What is Point of interest (POI)?

Last Update : 04.12.23 • Publication : 29.09.23 • Reading :

A Point of Interest (often abbreviated as “POI”) is a specific point location or place that is notable or interesting in some way, often used as a reference or destination, such as landmarks, businesses, tourist attractions, or other noteworthy sites on a map or in a geographical database.

What is Point of interest (POI) data ?

Point of Interest (POI) data refers to a collection of information about specific locations or places of interest within a geographical area. This data typically includes details about the POI Locations of various types of establishments, landmarks, businesses, and more.

POI is valuable for a wide range of applications, including mapping services, navigation systems, location-based marketing, tourism, urban planning, and geographic analysis. It helps people discover and navigate to specific places, businesses optimize their visibility, and researchers analyze spatial patterns and trends.

Categories and Examples of Points of Interest (POIs)

Points of Interest (POIs) can be categorized into a diverse array of types, each serving different purposes and attracting varied audiences.

Here's a breakdown of some common categories and examples of POIs:

  • Restaurants & Hotels: Noma (Copenhague, Denmark), The Ritz Hotel (London, UK)
  • Parks and Natural Reserves: Plitvice Lakes National Park (Croatia), Amazon Rainforest (Brazil/Peru)
  • Historical Sites: The Roman Colosseum (Rome, Italy), Pyramids of Giza (Egypt), Petra (Jordan)
  • Transport Hubs: Shinjuku Station (Tokyo, Japan), Charles de Gaulle Airport (Paris, France)
  • Retail & Shopping: Galeries Lafayette (Paris, France), Mall of America (Minnesota, USA), Queen Victoria Building (Sydney, Australia)
  • Museums: The Louvre Museum (Paris, France), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, USA).
  • Educational Institutions: University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK), CERN (Geneva, Switzerland), 
  • Healthcare Facilities: Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin (Berlin, Germany)

Making Sense of Point of Interest (POI) : Understanding Attributes and Structure of Location data

Point of Interest (POI) is a valuable resource for businesses, travelers, and researchers alike. Whether you're developing location-based services, planning a trip, or conducting geographic analysis, it's essential to grasp the attributes and structure of POI to make the most of this information.

Key Data Attributes

Point of interest data is structured to provide relevant information about specific locations. Here are some key data attributes commonly associated with POIs:

  • Location Coordinates: The geographical coordinates (latitude and longitude) precisely pinpoint the POI on the Earth's surface. These coordinates are crucial for mapping and navigation.
  • Name and Description: Each POI typically has a name or title, which can provide insights into its identity, purpose, or significance. A description or category may further clarify its nature.
  • Address: Physical addresses, including street names, numbers, postal codes, and locality details, help users locate and reach the POI.
  • Contact Information: Phone numbers, email addresses, and website URLs facilitate communication with businesses or organizations associated with the POI.
  • Operating Hours: This metadata specifies when a particular location is open or accessible to the public. For businesses, it denotes the hours they're operational, while for public spaces, it might indicate the best or permissible times to visit.
  • Photos and Images: Visual representations, such as photos, images, or icons, offer users a preview of the POI. High-quality images can enhance user engagement.
  • Ratings and Reviews: User-generated or professional ratings and reviews provide valuable insights into the quality and popularity of the POI. This information influences user decisions.

Additional Attributes: Depending on the type of POI, additional attributes may include amenities, services, historical background, accessibility details, and more.

Data Structure

Points of Interest Data is typically organized in structured formats, often using geographic information system (GIS) standards. Common data structures include:

  • CSV (Comma-Separated Values): A tabular format where each row represents a POI, and columns correspond to different attributes. CSV files are easy to work with and compatible with many applications.
  • JSON (JavaScript Object Notation): A lightweight data interchange format that organizes data in key-value pairs. JSON is commonly used in web applications and APIs.
  • XML (Extensible Markup Language): A text-based format that uses tags to define data elements and their attributes. XML is versatile and can represent complex data structures.
  • GeoJSON: A format specifically designed for geographic data, GeoJSON stores location information and additional attributes. It's widely used in mapping and spatial applications.

Geospatial Analysis

Geospatial analysis is a way of studying and understanding information related to places on Earth. It involves using maps, data, and computer technology to look at how things are located, how they relate to each other, and how they change over time.

Geospatial analysis helps us make better decisions about things like where to build roads, where to find resources, and how to respond to natural disasters.

