A point of interest, or POI, is a specific point location that someone may find useful or interesting. An example is a point on the Earth representing the location of the Space Needle, or a point on Mars representing the location of the mountain, Olympus Mons. Most consumers use the term when referring to hotels, campsites, fuel stations or any other categories used in modern (automotive) navigation systems. The term is widely used in cartography, especially in electronic variants including GIS, and GPS navigation software. In this context the synonym waypoint is common. A GPS point of interest specifies, at minimum, the latitude and longitude of the POI, assuming a certain map datum. A name or description for the POI is usually included, and other information such as altitude or a telephone number may also be attached. GPS applications typically use icons to represent different categories of POI on a map graphically.
POI collections Custom speed camera POI overlayed on a BMW navigation map Digital maps for modern GPS devices typically include a basic selection of POI for the map area. However websites exist that specialize in the collection, verification, management and distribution of POI which end-users can load onto their devices to replace or supplement the existing POI. While some of these websites are generic, and will collect and categorize POI for any interest, others are more specialized in a particular category (such as speed cameras) or GPS device (e.g. TomTom/Garmin). End-users also have the ability to create their own custom collections. Commercial POI collections, especially those that ship with digital maps, or that are sold on a subscription basis are usually protected by copyright. However there are also many websites from which royalty-free POI collections can be obtained.
Applications The applications for POI are extensive. As GPS-enabled devices as well as software applications that use digital maps become more available, so too the applications for POI are also expanding. Newer digital cameras for example can automatically tag a photograph using Exif with the GPS location where a picture was taken; these pictures can then be overlaid as POI on a digital map or satellite image such as Google Earth. Geocaching applications are built around POI collections. In Vehicle tracking systems POIs are used to mark destination points and/or offices to that users of GPS tracking software would easily monitor position of vehicles according to POIs.