This Heat Map Will Make You Question Your Fitness Tracker #CitizenScience #science #tech #security
There was quite a stir on my Public Lab group today when Scott Eustis shared a link for fitness tracker activity on off-shore oil rigs from Strava Labs Global Heat Map. Scott has an above average interest in all things water since he is involved with protecting the Gulf. He quickly realized that this sort of map would be able to relay interesting data, and later shared outlines of boats. Think about it, if you had to jog in an enclosed area, imagine what the map would look like. In a few minutes someone shared an article from The Washington Post about something more critical that was discovered on the map.
It turns out Strava Labs is used by many with Fitbits, Jawbones and other trackers. Their GPS data point service not only helps you to share your ride or jogging info, but it can also help cities with their planning. However, someone had a different idea of how it might be used according to the post.
Nathan Ruser, who is studying international security and the Middle East, found out about the map from a mapping blog and was inspired to look more closely, he said, after a throwaway comment by his father, who observed that the map offered a snapshot of “where rich white people are” in the world.
“I wondered, does it show U.S. soldiers?” Ruser said, and he immediately zoomed in on Syria. “It sort of lit up like a Christmas tree.”
It isn’t that the heat map revealed secret locations, but what it did reveal is paths taken by soldiers, which can be useful information. Luckily this information is not in real time and it’s only a compilation from the last two years. It should be mentioned that Russian bases were also found on the map, so I’m sure there will be changes soon on how all military personnel use fitness trackers. It also makes me wonder if a new form of misinformation will be to pay people to wear fitness trackers and have them walk specific routes. It’s an interesting dilemma, but it does point to the power of GPS and aerial imagery. I’m sure we will be hearing more about this map in the future, but in the meantime, make sure you check your tracker settings.
We are angry, frustrated, and in pain because of the violence and murder of Black people by the police because of racism. We are in the fight AGAINST RACISM. George Floyd was murdered, his life stolen. The Adafruit teams have specific actions we’ve done, are doing, and will do together as a company and culture. We are asking the Adafruit community to get involved and share what you are doing. The Adafruit teams will not settle for a hash tag, a Tweet, or an icon change. We will work on real change, and that requires real action and real work together. That is what we will do each day, each month, each year – we will hold ourselves accountable and publish our collective efforts, partnerships, activism, donations, openly and publicly. Our blog and social media platforms will be utilized in actionable ways. Join us and the anti-racist efforts working to end police brutality, reform the criminal justice system, and dismantle the many other forms of systemic racism at work in this country, read more @ adafruit.com/blacklivesmatter
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.