SAFE Desktop

SAFE, the Secure Analytic Framework Environment (formerly called the Secure Data Desktop/SDD) is a virtual desktop that provides Johns Hopkins Medicine investigators (whether engaged in research or other data-intensive activities) with a secure environment to analyze and share sensitive data (e.g. PHI, PII) with colleagues.

Top Features

  1. Software: the SAFE is installed with productivity software such as Microsoft Word and Excel, as well as statistical software, including SAS, Stata, R, R Studio, and Python. Other software applications can be installed for investigators willing to cover the licensing fees.
  2. Data sharing across study teams: the SAFE can be mapped to a secure file share where investigators can upload and share sensitive data. Data analytic teams can extract data and deliver to the SAFE so that investigators can analyze and view the data together. The SAFE’s basic file share stores up to 100 GB of data; storage can be expanded for an additional fee.
  3. Security: In order to comply with federal and institutional requirements to protect patient data, the physical location of the data extracted, as well as the security of the data while in transit, must be protected against unauthorized access and use. Investigators who use the SAFE reduce the risk of copying data to an unencrypted desktop or device because the SAFE provides the tools to securely analyze and share PHI/PII all within the SAFE environment.


There is no cost for the “basic” SAFE, which includes use of the virtual desktop, 100 GB of storage space, and the licensing for SAS and Stata. Investigators can request additional software or increase the storage space on the file share for a fee. (Fees depend on the specific licensing fee for the software and the amount of storage space requested.)

Future Plans

Future features include batch processing for large analysis tasks to increase processing performance, support for genomic data, and a larger catalog of available applications.

Request Your SAFE

Anyone with a JHED ID can request a SAFE Desktop. To request a SAFE for your study team, send an email to Bonnie Woods at