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FAQ: Points of Interest (POI) — Harry Potter: Wizards Unite Community Forum

FAQ: Points of Interest (POI)

LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
in Tips & Tricks #1 latest comment 01 August, 2020, 11:29 pm.

Frequently asked Questions, that this thread will answer:

  • Why are there so few Inns/Greenhouses/Fortresses where I live?
  • What do I need to do to get more Inns/Greenhouses/Fortresses?
  • The place that an Inn/Greenhouse/Fortress was created at, is no longer there, how do I fix that?
  • An Inn/Greenhouse/Fortress is at an incorrect location, how do I fix that?
  • How do I get more Inns/Greenhouses/Fortresses in my Area?
  • Why are the Inns/Greenhouses/Fortresses in such weird places?
  • What side-effects can occur when new Inns/Greenhouses/Fortresses are added or when old ones are removed?


What is a Point of Interest (aka POI)?

Niantic specializes in Augmented Reality Games, games that take part in the "real world" but that enhance the real world by adding new things or by giving additional features to already existing things.

This overlap between the "real world" and the "game world" falls in 3 categories:

  • Stationary, single point
  • Stationary, area
  • non-stationary

The stationary "single point" overlaps are called "Point of Interest" (aka POI). These are objects that exist in the real world but that are given additional features and abilities in the game world. Take Inns for example, in the real world it might be a statue but in the game world it's a building where you can get more Energy.

Stationary "area" overlaps are called "Area of Interest" (AOI). These are places that just like POI, exist in the real world but are given additional features and abilities in the game world. Take "Care of Magical Creatures"-Landmarks for example, in the real world it might be a park but in the game world it's a place where you can find far more Encounters of the Category "Care of Magical Creatures"

What are S2 Cells?

In order to coordinate efforts in the world, a somewhat universal coordination system. And while "GPS" is a nice and very precise measuring system, there are problems and situations that require a systematic approach to "cluster" areas together.

The S2 library defines a framework for decomposing the unit sphere into a hierarchy of cells. Each cell is a quadrilateral bounded by four geodesics. The top level of the hierarchy is obtained by projecting the six faces of a cube onto the unit sphere, and lower levels are obtained by subdividing each cell into four children recursively.

Notice that the cell edges appear to be curved; this is because they are spherical geodesics, i.e., straight lines on the sphere (similar to the routes that airplanes fly).

Each cell in the hierarchy has a level, defined as the number of times the cell has been subdivided (starting with a face cell). Cells levels range from 0 to 30. The smallest cells at level 30 are called leaf cells; there are 6 * 430 of them in total, each about 1cm across on the Earth’s surface.

(source: http://s2geometry.io/devguide/s2cell_hierarchy.html)

How did the current state of the Augmented Reality World of Niantic came to be?

Field Trip

The very first App that Niantic created was called "Field Trip", one of the very few aimed specificly at the Google Glass System.

Field Trip acts as a "virtual tour guide" - using the user's location in order to recommend nearby landmarks and various points of interest, providing information about them ranging from historical tidbits to restaurant reviews. Upon approaching such points of interest, in-app "cards" would pop up with information regarding the location. The application also allows its users to customize the app's features, whether it to adjust the frequency of notifications or to prefer certain types of locations.

(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_Trip_(application))

During that phase, a basic database of "POI" from - as John Hanke himself explained in a CNN-Interview in 2013 - 130 different sources.


Once the database was sufficiently filled with POI, Niantic created a game called Ingress. Without going so much into detail about the gameplay, in the early stages of the game the players themselves could suggest new POI. Additionally, players could submit new Photos to already existing POI, ask for a changed name, description or even location of an already existing POI. Niantic themselves would then review those and then either reject the submission or add it to their database. When the number of Submissions reached a level that Niantic could no longer handle, they quietly ceased to review the submissions.

Later, around 2017 or 2018, Niantic redesigned that review-system and came up with reasonably-clearly defined rules for what a "good" (and therefore acceptable) POI is and what a "bad" (and therefore rejectable) POI is. Most of these rules are in the area of the players themselves, there are however also rules that Niantic themselves enforce.

