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Add Free GPS POIs

September 27th, 2007

Special feature column from “Add Free GPS POIs” from Steve Bass of PC Magazine’s Tips and Tweaks
“Did you know you could add “Points of Interest” databases to many GPS models? I didn’t (you’re right — I’m not as close to the cutting edge as I thought) — and a neat, new world just opened up on my GPS. My GPS is a Cobra NavOne 4000 (I’ll tell you more about it in an upcoming blog) and my awakening started while I was installing a GPS firmware upgrade. I noticed an option to load “safety camera databases” to the GPS. I had a hunch they had something to do with the “Red Light Picture” warning setting on the GPS, so I Googled it. I discovered two free POI databases — Speed Traps USA and Red Light Cameras — both on the GPS Data Team site. Both POIs supplied locations of speed and red light cameras throughout the United States.

Many GPSes will alert you as you get close to either of these euphemistically named road safety devices. My next discovery was that the GPS Data Team site also had a collection of POIs for 18 other categories, including road safety, shopping, restaurants, and recreation in 32 countries — the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Italy, and others.The grand listing of POIs, though, is at the POI Factory site. Register and you’ll get access to databases with listings for brewpubs, national and state parks, wineries, Whole Food markets, Starbucks, and my favorite coffee spot, Peets. In all, about 1250 POIs. Check them out on an alphabetical list or by category.
You say you discovered a POI that doesn’t match your GPS’s format? That shouldn’t be a big problem. There are online conversion tools that can handle the two most popular formats: CSV to OV2 and OV2 to CSV. Find them on the GPS POI Tools page.
I know I’m probably missing a ton of POI stuff some of you know about. So don’t hesitate — clue me in.”
Source: Steve Bass, PC Magazine, Tips and Tweaks

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