With POI at its core, geospatial analysis can be incredibly powerful, unlocking a myriad of insights:

  1. Integration with GIS: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are powerful tools that visualize and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns, and trends. POIs, when integrated with GIS, can offer layers of spatial data, creating intricate and detailed maps tailored to specific uses.
  2. Spatial Relationships: Understanding the proximity of different POIs to each other can be valuable. For instance, assessing how many cafes are close to transport hubs or the clustering of retail stores in a specific district.
  3. Clustering and Density Analysis: This form of analysis evaluates the concentration of specific POIs in an area. For example, density analysis could reveal tourism hotspots in a city or areas with high concentrations of healthcare facilities.
  4. Geofencing and Proximity Analysis: Geofencing involves creating virtual boundaries around a geographical area. With POIs, businesses can send targeted promotions to mobile devices when a user enters a specific radius. Proximity analysis, on the other hand, gauges the distance between a particular point and other POIs, useful for logistics or even emergency response planning.
  5. Trade Area Analysis: Beneficial for businesses, it determines the geographic area from which a majority of customers hail. Combined with other datasets like foot traffic or demographic data, it offers profound insights into customer behavior and preferences.

How to Obtain Point of Interest Data

Government and Public Records

Government sources typically include data from various public entities, featuring locations like public facilities, landmarks, and significant infrastructural points. For example, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) provides a range of geographical data, including POIs in the United States.

Commercial Data Providers

Commercial data providers specialize in collecting, updating, and selling POI datasets. These datasets are usually comprehensive and tailored for business or professional use. Companies like Esri, known for their GIS software, provide a wide range of POI datasets. At Infobel Pro, we also provide POI datasets that cater to a diverse range of needs. Our offerings include detailed data in categories such as Global Places and Social Places

Open Source Platforms

Open-source platforms like OpenStreetMap (OSM) allow community contributions to mapping data, resulting in extensive and frequently updated POI datasets. These platforms are a valuable resource for community-led projects and applications that require dynamic data updates.

Practical Applications and Real-World Examples of POI

Points of interest, once merely markers on a map, have now become critical data points driving numerous applications across diverse sectors.

Here's a snapshot of the myriad ways in which POI is utilized (some of which where Infobel PRO data is used):

  • Navigation & Mapping Services: Navigation systems primarily focus on guiding users between destinations. However, integrating updated POI databases enriches this basic functionality. For instance, while on a route, users can easily find and navigate to nearby gas stations, restaurants, or landmarks. Navigation systems like Google Maps and Waze use POIs

Google maps POI

  • Tourism & Local Guides: Travel apps and websites incorporate POI to suggest tourist attraction, local eateries, and hidden gems, enhancing the travel experience of tourists and adventurers. Application such as TripAdvisor and Yelp incorporate POIs.
  • Market Research & Business Decisions: Businesses analyze the distribution and types of POIs in an area to decide where to open a new outlet, understand market saturation, or gauge potential competition.
  • Urban Planning & Infrastructure Development: City planners use Interest Point to determine the placement of public amenities, understand population density zones, or even strategize public transport routes.
  • Emergency Services & Disaster Response: Quick and effective responses hinge on accurate location data. POI aids emergency services in locating affected areas, evacuation centers, or even potential hazards.
  • Retail & Marketing Strategies: Retailers tap into POI to analyze foot traffic, strategize on store locations, or even drive targeted marketing campaigns based on nearby interests.

Challenges & Ethical Considerations

POI collection offers numerous advantages but also raises concerns. Data privacy and user consent are primary issues. As devices relay location data, it's vital to anonymize user information and provide opt-out choices.

Misinformation and biased representation in POIs can sideline lesser-known but significant spots. Combining points of interest with other datasets, while insightful, demands caution to maintain accuracy.

User-generated content, as seen on platforms like Google Maps, can both democratize and distort data. Lastly, commercial biases in digital maps due to partnerships can affect user trust.


What is interest data in the context of POI?

Interest data, in the realm of POI, refers to data about specific places or locations that are of importance or interest to users. This can include commercial venues, landmarks, public utilities, and more.

How is geospatial data related to POI?

Geospatial data provides the geographical coordinates or locations of places. When it comes to POI, geospatial data ensures that each point of interest is accurately mapped to its precise location on the earth's surface.

Can I integrate a third-party POI database with my application?

Yes, many POI data providers offer APIs or data dumps that allow developers to integrate their databases into other applications. This integration can enhance features like navigation, location-based services, or market analysis in the respective application.


Point of Interest (POI) refers to a collection of information about specific locations or places of interest within a geographical area.

As we explained in this article, businesses, public authorities and any innovative product can benefit from using accurate Point of Interest. It helps them make better decisions and improve their operations.

Point of Interest, as we've discussed in this article, is a treasure trove of information about specific places that pique our interest in a particular area. It's not just about knowing where things are; it's about tapping into the potential that these locations offer.

For businesses, public authorities, and innovative companies, accurate POI data is a game-changer. It's like having a secret weapon in their arsenal.

Marc Wahba
Author Marc Wahba

Meet Marc, the co-founder and CTO of Infobel. He is in charge of software development. In 1991, he obtained a degree in civil electromechanical engineering from the Polytechnic Faculty and later earned a master's degree in management from the Solvay School of Brussels. Along with his brother, he founded Infobel in 1995, which was the first online directory to offer an online white pages directory. Marc's innovative mindset has led to the launch of new data products and services that have become a global success, serving clients all over the world.