Data released by fitness app accidentally reveals outlines of secret US military bases 3 years ago

Data released by fitness app accidentally reveals outlines of secret US military bases

"I wonder who's jogging around this abandoned airfield in Somalia."

Someone forgot to turn off their Fitbit.

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Sensitive information about the location of global military bases and spy outposts, as well as their supply and patrol routes, has been revealed by a fitness tracking company.

Strava, an app which allows people to record and share their exercise, published a data visualisation map last year showing all the activity tracked by its users - including soldiers jogging around their military bases.

The map features more than 3 trillion individual GPS data points, essentially every single upload to Strava.

Parkrun Mosul hotspots (Credit: Strava)

 

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But it would appear the only Strava users in some third world countries are foreign military personnel on active service.

As such, their preferred exercise routes stand out brilliantly against the map's vacant dark background, apparently demarcating secret military bases and forward operating positions.

Such locations are evident in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Somalia, Syria and around Mosul in Iraq.

Known UK base RAF Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands is lit up brightly on the heatmap, as are nearby bodies of water Lake Macphee and Gull Island Pond, apparently popular swimming spots with the 1,000 British personnel based there.

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RAF Mount Pleasant on the Falkland Islands (Credit: Strava)

 

Military analysis Tobias Schneider tweeted : “In Syria, known coalition (ie US) bases light up the night.

“Some light markers over known Russian positions, no notable colouring for Iranian bases."

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Zooming in on the larger bases clearly reveals their internal layout, as mapped out by the tracked jogging routes of numerous soldiers.

These bases themselves are not visible on the satellite views of Google Map but can be clearly seen through Strava.

A hotspot of activity in Helmand province, Afghanistan (Credit: Strava)
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Area 51 also records a lone cyclist taking a ride from the base along the west edge of Groom Lake, marked on the heatmap by a thin red line.

When Strava released the heatmap it said: “This update includes six times more data than before – in total 1 billion activities from all Strava data through September 2017. Our global heatmap is the largest, richest, and most beautiful dataset of its kind. It is a direct visualisation of Strava’s global network of athletes.”

A statement issued by the company today said: "Our global heatmap represents an aggregated and anonymised view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform. It excludes activities that have been marked as private and user-defined privacy zones. We are committed to helping people better understand our settings to give them control over what they share. For more information about Strava privacy, please visit our website."