According the these rules, a good POI is:

  • A place with a cool story, a place in history of educational value
    • Interesting Story behind the Location/Object
    • Signboards with educational Information
    • Historic Significance (apart from just being old)
  • A cool piece of art or unique architecture
    • Statues, paintings, mosaiks, light instalations, etc
    • Venues that showcase fine art (e.g., performance art theaters and museums)
    • Buildings designed by renowned architects/structures famous specifically for their architecture
  • A hidden gem or hyper-local spot
    • A popular local spot that you would take a friend visiting your community for the first time
    • A popular spot where locals gather, but maybe be lesser-known outside of the community
    • Tourist spots that showcase local flavor and culture and that make your city/neighborhood unique
    • More off-the-beaten-path tourist attractions (i.e. if you weren’t a local, you wouldn’t necessarily know to go here)
  • Adventurous tourist attractions - think lookout towers, observatories, signs or markers atop mountain peaks, etc.
  • Public parks
    • Public parks are great, high-quality places for POI: they are common all around the world and encourage players to walk, exercise and enjoy public spaes
  • Public libraries
    • A nod to education and discovery, cornerstones of Niantic and Ingress
    • Includes little free libraries, provided they are not on private residential property; does not include mobile libraries
  • Public places of worship
    • A nod to the otherworldly, which is integral to the story of Ingress
  • Transit stations
    • A nod to the transportation industry, which also connects and unites people around the world
    • Transportation hubs (like Grand Central Station); but not every single small transit stop (like a subway station or bus stop)

Low quality candidates or explicitly blacklisted Objects are:

  • Candidates on the Ground of primary/secondary schools (K12-Schools)
  • Candidates on Private, single-family residential property (including farms) - gated communities however are fine
  • Candidates that obstruct the driveway of emergency services and may interfere with the operation of
    • Fire stations
    • Police Stations
    • Hospitals
    • Military bases
    • Industrial sites
    • Power plants
    • air traffic control towers
  • Candidates that are not permanent, including seasonal displays that are only put up during certain times of the year
  • Candidates that are natural features (Includes pictures of landscapes as well as submissions where the subject is a lake, river, stream, mountain, volcano, waterfall, etc.; photos that include man-made points of interest - plaques, signs, etc. - near natural features are acceptable)
  • Candidates with pictures of people that can be recognized, pictures that are from a third party source (shows a watermark) or are low-quality (pitch-black, blurry, through dirty glass)

(source: https://opr.ingress.com/help)

Rules that Niantic themselves enforce are centered around "POI"-density. Except for very old POI, new ones need to have a certain minimum distance and additionally, the number of POI that are allowed in a given S2-Cell is limited (only 1 POI per L19 S2 Cell, if my memory serves me correctly).

Niantic has dubbed this new Review-System "Operation Portal Recon" (aka OPR). It can be used by Ingress-Players of Level 12 that have successfully completed a test to check that they understand aforementioned rules.

In 2018/2019, Niantic has also moved the "Edit"-Submissions to OPR - these include changes of Name, Location and Description.

Pokemon Go

When Niantic released the Game Pokemon GO in 2016, there was an unbelievably huge increase in popularity. People started to take notice and the sheer mass of people that suddenly moved around following the directions of their smartphone started to annoy and offend a lot of people.

Especially Churches, Cemetaries and Historic sites connected to war-attrocities have asked Niantic to help - and Niantic responded by removing the corresponding POI.

This has also led to Raids in Gym's (a special type of POI in PoGO) to be shut down at night to ensure that players don't violate the peace of nearby residents.

In 2019, Niantic also allowed Pokemon-Players who had reached the maximum Level of 40 to submit new POI.

What's also interesting is that Pokemon GO has 2 different types of POI:

  • Gyms - competitive aspects of the game, as they can be conquered for a faction (similar to Fortresses)
  • Pokestops - regular sources of Items (similar to Inns)

Pokemon GO has more restrictive rules when it comes to POI - only 1 per Level 17 S2 Cell (where Ingress is at 1 per L19 S2 Cell). Gyms are determined by Level 14 Cells:

  • 1 POI is always a Pokestop
  • 2-5 POI means, that one of them is a gym
  • 6-19 POI means that two of them are gyms
  • 20-34 POI means that three of the are gyms
  • 35-64 POI means that four of them are gyms

There are more rules to this but they might not be that interesting/important for WU.

Wizards Unite

Released in 2019, the game is the first of Niantic's games (so far) without PVP. It also has it's POI-Density rules closer to Ingress than Pokemon - meaning more POI than Pokemon but fewer than Ingress.

What's interesting and noteworthy however is that the type of Inn is determined by Level 15 Cells. That means that once new POI are added or once POI are removed, the given Inn-Type of a specific Cell might change.


  • POI have come initially from Frieldtrip and then new ones were submitted by Ingress Players of Level 10+. Recently PokemonGO players (L40) were allowed to submit.
  • POI Submissions have originally been reviewed by Niantic but are nowadays reviewed by Ingress-Players (L12+, restrictions apply).
  • POI can be "reported" (submitted for deletion) & "edited" (location, name, description, photo) by Ingress Players of all levels. Reports are reviewed by Niantic, edits are - for the most part - reviewed by Ingress Players.
  • The Type of a POI is determined by the density of POI in a given Level 15 S2 Cell
  • There are very specific rules for what an appropriate POI is and what isn't.


  • lupinellalupinella Posts: 7 ✭✭
    #209 August, 2019, 02:10 pm.

    Thank you for this. I was looking for a way to reach out to Niantic to see about changing the designation of a local spot from a fortress to anything else. (For context, it is a memorial to the victims and survivors of a violent attack.) Hoping this is the correct route.

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #309 August, 2019, 02:14 pm.

    @lupinella That sounds like the correct way. But don't be surprised if the POI is removed completely.

  • ZookiTabookiZookiTabooki Posts: 637 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #413 August, 2019, 02:08 pm.

    Thank you, very informative.

  • DubiousAffairsDubiousAffairs Posts: 235 ✭✭✭
    #513 August, 2019, 04:09 pm.

    One thing I do not see on the "what makes a good/bad POI" list would be "freely accessible".

    I have seen the problem with (I believe) 4 inns around a local abbey. It is only a monument these days, no religious activities take place there. The grounds are extensive, and there are some spots which seem to have become Inns.

    However, between the listing of those spots -most likely by an Ingress player- and now, access to the grounds has changed. You now have to pay to visit. The grounds are walled-off, and surrounded by fields. So you can't even cheat and try to get near.

    I believe that those inns should be removed, but as someone who isn't an Ingress player or a Pokemon Go player, so far I don't think there's anything I can do.

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #613 August, 2019, 05:11 pm.

    @DubiousAffairs You're correct in that observation. Niantic doesn't discriminate regarding whether a given POI or AOI can only be accessed by a restricted number of people (eg. Gated Communities, people who bought a ticket, employees of a company, members of the army).

    The only limitation that they DID establish is that of "private single-family residential property". The explanation was, that a single family could effectively restrict access to a POI.

  • MtPolluxMtPollux Posts: 747 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #714 August, 2019, 02:44 am.

    @DubiousAffairs Ingress portals (and so POIs in PoGo and WU) need to be accessible to the public, bit not to everyone or all of the time. POIs in theme parks and museums (where you need to pay admission) are okay, as are those not available 24 hours per day (in a park that closes for the night) or year round (on an island which is only reachable by ferry in the summer). There has been a great deal of debate over these standards among Ingress players, but in the end these are the standards that Niantic has established and stood by.

  • RealgexRealgex Posts: 5
    #827 August, 2019, 08:13 pm.

    So, I must have level 12, after I acess this link (opr ingress above), to create a POI ?

    And the test ?

    Besides that, should be approved by Niantic ?

    Alright ?

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #927 August, 2019, 08:17 pm.

    @Realgex No.

    To submit a new Place as POI, you need to EITHER be Level 10 in Ingress OR Level 40 in Pokemon GO. There is no test required to submit new POI.

    If you want to review the submissions by other players, you need to be Level 12 in Ingress and do the test here: https://opr.ingress.com/

  • RealgexRealgex Posts: 5
    #1027 August, 2019, 08:24 pm.

    Thanks Lucoire. But, when i arrive level 12 (my level is 9), the process is that, acess opr ingress, or not ? I ask about creat POI because where I live don´t have any POI, and I already saw a lot of POIs no sense in many places, for this my desire in create POI (specially near my house ****).

  • RealgexRealgex Posts: 5
    #1127 August, 2019, 08:24 pm.

    Thanks Lucoire. But, when i arrive level 12 (my level is 9), the process is that, acess opr ingress, or not ? I ask about creat POI because where I live don´t any POI, and I already saw a lot of POIs no sense in many places, for this my desire in create POI (specially near my house ****).

  • RealgexRealgex Posts: 5
    #1228 August, 2019, 01:38 pm.

    Sorry @Lucoire , level 10, but level 10 in other game, in this Ingress, not in the Harry Potter, alright ?

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #1328 August, 2019, 02:52 pm.

    @Realgex Correct, Ingress is a different game than Harry Potter.

    In Harry Potter, you can't create new POI. If you create a new POI in Ingress, it will probably become a POI in Harry Potter too.

    To do that, you need to download "Ingress Prime" and play it until you reach Level 10 in that game.

  • DigitalisDigitalis Posts: 189 ✭✭✭
    #1402 September, 2019, 10:52 am.

    ...and just because you submit a thing, does not mean it will be approved.

    the further out into nowhere you are, the longer it will take. i have had over 20 submits in my tiny town since before harry potter launched, still waiting on them.

    if there are no other players in the area to review your submissions, there will be a long...long time before a decision is made on them.

