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29 January 2013 News Release

Thanks to a strong resources sector, Australia’s economy has weathered the global financial crisis. But overall productivity has dropped, placing us behind other OECD countries.

Around 80 percent of our GDP comes from the services industries, yet while workers of developing nations increase their skills, our productivity is declining.

We need to do things in ways we never thought possible.

Innovation and a thriving digital economy are essential for Australia’s economic growth and international standing.

CSIRO’s Digital Productivity and Services Flagship is a A$40 million research initiative aiming to help businesses and government deliver services in more innovative, faster and better ways by boosting the generation, transmission and consumption of digital services.

By improving ways of delivering services and making the most of the national broadband infrastructure, we'll tackle the big challenges in health service delivery, government and commercial services and create smarter and more secure infrastructure.

Rising health costs and an aging population threaten our health system and change is needed.

We’re working with Australian health service providers to offer tools, technologies and insights to help them manage increasing demands for health services, Australia-wide.

Our research and innovation will help people in the way they can access health care, and improve the delivery of health services to remote communities.

Government and business generate massive volumes of data, but making sense of this information and using it to guide decision making can be difficult and costly.

We’re helping organisations improve their productivity and boost effectiveness in the way services are delivered resulting in increased competitiveness, the development of new products and greater efficiency of services.

Securing Australia’s physical and cyber infrastructure is an ever-increasing challenge.

Collaborating with government agencies and private industry, we’re creating smarter solutions to enhance and protect Australia’s critical infrastructure.

Our high performance technologies will increase the productivity of industry, and emerging broadband enabled services will unlock the value of a national broadband infrastructure.

CSIRO’s research expertise places us in a leading position to tackle Australia’s productivity decline.

Some of our work will be in labs, but most of it will happen in businesses and departments across Australia, as we create opportunities for technology to improve the way services are delivered.

By 2025 The Digital Productivity and Services Flagship aims to create A$4 billion in added value per year for the economy, and most exciting of all, shape an innovative digital future for all Australians.

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CSIRO will today launch Australia's largest publically-funded research initiative focused on the digital economy.

The Digital Productivity and Services Flagship, CSIRO's tenth National Research Flagship, is a $40 million research initiative focusing on the services sector and optimising the full value of national broadband infrastructure.

The Director of the Flagship Dr Ian Oppermann says the new Flagship is focused on helping Australia transition from being a predominantly resource-focused nation by developing and delivering more efficient and innovative digitally-enhanced services.

"Australia is faced with the challenge of maintaining a competitive economic edge in an increasingly complex and resource-limited world," Dr Oppermann says.

"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.

"A successful digital economy is essential for Australia's economic growth and to maintain our international standing.  The services sector represents about 80 per cent of Australia's GDP, so if we are to help Australia grow, we must help businesses and government deliver services in new, faster and better ways.

"CSIRO's expertise in cybersecurity, broadband technologies and services science positions us as the key organisation to take on this research. While some of our work will be in labs, most of it will happen out in businesses and departments across Australia; finding ways to apply technology to improve the way they deliver their services."

Dr Oppermann says the Flagship has the potential to transform a range of areas – from the way health services are delivered to the way banks manage their funds.

"For example, we are working to reduce hospital waiting times and identify bottlenecks in Queensland hospitals by predicting how many patients will turn up in emergency departments, and when.

"By investing in our services sector we aim to help Australia remain competitive in the global economy, now and into the future. We are looking forward to working with our government and industry partners to help Australia grow through the digital economy."

The Flagship builds on CSIRO's successful track record in health service delivery, logistics, finance and communications. The Flagship will initially focus on four key research areas:

  • Government Services – develop efficient and effective information use, government services and systems through improved decisions, coordination and customer centricity.
  • Commercial Services – with a strong focus on financial services, develop efficient and effective commercial services and systems through better use of capital and improved service delivery models and processes across supply chains.
  • Smart, Secure Infrastructure – extending and securing Australia's physical and cyber infrastructure, including the extension of wireless broadband services.
  • Health Services – improving the safety, quality and efficiency of health services for all Australians by delivering technology in partnership with all State Health Departments.

The Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI) is also a key platform for facilitating new research projects within the Flagship. The goal of ACBI is to develop and test innovative broadband-enabled services, applications and technologies and their use in real world situations.

Senator the Hon. Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, will officially launch the Flagship with guests from industry, government and innovation sector, at an event in Sydney today. This will also feature a key-note presentation by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, in his first public appearance in Australia in 15 years.


Word cloud of CSIRO's Digital Productivity and Services Flagship.
CSIRO Director of the Digital Productivity and Services Flagship Dr Ian Oppermann. ©  Phil Carrick, CARRICK VISIONS
CSIRO's Digital Productivity and Services Flagship aims to boost Australia's economy by $4 billion per annum by 2025. ©  Phil Carrick, CARRICK VISIONS


Dr Ian Oppermann discusses the launch of the Digital Productivity and Services Flagship.

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