Student Spotlight: Yanzi Jin

YanziYanzi Jin is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). She is currently involved in an ICT/IDOT video analysis project, “Opportunistic Traffic Sensing Using Existing Video Sources (Phase II)” with Jakob Eriksson, assistant professor at UIC, using existing videos from Chicago’s network of traffic-monitoring cameras. The goal of this project is to create a software framework that is able to generate reasonable counts of vehicles using traffic cam footage in order to assist with traffic analysis.

Currently, she is working to improve the quality of video analysis in terms of computation speed and when used in more challenging scenarios, such as during extreme weather or at night.

Jin also assisted with another project, “Leveraging Traffic and Surveillance Video Cameras for Urban Traffic,” which was the subject of a previous ICT project spotlight and the first phase of the current project. The results from Phase I were promising enough to warrant the Phase II project.

Along with Eriksson, Jin has been working on a system to use existing traffic cameras to collect traffic data. A major challenge is to help the software discern what in a particular image is a car as opposed to background. Jin says the most difficult part of this project is that the data are not from a standard dataset. The video captured by the traffic cameras has all sorts of noise, but to be useful, they need to ensure a high degree of accuracy in the detections.

“It took me two years to build the processing pipeline, including failed attempts on various topics in computer vision. There are always new problems coming from the data, both challenging and fun,” she says.

The effort has been worth it—the accuracy of the final product from Phase I of the project was better than 90% under good viewing and weather conditions.

When asked what she likes most about working on this project, Jin says, “I have been trying to find a balance between academic innovation and practical use, which is a valuable experience—and I am still working on it.”