As soon you surf the internet about finding a certain place, you are likely to encounter the expression POI, which stands for Point of Interest or Place of Interest. Likewise if you own a navigation or GPS system for your car, you will probably find the expression POI somewhere in the menu of the device.
To find out what constitutes a point or place of interest, let's first check Wikipedia:
"A point of interest, or POI, is a specific point location that someone may find useful or interesting."
Another definition from the OpenStreetMap Wiki:
"A point of interest (POI for short) is a term used in cartography (and therefore in reference to maps or geodatasets) for the choice to represent a particular feature using an icon that occupies a particular point. The idea is that, as opposed to linear features like roads or areas of landuse, some features might be suited to being indicated as a point in a particular context."
While these definitions may sound sound a bit academic, practically speaking a POI is a place on this planet that anyone may need at any given time - like a public toilet, a letter box, a restaurant, a tourist attraction, a parking space for a camping car, a hotel etc.. You name it.
If you are looking for something, this place is of interest to you right now. If you are looking for a certain kind of place, this is a place or point of interest to you.
There are many databases for points of interest on the internet. While most of them are run by commercial companies or have a commercial background (like Google Places, TripAdvisor or PoiBase), there is also one enormously large, central and free worldwide database of POIs that is continuously updated by volunteers: OpenStreetMap.
A good entry point is the project page of TagInfo. Here you can find a list of projects that use OpenStreetMap to display points of interest. Often these projects present a map on the web. If you zoom in far enough into the map, you can see the POIs that can be found in that section. One examples is the XmasMap.
Another possibility is to use a universal POI-Finder app like AnyFinder. This app allows you to search for POIs around you or on the part of the world map that you select. AnyFinder currently support more than 100 kinds of POIs, and more are added each month. All POIs are queried in real time from the OpenStreetMap database. So if someone adds an interesting place to OpenStreetMap, it will show up in AnyFinder within minutes.
If you want to add a new POI to OpenStreetMap, you can create a user account on openstreetmap.org and add POIs using the editor on the website. As the learning curve for this is a bit steep, the community created the On OpenStreetMap-Tool which allows you to add you business to the map much more easily.
If you are a professional like a doctor, lawyer or business owner and do not want to spend time to understand the technical details of OpenStreetMap (like the differences between nodes, ways and relations), you can also use our personalized service to add your business to OpenStreetMap. Just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we are happy to send you a quote.