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CSIRO researchers aim to boost digital economy by $4 billion

The Digital Productivity and Services Flagship project will be headed up by the CSIRO’s Ian Opperman.

The CSIRO is aiming to add $4 billion per annum to Australia’s economy by 2025 through a new $40 million research program.

The 'Digital Productivity and Services Flagship' initiative was launched today in Sydney by communications minister Senator Stephen Conroy.

The CSIRO aims to lift Australia’s productivity through research in four key areas – government; commercial; health; and smart infrastructure.

The CSIRO will combine its ICT, mathematics, economics and social science research areas for the project and optimise Australia’s use of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

“The National Broadband Network’s universal high-speed broadband is the platform from which [Australia’s productivity] potential will be realised. It will allow online innovation that will benefit all Australians in all aspects of their lives,” Conroy said today at the launch.

“Individuals, businesses and governments must move online because it is where our individual and current economic future lies. If we are to compete internationally to maintain a high wage, high-skilled economy, we need to be at the forefront of digital innovation.

“This message is not just for the IT industry. It’s relevant to every industry.”

The program will be headed up by the CSIRO’s Ian Opperman.

He said Australia faces the challenge of maintaining a competitive edge on a global scale.

“Our labour productivity has declined from around 92 per cent relative to the US in 1998 to around 84 per cent in 2010, meaning Australia’s economic prospects beyond the current resources boom will deteriorate significantly if the decline in our productivity growth performance is not reversed,” he said in a statement.

The program is currently conducting research on reducing waiting times at hospitals. Researchers are identifying bottlenecks in Queensland hospitals to make predictions on how many people will present at the emergency department. It will also work with other state health departments to improve health services.

The research program will also help improve decision-making at the government level; develop efficient and effective services in the commercial sector, with a focus on financial services; and extend Australia’s physical and cyber infrastructure.

Conroy said the program would also demonstrate and utilise value in broadband infrastructure, improve wireless communications and research 3D mapping, cloud and tele-presence in health.

“What we are looking at is a transformation in which digital innovation and high-speed broadband will fuel productivity growth across every sector,” Conroy said.

“We are just at the beginning. Digital capabilities are going to change every aspect of our lives.”

Follow Stephanie McDonald on Twitter: @stephmcdonald0

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