Purdue University Graduate School
final-exam-thesis-v5.pdf (56.38 MB)

Utility-Preserving Face Redaction and Change Detection For Satellite Imagery

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posted on 2021-11-22, 17:49 authored by Hanxiang HaoHanxiang Hao

Face redaction is needed by law enforcement and mass media outlets to guarantee privacy. In this thesis, a performance analysis of several face redaction/obscuration methods, such as blurring and pixelation is presented. The analysis is based on various threat models and obscuration attackers to achieve a comprehensive evaluation. We show that the traditional blurring and pixelation methods cannot guarantee privacy. To provide a more secured privacy protection, we propose two novel obscuration methods that are based on the generative adversarial networks. The proposed methods not only remove the identifiable information, but also preserve the non-identifiable facial information (as known as the utility information), such as expression, age, skin tone and gender.

We also propose methods for change detection in satellite imagery. In this thesis, we consider two types of building changes: 2D appearance change and 3D height change. We first present a model with an attention mechanism to detect the building appearance changes that are caused by natural disasters. Furthermore, to detect the changes of building height, we present a height estimation model that is based on building shadows and solar angles without relying on height annotation. Both change detection methods require good building segmentation performance, which might be hard to achieve for the low-quality images, such as off-nadir images. To solve this issue, we use uncertainty modeling and satellite imagery metadata to achieve accurate building segmentation for the noisy images that are taken from large off-nadir angles.


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Electrical and Computer Engineering

Campus location

  • West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Edward J. Delp

Additional Committee Member 2

Amy R. Reibman

Additional Committee Member 3

Mary L. Comer

Additional Committee Member 4

Fengqing M. Zhu