Mike Richards

Senior Lecturer

Mike has been the lead investigator on the eVolcán project putting ubiquitous computing technologies to work at active volcanoes. More than 500 million people live close enough to one or more active volcanoes that they are threatened not just by catastrophic eruptions, but also by the constant emission of low levels of toxic gases into their environment. Solid-state sensors, mobile communications networks and cheap, low-power computers allow continuous monitoring of even the most remote sites, providing timely warnings and accurate scientific data about volcanic activity. The project is especially challenging, not only because it requires hardware capable of surviving heat, cold, toxic (and often corrosive) gases, rain, snow, ash, mud, the occasional large rock falling from the sky  and animals; but also human factors including government bureaucracy and vandalism.

Mike was co-chair of the introductory module TU100 My Digital Life which encourages learning through play, exploration and having fun. He helped create the SenseBoard hardware and the Sense programming language which allow novice students to build and program their own simple ubiquitous computing devices within a few minutes of opening the (very pretty) box. Students explore how these devices have the potential to change the world - for good and bad and see how the world is already changing in especially shot videos filmed as far afield as MIT, Iceland and Nepal.

He is deeply involved in the Faculty's cybersecurity programme and was an author on the FutureLearn MOOC Introduction to Cybersecurity, as well as the hands-on postgraduate computer forensics module Digital Forensics. When not writing, Mike is also helping build relations between the OU and universities in East Africa.

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