Sanya, one of the most famous holiday paradises in South China's Hainan province, is poised to evolve into a hub for the remote sensing industry.
"In the past, remote sensing technologies were applied mainly in monitoring resources, environmental changes and natural disasters. Now, it is time to commercialize remote sensing information to serve more people," said Guo Huadong, a remote sensing expert and a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"Remote sensing, as an important aspect of information technology, should offer services to the general public," Guo said.
The academy's Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth has agreed to construct a remote-sensing industrial park in Sanya in cooperation with the Hainan provincial government. If everything goes smoothly, construction will start in March.
Remote sensing - the use of airborne and spaceborne technologies to detect objects on the land, in the atmosphere or in the oceans - can be put to many uses.
"We can expand the use of remote sensing to the mobile Internet, say, mobile mapping with remote sensing information. But all of this requires the participation of the business sector," said Liu Yongwei, director of the Sanya Institute of Remote Sensing.
When complete, the 20-hectare industrial park will provide space for 30 remote sensing companies.
"A number of companies affiliated to the Chinese Academy of Sciences have shown interest in coming here," Liu said. "If each company generates 100 million yuan ($15.2 million) in production value every year, the output of the whole industry park will be close to 10 percent of Sanya's GDP."
One of the advantages of the remote sensing industrial park is the broad coverage of satellite signals it could receive as part of a nationwide ground station network.
Since the 1980s, the Institute of Remote Sensing and Digital Earth has built three satellite ground stations - in Beijing, the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region and Sanya - which coordinate with each other to oversee 70 percent of the land and sea area in Asia.
In 2017, a ground station under construction in the Arctic is also expected to be completed, which will be linked to the network.
"We have to ensure that we get ahold of enough space information to the furthest extent of our national interests," said Guo. All the information is shared for professional and general use.
"The Chinese Academy of Sciences has produced more than 80 percent of the satellite sensors in China. In the future, I also hope the Sanya industrial park will become a production base for commercial satellites," he said.