Rochester Technology

RIT grad explores the ethical back alleys of red light cameras.

Through the advent of the Internet, it has become true that computers can take you anywhere. However, for RIT graduate student, Tommy Keane, this virtual train of thought has become a real life adventure.

Keane, who received his dual BS/MS from RIT’s electrical engineering program in 2011, is now pursuing his doctoral degree in the Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science – which led him to Ragusa, Sicily for one week this past July to team up with other doctoral students from around the world for the International Computer Vision Summer School. If that alone weren’t exciting enough, during his week in Sicily, Keane was awarded the inaugural “Brady Prize”, named for the academic equivalent of his great- grandfather, Michael Brady (his adviser’s adviser’s adviser – get it?) This prestigious award stresses the social impact of technology alongside the fundamental goals of research and development.

So what exactly did Keane do to receive such an honor? He discussed the perhaps missed ethical flaws in something that has become very near and dear to our beloved Rochester over the past year: traffic light cameras, and the “ethical traffic jam when surveillance and privacy rights collide.” Keane’s study poses that surveillance of people in public areas could potentially expose a great deal of information regarding their identity, habits, location, and intentions, leading to presupposed judgments on the individual. Keane also notes that traffic cameras should be used as a tool, not a replacement solution, adding, “Roadway surveillance for tracking and monitoring individuals seems to be band-aids put on the problem of reckless driving.”

Although the most recent, Sicily was not the first adventure Keane’s doctoral studies have taken him on. Back in March, Keane traveled alongside fellow students from and RIT/U of R collaboration to Death Valley National Park in California to collect eye-tracking data. During this study, Keane captured panoramic and still imagery to track how students gain knowledge by focusing on important features and blocking out unnecessary information.

It’s been an exciting year for Keane, but his computer vision travels won’t be stopping any time soon. After completing his doctoral degree, Keane plans to pursue a career in industry developing algorithms for three-dimensional technology for film or television productions.

So, on that note – what did you do this summer?

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.

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