Our aim was to empower researchers to access health data from around the world in a responsible way to tackle COVID-19.  The ICODA Workbench provided the processes and tools to enable researchers to analyse data from many different datasets to address key research questions.

A woman in a lab coat standing in a lab holding a pen blue curved line blue curved line

Tools for Researchers

The International COVID-19 Data Alliance (ICODA) was convened to enable and accelerate responsible research.  At its heart, the “Workbench” – a data platform which was provided by our alliance partner Aridhia Informatics allowed researchers to discover, access and analyse global multi-dimensional datasets while respecting confidentiality and privacy. The Workbench brought together a combination of tools and processes, able connect to regional or national data infrastructures used by ICODA members.

Our platform brought together data and metadata from projects and federated repositories around the world to allow our driver project teams to work collectively on focused research questions.  Data access and use was subject to rigorous data governance processes, based on the five safes framework.  As the ICODA initiative concluded in October 2022, the metadata made available via our ICODA Gateway is now available as a collection on HDR’s Innovation Gateway, such that researchers outside our driver projects can continue to apply for access.

For researchers, ICODA and the Workbench, provided a unique combination of features – direct, controlled and federated access to curated datasets and to the most advanced analytical tools.  All of these were developed and tested using our “Driver Projects” – exemplar studies where ICODA is worked in close partnership with data contributors and the research community to enable research into the questions they cared about.

Access to the Workbench was provided free of charge to researchers affiliated with ICODA Driver Projects once they were accredited and their project proposals approved.  It was accessible to researchers from all parts of the world and we particularly welcomed researchers from Low- and Middle- Income Countries (LMICs).

The Workbench was not just a place to access datasets.  It acted as a hub for the global research and innovation community, with access to expertise, training and support available – all with the aim of advancing our vision to support the global research response to COVID-19.

Take a look at the features and benefits of the COVID-19 Workbench and watch a demo of the Workbench in action.   Should you wish to use the Workbench as the trusted research environment in your projects, please contact our partner Aridhia Informatics.

  • "The Workbench adopts an ecosystem approach, supporting open science to tackle COVID-19. This means we want to enable people to form dedicated teams, bring data, code, expertise, and have freedom to operate within the domain of their driver project. And we want to do this while ensuring appropriate use and governance of the data.”

    David Sibbald

    CEO Aridhia Informatics

Our policies

In order to provide clear and transparent ways of working, our policies addressed a number of key activities:

  • Researchers were required to be accredited: qualifications checked, institutional affiliation and bona fide researcher status established
  • Project proposals were reviewed for: scientific merit, patient benefit, appropriate statistical analysis plans, facilitation of high quality research, availability of relevant data that could answer the question proposed and whether participant privacy would be protected. Our Review Process Policy sets out further details.
  • Our Output Review Process sets out the reviews undertaken for research outputs
  • Project proposals in lay form are published
  • All of our researchers signed up to our Alliance principles
  • Our Workbench had a Terms of Use agreement governing its usage
  • Our Publication policy and Attribution and Acknowledgment policy provided guidance for the publication of research results.

Generic governance processes for re-use

These process documents were created as part of the ICODA programme. They are open, free to use and amend as needed by your organisation, we just request you attribute us following our Attribution Policy.

Generic data controllership agreements for re-use

These agreements were created as part of the ICODA programme. They are open, free to use and amend as needed in support of establishing your organisation as a data controller, we just request you attribute us following our Attribution Policy. You can find background to this capability and the agreements used as part of the ICODA programme and generic versions provided for re-use on our data controllership page.

How to join us

Our research was performed within a number of Driver Projects.  These were designed to test our processes and systems whilst contributing to knowledge around COVID-19.

Although the ICODA initiative completed in October 2022, researchers are still able to apply for access to data via submitting requests through our ICODA Gateway, HDR’s Innovation Gateway or contacting the Driver Project leads to see how they can contribute to their ongoing research efforts.


ICODA stands for the “International COVID-19 Data Alliance”. An international alliance of partners, who united to harness the power of health data to respond to the COVID-19 global pandemic.  The ICODA initiative ran from July 2020 until October 2022. You can find out more about it in the About Us section of this website.

The ICODA initiative has outputs in a number of different forms.  Each is hotlinked below:

Governance processes
Generic governance processes for re-use
– Research Driver projects and their impacts
– Webinar and event replays available from our news pages

Digital object identifiers (DOIs) have been associated with the majority of these outputs and will continue to be created as more outputs are published.

In order to access the Workbench, you needed to be part of an ICODA Driver Project.  As the ICODA initiative has completed, should you wish to use the Workbench now, please contact Aridhia Informatics who provided this service to ICODA.

In order to access data, our researchers were required to be accredited with an approved project proposal or be part of an approved project team.

Now the initiative has completed, please apply for data access through our HDR’s Innovation Gateway or by contacting the Driver Project leads

Yes, ICODA operated a proportionate set of review processes in order to ensure it operated in a safe, trustworthy and transparent manner. Similar review processes are in place should you apply for access as indicated above.

Each of the Driver Projects provided and provisioned data sets, with new data sets being made available throughout the initiative. You can request access to these by following the links above.

The Workbench provided a secure, airlocked analysis environment, which gave ICODA researchers access to cutting edge tools within a Workspace.  Data was analysed in the Workspace using standard tools such as R and SQL; R-shiny apps could be written and deployed; Visual Analytics and Meta Analysis apps were provided and the tooling within Workspaces was extensible based on project need.

No.  The Workbench provided a secure “airlocked” trusted research environment.  Researchers were not able to download data.

No, ICODA did not hold data.  The data resided with data custodians and was provisioned for processing by individual approved projects for the duration of their projects.

Please contact the service desk at our technology partner, Aridhia Informatics and they will help you further.