Military security concerns raised over Strava fitness tracking app's Global Heat Map

Posted at 1:12 PM, Jan 29, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-29 16:12:59-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Concerns are being raised after it was discovered that a fitness tracking app can pinpoint the location of U.S. military bases and the activity of servicemembers.

Strava's Global Heat Map highlights running routes and areas of exercise activity that are shared by app users and subscribers, but experts have found that U.S. military bases can be easily located on the map and patterns of servicemembers' activities on bases are displayed.

Strava says the Global Heat Map is not running in real-time, but it has recorded "1 billion activities" between 2015 and September 2017. It was published online in November 2017.

According to the Associated Press, the map shows a great deal of activity in the U.S. and Europe. But in war zones and deserts in countries such as Iraq and Syria, the heat map becomes almost entirely dark -- except for scattered evidence of activity.

A closer look at those areas brings into focus the locations and outlines of well-known U.S. military bases, as well as other lesser-known and potentially sensitive sites -- possibly because American soldiers and other personnel are using fitness trackers as they move around, the AP reported.

A look at the San Diego region on the Global Heat Map shows six military bases listed on the map: Naval Base San Diego, NAS North Island, Naval Base Point Loma, MCAS Miramar, Marine Corps Recruit Depot and Camp Pendleton.


The base locations and their respective property lines are highlighted. Some activity appears within the base property lines.

Department of Defense spokeswoman Maj. Audricia Harris told the AP: "DoD takes matters like these very seriously and is reviewing the situation to determine if any additional training or guidance is required, and if any additional policy must be developed to ensure the continued safety of DoD personnel at home and abroad."

The Verge reached out to Strava, and a spokesperson told the publication that they are "committed to helping people better understand our privacy settings." The spokesperson also said the map "represents an aggregated and anonymized view of over a billion activities uploaded to our platform. It excludes activities that have been marked as private and user-defined privacy zones."