Talk about just a bit of a hiccup, huh? While we all love using GPS-tracking on Google Maps or some similar technology to tell us about our workout progress, when American soldiers who are stationed at a secret military base use it, it isn't exactly a good thing. Unfortunately, that's what happened when a company called Strava Labs recently released its Global Heat Map, which is supposed to be a cool way to show when people are exercising around the world. Included in that map? You guessed it, American soldiers.
Strava Labs, who make the GPS-tracking tech in things like Fitbits and other workout gear, accidentally gave intel on where some U.S. military were based thanks to its aforementioned Global Heat Map. While there are dark patterns in places all around the United States, there are several spots around the world just as dark and active — like Afghanistan or Syria — which are where U.S. troops might be based. Here's a look at the GPS-tracking map that Strava released to see for yourself.
According to Gizmodo, these hot spots on the map are the workout patterns of those soldiers. Once again, oops!
It’s clear from the pink paths that those people were, perhaps, running laps around an airfield in Somalia, a country where the US is sending more and more troops these days. But it’s not just Somalia. Online sleuths have discovered potentially sensitive US military sites in Afghanistan and Syria, along with sensitive Russian military sites in Ukraine, and a secret missile site in Taiwan. Make that formerly secret.
And, as if showing the entire world — including potential enemies — where these U.S. troops may be hiding, the map gained even more exposure as the story spread. Here's what former military analyst, Nathan Ruser, tweeted a few days ago, per Popular Mechanics.
This may seem like a harmless mistake, but, let's face it, anytime we're dealing with military personnel and hidden bases, it's hardly a laughing matter. That's why, in a statement from its CEO James Quarles, Strava Labs said it would cooperate with government officials to try and resolve the problem.
In a separate Guardian article mentions just how sensitive the military information really is.
When applied to military bases, that information can be extremely sensitive. The leaderboard for one 600m stretch outside an airbase in Afghanistan, for instance, reveals the full names of more than 50 service members who were stationed there, and the date they ran that stretch. One of the runners set his personal best on 20 January this year, meaning he is almost certainly still stationed there.
Well, great! Here we are, worrying about how to protect ourselves from things like nuclear bombs, yet, because of GPS-tracking on Google Maps or something, we could be in the most danger. Thanks a lot, technology.
Lead image via Getty.