GUIYANG, June 19 (Xinhua) -- Guizhou in southwest China is looking to the big data industry to invigorate its economy.
The mountainous province's per capita GDP stood at 26,414 yuan (4,316 U.S. dollars) in 2014, the least in China and only 57 percent of the national average, despite economic growth of 10.8 percent.
Big data refers to enormous sets of data that cannot be analyzed by traditional means. The data can be used by businesses and governments for a variety of purposes, including analyzing trends and improving services. The government has been actively developing the big data industry since last year, establishing a big data agglomeration which aims to encompass 2 million servers.
On Wednesday in provincial capital Guiyang, President Xi Jinping visited a big data research center where more than 400 enterprises have gathered to develop technology. Xi talked to the heads of companies building Internet hospitals about plans to offer online health services. As China's first big data exchange, the Guiyang center can trade 30 kinds of data.
A moderate climate, a sufficient power supply and good network infrastructure are needed to develop the big data industry and Guizhou ticks all these boxes, said Yao Mingfu, a manager of telecommunications company Huawei.
"The conventional view is that hi-tech industries can only flourish in developed regions, but the big data industry is different," said Zhang Liangjie of Kingdee International Software: "The value of data is no different in developed and underdeveloped regions."
Power is the major cost of big data. A kilowatt hour in Beijing costs one yuan, two and a half times the cost in Guizhou.
"Guizhou is the first province to allow us access to government data," said Zhou Binbin, a strategist with Alibaba Group. Alibaba signed an agreement with Guizhou in April to use the province as its base for the development of cloud computing and big data. Guizhou is now home to data centers for China Mobile, China Unicom and China Telecom, the three largest Chinese telecommunication operators, who intend to invest at least 15 billion yuan in the province.
At the beginning of this year, Guizhou had over 1,700 big-data-related enterprises, around 500 more than in 2013. The government wants to see a 200 billion yuan big data industry in Guiyang by 2020.
The central government requires Guizhou to protect its environment and develop at the same time, said Ma Ningyu, deputy head of the Guizhou provincial commission for information technology.
"Big data is a green industry and also an emerging industry," said Ma, "It fits in with the situation in Guizhou and is a natural choice for us."