Roadside bombs remain the number-one threat to U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan. One of the tactics used to stem the tide of roadside bomb-related casualties is called an “honesty trace”. It’s a concept borrowed from a British tactic used to avoid ambushes from the counterinsurgency in Northern Ireland. In a nutshell, standard rally points and natural land features can combine to cause military patrol routes to overlap and create choke points easily identifiable by enemy forces as prime locations for roadside bomb attacks. By keeping a log of their routes, military personnel can identify these choke points as likely locations to sweep for IEDs, set up sniper positions, or simply avoid altogether.
The current procedure for “honesty tracing” involves a manual and time-consuming process of literally duct-taping a Garmin GPS device to a military vehicle before the patrol, collecting route information while en route, then downloading the route info to a laptop afterwards via a USB cable, converting the data to Excel format, and uploading to a central server or importing into FalconView.
The Honesty Trace Android app aims to simplify that process considerably. The app has a simple intuitive interface, used to collect route information via GPS, display the route to the user, and upload the data to a central server with minimal manual interaction.
When the application is started, it presents the user with a screen containing buttons to start, stop, and pause route collection, as well as displays containing the current latitude and longitude of the device. There is also a button to display the route in a Google map on the device, which can be done while the app is still collecting data. In addition, the entire app can be put in the background so that the user can use the device for other activities while en route.
After the route is complete, the data can be uploaded to Geocent’s OpenCOP platform with a single button click. The route can then be viewed via OpenCOP’s map display or exported to almost any other mapping technology format, such as Google Earth.
The app’s main screen and Google Maps view of the route in progress:
A view of the route uploaded to OpenCOP: