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.