Posted June. 15, 2009 06:54,
The image analysis department of the National Institute of Scientific Investigation received a request from the National Police Agency to create a program to analyze surveillance camera images.
The program was to replace an expensive import plagued with difficulty in accurately distinguishing license plates on cars.
Department researchers Lee Joong, Kim Joon-seok and Mun Ki-woong, who were well aware of the problem, began to develop a new program from early 2007. After another year of research, they developed their own program late last year and distributed it free to police and military investigators.
The new program is said to outperform its foreign counterpart by integrating three important functions; license plate reading that accounts for the standard number plate size in Korea; measurement of a suspects height and other physical information even from low resolution images; and replay of surveillance camera images.
Even in the developmental stage, the program greatly assisted last year investigations into the murder of a female college student in Gunpo, Gyeonggi Province; the death of a Mokpo Coast Guard officer who was looking for Chinese fishing boats operating illegally; and the shooting death of a South Korean tourist at Mount Kumkang in North Korea.
It also played an important part in the arrest of serial killer Kang Ho-soon by categorizing cars that could have been used in his crimes by type and year.
Researcher Kim said, By replacing the import program with a domestic one, we saved 3.7 billion won (three million U.S. dollars) in budget. The technology has also been recognized by other countries, including China, which has shown interest in the program.
Despite numerous incidents of government waste such as misappropriation of the welfare budget, innovative ideas have sprung up to save public funds like the surveillance program.
The Strategy and Finance Ministry yesterday said it will offer incentives worth 327 million won (260,000 dollars) to 239 public officials who have helped cut costs or raised fiscal revenue of a combined 492.8 billion won (400 million dollars). The three researchers received 25 million won (20,000 dollars) as a bonus.
Tax officials who directly contributed to raising tax revenues were also honored. Cho Byeong-seong and two others at the National Tax Service caught a global investment bank for trying to evade taxes, earning a reward of 15 million won (12,000 dollars).
The bank tried to avoid paying tax by saying it had no fixed office in Korea despite earning commissions of 38 billion won (30 million dollars) for its part in M&As and ownership disposal of a Korean company. The tax officials secured evidence of how long the banks employees stayed in Korea by investigating their arrivals in the country with the help of a security company and immigration officials.
In the end, the bank was ordered to pay corporate taxes of 4.7 billion won (3.7 million dollars).
Other public officials cut costs by rejecting outdated practices and adopting a new method of procurement. Lee Dong-gyu and two others at the National Election Commission introduced a competitive bidding system for envelopes used to send official election notices through the Public Procurement Service, which saved 719 million won (573,000 dollars).
A Strategy and Finance Ministry official said, The introduction of the new bidding system invited a huge backlash from those with vested rights, and they also threatened us with slanderous comments, but the commitment and conviction of the three officials helped us to save budget.