My research journey, the story about how I achieved this far, hopefully, inspires you…

Technology is a promising field, now and future.

Before taking my higher degree journey, I served as an IT Lecturer at Universitas Ciputra for seven years. The more I learn IT, the more I understand that technology will advance rapidly in the future. Even now, we can see how important technology is and how it changes businesses and human lives. One of the topics I was curious about is Artificial Intelligence (AI).

My study journey is something that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Studying abroad has been one of my childhoods, and my prayer was finally answered in 2017 when I got a scholarship to take Ph.D. study in Queensland, Australia. I studied in several different universities. I was initially accepted at Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane and then moved to Southern Cross University (SCU) in Gold Coast to follow my principal supervisor. In October 2021, I completed my Ph.D. degree at Griffith University in Gold Coast in the Business Strategy and Innovation department, focusing on AI research topics.

My research journey in Australia

AI and Machine Learning have attracted my interest to focus my research on those fields. My Ph.D. study and Research Fellow focus on developing responsible AI solutions in various applications to bring practical benefits for industries.

My doctoral thesis examines responsible AI for automated video surveillance analysis in public spaces. Understanding customer experience can support people’s safety and comfort in public spaces. AI can automate people’s observations and analyze their movement and related properties in real-time. Analyzing people’s facial expressions can provide insight into how comfortable they are in a particular area, while analyzing crowd density can inform us of the area’s safety level. However, there are three challenges in making an AI-enabled surveillance system works well in public spaces. Firstly, existing AI models must be further tailored when deployed to a specific environment. Subsequently, the inclusion of AI’s continual learning capability to adapt models to environmental changes requires long-term data retention and past data, which raise data privacy issues. Lastly, the centralized processing approach used in surveillance systems involves data privacy and security risks.

The study aims to develop an AI-enabled intelligent video surveillance system based on deep learning techniques for public spaces established on responsible AI principles. It formulates three reliable AI criteria, which become the guidelines to design, develop, and evaluate the proposed deep-learning AI solution. The thesis proposes three learning approaches (knowledge transfer, continuous learning, and federated learning) to address limited datasets and minimize sensitive data retention and transmission issues to respect people’s privacy. The research collaborates with a local airport, and three use cases in the airport context are developed for deployment and evaluation purposes.

During that period, I have published one Q1 journal, three international peer-reviewed conference papers [Paper 1, Paper 2, Paper 3], and one call for demos at ICCV 2019 conference. Currently, I am working on two other publications with my supervisor (one working article and one revised article submitted to Q1 journal). While waiting for my thesis examination outcomes, I worked as Research Fellow for an AI research collaboration project with an industry– Everledger, an international start-up in blockchain technology. The project aims to develop an AI technology for luxury item authentication purposes, aligned with my thesis but applied to different applications.

Challenges during my study and what I learned

Ph.D. journey has never been easy. Just like anyone who studied Ph.D. abroad, a lot of stress due to cultural shock, economy, experiment failures, paper rejections, and self-doubting must happen and deal with. These are reasons what make studying abroad becomes more interesting. It is not about learning the topic we study but also about understanding ourselves.

One of the exciting things that I want to share from my experience is the importance of continuous learning without forgetting capability. One of my works during my Ph.D. study has direct significance on AI and human lives. In AI-enabled surveillance, the capability is crucial to allow the surveillance to responsibly adapt to the observed environment that constantly changes without compromising people’s privacy. In human lives, I believe that humans must adapt to survive. I remember wisdom saying, “The only thing that never changes is the everything changes – Louis L’Amour”. It clearly shows the need to adapt to change by keeping learning. My research further extends and refines the latest Learning without Forgetting (LwF) method at that time to periodically learn new people in the context of person re-identification while alleviating catastrophic forgetting and reducing sensitive data retention issues. The work has been published and presented in the 2019 16th IEEE International Conference on Advanced Video and Signal Based Surveillance (AVSS) and was awarded as Best Runner Up Paper.

My sincere thanks to everyone!

My Ph.D. is attributed to the immense support received from numerous people and institutions. My sincere thanks to my great supervisors, Professor Dian Tjondronegoro and Professor Rosemary Stockdale, for their tremendous and constant support, guidance, and encouragement throughout my study. These people have always believed me since the beginning! Thank you to Griffith University for the financial support that led to the completion of this work.

My heartfelt thanks go to my parents, wife, family, colleagues in Universitas Ciputra, and friends for their steady mental support, prayer, and encouragement during my study journey. I could not have completed my study without their devotion, sacrifice, and continued prayers. Their encouragement kept me going to reach the finish line. I hope my sharing could inspire you to keep praying and pursuing your dream.

written by: Nehemia Sugianto, Ph.D.

editor: SEW