    I will probably have moved before these submits go live.

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #1511 October, 2019, 12:16 pm.

    Operation Portal Recon has recently been re-launched as

    Additionally, Niantic has teased that in the near future, Players of other games (like Pokemon GO and possibly even Wizards Unite) might be invited and permitted to review POI submissions.

  • LeFayeofAlbionLeFayeofAlbion Posts: 517 ✭✭✭✭
    #1628 October, 2019, 11:43 pm.

    @Lucoire is there a strategy/factor/condition/control on whether a POI becomes an inn or a fortress or a greenhouse?

    I’d love to learn more about the behind the scenes of how all the locations and cells work. Where can I learn that?

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited October 2019 #1729 October, 2019, 06:21 am.

    @LeFayeofAlbion There surely is a logic to said distribution but so far I've mostly heard and read theories, nothing confirmed.

    If you want to search for those, Reddit is a pretty good place to start.

    What is known is that within a given Level-15 S2-Cell, all Inns are of the same type. This leads to the assumption that the type of Inn is determined by the number of Waypoints within that Cell. Further has it been assumed that - similarly to Pokestop/Gym in PoGO - the ratio between Inn, Greenhouse and Fortress is somewhat predetermined - but there have also been examples of where that assumption seems to be wrong.

    To give you a few examples from my hood:

    • 3 Waypoints in a L15-Cell: 2 Inn (blue roof), 1 Greenhouse
    • 4 Waypoints in a L15-Cell: 3 Inn (blue roof), 1 Greenhouse
    • 6 Waypoints (and 1 Landmark) in a L15-Cell: 1 Fortress, 4 Inn (blue roof), 1 Greenhouse
    • 6 Waypoints (and 2 Landmarks): 1 Fortress, 5 Inn (blue roof)
    • 7 Waypoints in a L15-Cell: 1 Fortress, 4 Inn (blue roof), 2 Greenhouse
    • 7 Waypoints (and 1 Landmark) in a L15-Cell: 1 Fortress, 5 Inn (blue roof), 1 Greenhouse
    • 9 Waypoints (and 1 Landmark) in a L15-Cell: 9 Inn (green roof)

    But aside from that, I'm not aware of any logic as to why which Waypoint is of which type - but maybe the Internet knows.

  • Docstar7Docstar7 Posts: 6 ✭✭
    #1815 November, 2019, 09:59 pm.

    I can't seem to find an answer anywhere, so I'll try here. Any idea when POI sync into the game?

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #1916 November, 2019, 03:35 pm.


    • Once they're accepted, they're in Ingress immidiately.
    • If they fall into the "S2-Cell-Rules" of Pokemon GO, they should appear ingame within 24h of the Ingress-Appearance
    • If they fall into the "S2-Cell-Rules" of Wizards Unite, they should appear ingame within 36h of the Ingress-Appearance

    Unfortunately I don't have a source for that. But based on my own observations, this seems to be roughly when the sync happens

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #2028 January, 2020, 04:02 pm.


    • Submissions are currently only available to Players of INGRESS
    • Access to Wayfarer (the tool to vote over submissions) is still open to players of INGRESS and POKEMON-GO
  • sup3rfmsup3rfm Posts: 20 ✭✭
    #2106 February, 2020, 12:34 pm.

    Thanks for the useful post. I feel that at this moment HP:WU is being hurt due to constant edits to existing Wayspots. I have reviwed over 30,000 wayspots and the current amount of edits is overwhelming. As a consequence, I have seen Wayspots that are Fortresses in HP:WU being moved around to new locations and end up being transformed into inns or greenhouses(!). And, to make it worse, no other Fortress is showing on that L15 cell.

    I'll do a post about this as soon as I'm able to post links.

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #2306 February, 2020, 02:45 pm.

    @sup3rfm I see. What I do not see is the "expected behavior".

    In most cases, a bug is obvious when the "actual behavior" violates one of the Software-Quality Criteria (see IEEE Std 610.12-1990) - especially "robustness" is one of those "obvious" ones.

    But this is not one of those cases. So, what did you expect?

    • Did you expect a 1:2:8 relation of Fortress / Greenhouse / Inn (those numbers are arbitrary guesses)? -> aka "check the type-distribution algorythm"
    • Did you expect Waypoints to be more thoroughly verified in terms of being actually at the location that their corresponding object is located at (and therefore the density being lower than it currently is due to the density of "actual" objects being lower than it is)? -> aka "remove fake portals"
  • KeybounceKeybounce Posts: 462 ✭✭✭
    #2407 February, 2020, 02:21 am.
    • Transportation hubs (like Grand Central Station); but not every single small transit stop (like a subway station or bus stop)

    Hmm. I wasn't aware that post offices were considered transport hubs.

