Strava’s fitness tracker heatmap reveals more than exercise routes

Jan 28, 2018 @ 9pm ()

A seemingly obvious side effect to a fitness app that uses GPS data to track users progress, Strava’s global heatmap show’s more than just exercise routes.

In November 2017, Strava released their global heatmap which illustrates the popularity of running and biking routes throughout the world. Unfortunately for national security, their maps also may show regular patrol routes at military bases overseas.

Andrew Liptak at The Verge writes,

Nathan Ruser, a member of the Institute for United Conflict Analysts, pointed out on Twitter that it’s easy to look at the map and cross-reference it with the locations of known military installations, or pick out potential installations in combat zones, based on the data from users using the app. He posted several screenshots that he theorized were regular jogging routespatrols, and locations of forward operating bases in Afghanistan.

He goes on to say that the heatmap does not necessarily point out the presence of a military base that isn’t already charted on Google Maps, but it does display the frequency which some paths around a base may be used.

The military is currently looking into “implications of the map.”

Nathan’s tweet: