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SYDNEY, Jan 28 AAP

January 28 2013, 11:55AM

The federal government is launching a new $40 million-a-year research project to try and make the digital economy the key driver of the nation's wealth in post-mining boom Australia.

Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and the national science agency, the CSIRO, will formally launch the project on Tuesday at an event in Sydney attended by the inventor of the internet, Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

Head of the new Digital Productivity and Services Flagship, CSIRO's Dr Ian Oppermann will tell the launch that stalling productivity growth and the end of the mining boom are major threats to the national economy that must be addressed.

By helping business and governments deliver better, faster services and creating new commercial opportunities via the internet the CSIRO hopes to increase productivity and provide a $4 billion-a-year boost to the nation's balance sheet by 2025.

"Australia's economic prospects beyond the current resources boom will deteriorate significantly if the decline in our productivity growth performance is not reversed," Dr Oppermann told AAP ahead of the launch.

"A successful digital economy is essential for Australia's economic growth and to maintain our international standing."

The CSIRO flagship, which is Australia's largest ever publicly-funded digital economy research project, may last for up to 10 years and will primarily focus on ways to improve public and private services.

The services sector currently provides about 80 per cent of Australia's gross domestic product but is among those to have experienced a decline in productivity growth.

"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 said.

The CSIRO is working on the basis that most Australians will have access to high-speed broadband internet.

As part of the project, the agency is already looking at ways to reduce waiting times and identify bottlenecks in Queensland hospitals by developing software predicting how many patients will arrive at emergency departments.

It's also looking at smarter ways of responding to emergencies - such as the floods currently affecting Queensland - by monitoring what's being said on publicly available social media sites.

By Miles Godfrey, AAP Social Media Reporter