    Is Niantic thinking of Grand Central Terminal?

    Or have I gotten things mixed up?

  • KeybounceKeybounce Posts: 462 ✭✭✭
    #2507 February, 2020, 02:30 am.
    • Access to Wayfarer (the tool to vote over submissions) is still open to players of INGRESS and POKEMON-GO

    the further out into nowhere you are, the longer it will take. i have had over 20 submits in my tiny town since before harry potter launched, still waiting on them.

    if there are no other players in the area to review your submissions, there will be a long...long time before a decision is made on them.

    Does voting/reviewing require the reviewers to be local to / verify the PoI?


    What is the procedure for modifying the PoI's? One local park has PoI's for a bench with a memorial, a second bench that has a memorial but not a PoI, and several trees/stumps with carvings in them. Some of those trees and stumps have died or been removed, so I'd be interested in moving PoI's to the other memorials and carvings around.

    The local library has moved, and the current location is not a PoI nor is any PoI nearby.

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited February 2020 #2607 February, 2020, 09:21 am.

    Hmm. I wasn't aware that post offices were considered transport hubs.

    Both Post Offices and Transit Hubs are considered "good POI" as they're means to connect people. As for "Grand Central Station/Terminal", you'd have to ask Niantic that question.

    Does voting/reviewing require the reviewers to be local to / verify the PoI?

    No. In Wayfarer you can chose up to 2 locations that you want to review PoI submissions of. These "review locations" do NOT need to be near where the Reviewer is - or even near each other. An US-American Reviewer could chose one of these locations near where he lives and another one in (for example) South-Africa, that would be possible.

    What is the procedure for modifying the PoI's?

    There are 2 general ways of approach:

    1. Editing a location in Ingress (does NOT have any requirement aside from having an account, can be done at level 1)
    2. Requesting an Edit via an external source.

    I can't say much about option 2 as I've never used it but as far as I know, it was installed as a result of legal complaints.

    As for option 1, you just tap on the POI in the Ingress App, tap on the photo and then on the "..." button in the top-right corner. There you can chose what you want to edit:

    • "Edit title" -> change the Name of the POI
    • "Add Photo" -> you can use a photo from the storage of your phone OR take one with your camera app
    • "Edit Location" -> place a marker on the Map for a new location
    • "Add / Edit Location"
    • "Report Invalid Portal" - Reasons include:
      • No Pedestrian Access
      • Obstructs or interferes with Emergency Services
      • Private Residential Property
      • School (up to K-12)
      • Permanently removed from this location
      • Duplicate of another Portal

    All "Report Invalid Portal" and all "Add Photo" Submissions are handled by Niantic.

    The Edits of "Title", "Description" and "Location" are handled via Wayfarer (reviewed by Players)

    In case of a Library being moved to a different building, it is probably best to report the old POI as "Permanently removed from this location" and then Submit a new POI at the new location.

    If that isn't possible due to level restrictions, you can try to adjust it via "edit location" - but the chances are slim. If you do and it is rejected, you could try to appeal the situation - making Niantic have a 2nd look at the situation. To appeal, go to the "Appeal"-Section of the Ingress Forum and create a post there.

    Post edited by Lucoire on
  • KeybounceKeybounce Posts: 462 ✭✭✭
    #2710 February, 2020, 12:45 am.

    Well, the good news on the Library at least: Someone else got the location updated. So there is at least one submit-level player in town somewhere.

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #2810 February, 2020, 06:34 am.

    So there is at least one submit-level player in town somewhere.

    Again, misconception. To change the Location of a PoI doesn't have any level restriction. You could do that at LEVEL ONE.

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #2911 February, 2020, 01:39 pm.

    @Keybounce It seems I have to correct myself.

    Apparently there is a restriction to modification of Waypoints:

    • INGRESS Level 8 for Modification of TITLE, PHOTO, DESCRIPTION
    • INGRESS Level 12 for Modification of LOCATION


  • OwlxOwlx Posts: 1,023 ✭✭✭✭✭
    #3022 March, 2020, 10:45 pm.

    @Kiheihol read post #1 this is all about how to add POI

  • LucoireLucoire Posts: 1,244 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2020 #3109 June, 2020, 01:04 pm.


    Wayfarer (the Submission-Review-Tool) is now available to:

    • Ingress-Players of Level 10 (and up)
    • PokemonGO-Players of Level 38 (and up)


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