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Frequently Asked Questions



GPS POI (Points of Interest) Explained

gps points of interest

Going Places Safely

GPS POI refers to Global Positioning Systems and POI when used with GPS means Points of Interest. Restaurants, churches, libraries, gas stations, and anything else that is not a road qualifies as POI. The feature is used when you want to go someplace but don't necessarily know where, such as a restaurant in an unfamiliar city. The application would list available restaurants in your vicinity, and after you select one, it will provide directions.

Preloaded Points of Interest

The GPS device has preloaded points of interest at the time of purchase. The number of points of interest already loaded on a GPS device is not easily accessed information. Garmin for example describes its preloaded points of interest as a "hefty" number and TomTom lists their points of interest as "In the thousands."

The GPS brands not only withhold the number of points of interest that have been preloaded, but the listings of the GPS POI that have been preloaded is not documented. The only disadvantage of downloading already preloaded information is that it takes up room in the memory. An advantage of downloading your own information is that it will be up to date as the preloaded information can be two to three years old.

The GPS companies get their preload information sometimes from services similar to yellow pages or directly from the big companies such as K-Mart or StarBucks. A small percentage of all available points of interest are preloaded, consequently, it is a personal decision to load additional listings in your GPS device.

Why Use Additional Points of Interest

People who carefully plan their trips from hotels to restaurants to activities may not need additional listings of points of interest. It is unlikely that they would need to quickly locate a place by type, such as a hotel. This feature, however offers more than just listing places that offer services.

The locations of those pesky traffic light cameras are a brilliant use. Traffic cameras can detect speeding, running red lights, and now illegal turns and the locations of the traffic lights with cameras are available on custom point of interest lists.

Some points of interest lists can be used when you are not connected to the Internet. GPS mapping software is downloaded to your GPS device and then customized to show points of interest. Hunters, for example, use this tool to locate migration routes.

Custom Points of Interest Lists

Since the selection of important points of interest might be as individual as the person who uses GPS, it's almost a given that custom GPS POI creation is a matter of choice. Interestingly enough, custom lists refers to both points of interest listings already available in a format compatible with various GPS brands as well as lists developed by the individual user.

Various GPS brands require information in compatible formats but most, if not all brands have online websites that assist with the process of downloading your custom points of interest lists. It is even possible for the exchange of points of interests between GPS devices. Free downloads are often provided by the GPS brands to customize your points of interests lists.

Where to Find Additional Points of Interest Lists

Various sites are available to provide points of interest lists for the GPS user.

  • Garmin has free software called POI Loader to assist Garmin owners with the download of lists to their devices. Garmin provides free help in creating your own points of interest lists as an additional service. TomTom has similar services for its customers.
  • Free GPS POI is available from user-generated content sites, which are websites where subscribers contribute information to develop extensive data bases. POI Factory, GPSPassion, GPS Waypoints and GPS Data Team are all such sites which offer the lists in various formats and give support to help you download them to your device.
  • GPS POI US LLC prepares points of interest lists in-house and sells them. The company claims that in-house preparation affords greater controls over accuracy and timeliness of the data.
  • If you wish to create and load your own selected points of interest, a free tool is POI Editor. POI Editor is a simple user-friendly Web application that allows you to create your own points of interest listing. Many formats are available but if you have one that isn't, you simply send it to the site and it will be added to the available formats.

GPS POI simplify travel by not only quickly getting you to the desired location in strange places, but by actually finding those desired locations. It enhances safety through the notification of dangerous intersections when it detects traffic cameras. This technological tool certainly enhances the quality of life experiences, although a backup map might be a good idea too.


  • http://forums.gpsreview.net/viewtopic.php?t=1051
  • http://poi.gps-data-team.com/
  • http://www.gpslodge.com/archives/011339.php
  • http://www.pocketgpsworld.com/tomtompoi.php
  • http://gpstracklog.com/2006/03/custom_pois.html
  • http://www.gps-poi-us.com/myths.html

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