John is UCLan’s Digital Safety Advocate, Director of UCLan’s Missing Person Investigation Unit and heads the Security and Forensic Research Group (SAFeR). He is a member of the Child Computer Interaction Group and the Criminal Justice Partnership. John has more than a decade of experience teaching digital investigation techniques to undergraduate and postgraduate level students in Policing and Computer Science. He is passionate about guiding student learning through socially responsible problem-based learning. He is a fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA), Member of the British Computer Society (MBCS) and Member of the Association of Computing Machinery (MACM).
Digital systems are both pervasive and ubiquitous within modern society; digital continued to function even when whole societies locked down during the covid-19 pandemic. Despite the importance of digital systems they are open to misuse which could lead to harm. In his role as UCLan’s Digital Safety Advocate John is responsible for building networks within the UCLan community for like-minded individuals/teams to collaborate in this area.
John sits on the Advisory Board for the “Locate International” charity; this organisation was set up by ex-police officers working within person protection. John organised UCLan’s “Missing Person Investigation Unit” where he is currently the Director. This unit is staffed by student volunteers using open-source intelligence techniques to search the cyber space for intelligence related to missing people. This service is provided to families of missing people and to the police free of charge.
For over 15 years, John has been the course leader for the Forensic Computing (and more recently Forensic Computing and Security) degree course within the School of Computer Science at UCLan. John also led the course development team which created the BSc Cyber Security degree and BSc Cyber Security Technical Professional integrated apprenticeship course.
Other roles held within the school include the Retention Coordinator, sitting on the Academic Development Committee and Personal Tutor / Academic Advisor. John holds a student-centric approach to his day-to-day activities which has led to further opportunities for students to further their academic careers. John facilitated the University appointing four Visiting Fellows related to the Cyber Security industry; these Visiting Fellows bring industry experience and tales much sought after by the student body. John led co-developed a “Capture the Flag” competition used during open days and outreach to demonstrate cyber-security problem solving.
John has socially responsible attitude towards Computer Science and enjoys helping other people. While acknowledging the fantastic things that can be accomplished with digital technologies there will be times when computers are compromised, causing harm to people. Central to John’s teaching theme is that digital can be used to prevent harm, but also can be used investigate those that cause harm. His research has focused around helping young children (aged 7-11 years old) take a mindful approach to the disclosure of private information within an online setting.
- MRes Child Computer Interaction, University of Central Lancashire, 2016
- Postgraduate Certificate in Computer Forensics and Investigations, Open University, 2011
- BSc (Hons) Software Engineering, University of Central Lancashire, 1997
- UCLan Golden Roses, Lecturer of the Year, shortlisted 2012
- UCLan Golden Roses, Personal Tutor of the Year, shortlisted 2014
- Digital Investigation
- Digital Intelligence
- Open Source Intelligence (OSINT)
- Privacy Enhancing Technologies
- Digital Safety
- Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA)
- Member of the British Computer Society (MBCS)
- Member of the Association of Computer Machinery (MACM)
- External Examiner, Portsmouth University 2020-2024
The focus of Child Computer Interaction has been about the inclusion of children in the design process to improve their experiences of digital technologies in a positive way. On area that has largely been neglected, until recently, is the design process for online safety, including parental concerns and education. January 2021, the United Nations have adopted the “general comment 25” which describes the rights of children in relation to the digital environment which, among other things, says that children have the right to privacy while using the digital environment. John’s research is underpinned by the principle that children disclose too much information online, either to other people, or to 3rd parties such as businesses; and that once that information is disclosed it is impossible (or at least, really difficult) for that to be forgotten. Businesses may sell that data, the data may be processed to build profiles, and profiles may be targeted for advertising purposes/commercialisation. People may use that information for completely innocent reasons but may also use it for cyber-bullying or other evil purposes.
John is developing a set of guidelines which will help system designers develop privacy enhancing tools within their own computer systems. Rather than develop a tool himself, the guidelines will provide principles which can be applied within different product contexts. Over 140 children were involved in a participatory design session that led to the development of the design guidelines; these design guidelines were then used by a professional designer before being tested/evaluated by another group of children.
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- Security and Forensic Research (SAFeR) in Computing
- Child Computer Interaction Group (ChiCI Group)
- Criminal Justice Partnership
- Crime Solutions, “Development of introductory distance learning course collaborating with Cyfor”, Co-Investigator, £5000, 2006
- Equipment Fund, “Digital Forensic Equipment”, Principle Investigator, £42,300, 2006
- Science and Technology Teaching and Learning Fund, “Develop a Capture the Flag (CtF) Competition”, Principle Investigator, £3000, 2019
- Lancashire Digital Life Research Centre, “AirSENSEI: A low cost network of air quality sensors for primary school pupils”, Principle Investigator, £2200, 2019
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