>  I've accidentally come into those POI (Point Of Interest) files for TomTom
> GPS systems which carry a very big amount of informations regarding many
> things laying around the world (restaurants, fuel stations, railroad
> stations, cinemas, schools, hotels ...).
> Those files are easily convertible to plain ASCII text, getting latitude,
> longitude (the height is missing) and a small notation of the POI.
>
> I currently enjoy building real world 3d models (mainly buildings) to put
> into FGFS sceneries, but it takes time :-( and the development of scenery
> files for FGFS need some boost (I think it's very important for VFR flight
> at least) so I think it could be nice to use such POI files in order to
> populate great areas of the world with many shared objects (e.g. so many gas
> stations looks pretty the same from above and those POI files even
> distinguish different brands of gas stations :-) and very few effort.
>
> Did anyone walked this way before?

Not with TomTom POI files that I'm aware of.  There is a *lot* of ongoing
work on getting more ground structures into the FG scenery, however.  Jon 
Stockill and Martin Spott have built a master database for ground scenery 
object locations and shared models to represent them.  Jon's populated the 
database of locations with objects from the UK's CAA obstruction surveys, as 
well as the implied positions of VORs/localizers/etc. from world airports; I've 
added the U.S. FAA's obstruction information (including just about everything 
in the U.S. above 200 feet AGL, and a lot that isn't) and the FCC's database of 
antenna structures.  Lots of us have been making shared models for generic 
objects (e.g. a generic crane, a generic smokestack/chimney, generic 
skyscrapers for buildings that nobody's specifically done yet, etc.), as well 
as models for specific structures/landmarks.  I don't know that an "official" 
release announcement has been made of yet, but go ahead and take a look at:

http://fgfsdb.stockill.org/

Depending on the objects in the POI files, there may be some overlap; but more 
data is always good.


> I am starting to build some 3d models of
> the most common gas stations and hotels around my city.

Please consider contributing them to the database.


> I need a way to get
> the height of some point of a scenery having latitude and longitude only (no
> clue how to do that).

Both Jon and I have written code to do this iteratively for a list of lat/lon 
locations (I think Jon used Perl; I used Python).  Sadly, it requires running 
FlightGear and is slow; but at least it's hands-off.


> I will check if those coordinates used in TomTom files
> are coherent with FGFS format or need some conversion. I will go on looking
> around the internet for finding other interesting POI files (I am currently
> trying to get a detailed map of Wind Energy Farms in my country which could
> be very nice landmarks to put into FGFS :-)

There's a wind turbine model in the database for just this reason; there are 
wind turbine locations in the database, but they could stand some fleshing-out. 
 So this would be good.


> I also noticed that those POI files are generally distributed free with very
> relaxed licenses.

But this is the crux of the biscuit.  What, specifically, is the license?  
"Very relaxed" isn't detailed enough to say whether it's compatible with the 
GPL, and thus can/cannot be distributed with FlightGear.  It's likely that the 
POI files themselves cannot be distributed with FG.

*HOWEVER*, it's generally the case that copyright law indicates that one can 
copyright the presentation of a set of facts, but cannot copyright the facts 
themselves.  Thus, you're violating Encyclopedia Britannica's copyright if you  
photocopy and distribute one of their volumes; but you aren't violating their 
copyright if you write your own volume in your own words that nonetheless 
contains all the information/facts contained in that Encyclopedia Britannica 
volume.  So while it may not be possible to distribute the files, it may be 
possible to distribute the information within the files.

Knowing the license would be helpful here.

Cheers,

-c





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