A data visualization map created by Strava based on users of its fitness app can be used to locate secret military bases. The bases, which are not on Google Maps, light up on the heatmap.
The heatmap was put online by Strava in November 2017 and shows the activity of users of its fitness app worldwide, but last weekend internet users were able to use the map to determine the locations of numerous military complexes. Defense personnel worldwide appear to use the app while jogging, apparently not realizing that they are revealing their routes. The app is for activity route sharing and the company advertises its service as The Social Network for Athletes.
“It looks nice, but it’s not great from an op-sec point of view”, Nathan Ruser . reported, from the United Conflict Analysts Institute. He gives several examples of US bases and routes in Turkey and Russia attributable to military personnel.
In locations in Syria, Afghanistan and Djibouti, the places where the military are active light up, as the locals probably don’t use the app. Many military complexes are not included in map services such as Google Maps and Apple Maps, at the request of governments. With the Strava view, not only can you find out the locations of barracks, for example, but also those of roads and other paths within those locations.
Strava published the heatmap back in 2015, but updated it in 2017 to show one billion activities performed since September 2017, and three trillion data points, detailing the activities in detail. “Our global heatmap is the largest, richest and most beautiful dataset of its kind. It is a direct representation of Strava’s global network of athletes,” the company wrote.