable data, whilst protecting privacy. It is designed to modernise statistics.

Sensible Code decided to use the Go programming language (also known as Golang) to build the latest version of its product. The Cantabular team have been working on it for three years and found Go a great fit; almost everyone developing in Go at Sensible Code learned it on the project. …


The team at Sensible Code have been busy for a few years working on an innovative privacy preserving technology called Cantabular. This highly performant disclosure control algorithm protects data in real time as a user or reasearcher makes a query.

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Cantabular — Modernising statistics by automating disclosure control processes and putting more power in the hands of end-users.

The UK based Office for National Statistics has selected Cantabular to allow flexible dissemination for anonymised Census 2021 data.

We’re delighted to be working with the ONS, given its international reputation as the gold standard in statistical practice. Our technology will transform the way Census 2021 data is disseminated and deliver higher value to the economy, through better policy, better business decisions and valuable research. The software applies robust statistical disclosure control techniques in real time. …


We’re looking for a senior methodologist to help build our core expertise in the discipline and to shape our product Cantabular.

Key things to know about this job:

  • Could be a full or part-time role
  • supporting our technical team in designing approaches to SDC
  • supporting our work with large enterprise customers like the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and other statistical institutes and agencies
  • participating and speaking at international conferences
  • writing technical papers
  • must be within a 2 hour flight to Belfast, Northern Ireland
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Your skills are:

  • have a working knowledge of SDC methods and algorithms
  • a proficiency or keen enthusiast with stats packages: e.g R, SAS, Python
  • an ability to interpret and describe the latest SDC…

The UK-based Office for National Statistics has selected Belfast company SensibleCode and its privacy preserving technology Cantabular for disseminating anonymised Census 2021 data.

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The three year contract valued at £1.3m is a significant commercial win for the company that specialises in products for modernising statistics.

The ONS is improving the way it disseminates data in order to add value to its community of users. Cantabular applies data anonymisation in real time as a user makes a census query. Data can be published sooner, users can self service their queries and researchers can get access to a high speed API to allow seamless data processing.

Aine McGUIRE, Commercial Director, SensibleCode. “We’re delighted to be working with the ONS, given its international reputation as the gold standard in statistical practice. Our technology will transform the way Census 2021 data is disseminated and deliver higher value to the economy, through better policy, better business decisions and valuable research. The software applies robust statistical disclosure control techniques in real time. The ONS is able to compute millions of tables of data at high speed whilst protecting anonymity and to ensure data are non-disclosive”. …


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Pipeline for processing personal data

Statistics professionals within public sector agencies take great care in how they process and protect personal data and this is reflected in the trust and respect they enjoy from their customers and the public at large. #GDPR has thrown a further spotlight on governance around data confidentiality.

A significant increase in the number of new data sources and a drive to make use of admin data means more data is being processed and published. …


Over the past 9 months we’ve added substantial capability to TableBuilder. The end game is to allow the Office for National Statistics, England and Wales to publish more 2021 Census data tables, much sooner, while ensuring that data is kept confidential.

The Office for National Statistics is a trusted organisation: it commits to ensuring that the personal information people provide will be kept safe and secure. It also has to comply with confidentiality requirements set out in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007, the Data Protection Act 1998 and the forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation.

Publishing more tables for diverse areas

Access to finer grained data across the England and Wales will mean that decisions made which are based on census data can be better. Disclosure control rules are complex and historically they’ve been applied manually. This meant they were mostly applied uniformly across different geographical areas because there are too many output areas to consider: about 180,000 in England and Wales. This gave rise to a problem: tables that could be created for diverse areas (like Barnet in London) were not published because the similar table would be too disclosive in, for example, Northumberland. …

About

The Sensible Code Company

SensibleCode make products that modernise the processing and dissemination of data. Here we tell our stories. More about us at http://sensiblecode.io/

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