SpotterNetwork API - active chasers?

Aug 27, 2009
This might be a longshot but I am playing around with the SpotterNetwork API and I am currently struggling with understanding how to determine if a chaser is "active" or not. The data available is the following:

"report_at": "2021-06-17 11:04:31",
"lat": "39.3040733",
"lon": "-96.6366043",
"elev": null,
"dir": null,
"gps": "0",
"callsign": null,
"email": "christoffer@w*.se",
"phone": "",
"ham": "",
"ham_show": "0",
"freq": "",
"note": "",
"im": "",
"twitter": "stormchasingusa",
"web": "Storm / tornado chasing tours - Compare Prices & Reviews",
"unix": "1623927871",
"first": "Christoffer",
"last": "Bjorkwall",
"marker": "38839"

The "report_at" it seems to be a "ping" that tells if the storm spotter has reported a position or not. I do not have my storm spotter account broadcasting (the above example was manually set) so I am not sure how that works (please enlighten me!).

I would like to determine how to make sure if a Spotter is "active" or not. Just the fact that you have a recent "report_at" timestamp cannot possibly mean that someone is chasing, I checked it yesterday and there were spotters reporting from all over the US (and the world in fact). Or is that the only information to use?

One could use "dir" (travel direction, I assume) to see if the person is in fact driving but as we all know, chasing is not always about driving.

Have anyone of you played around with this API and have some input?

Edit: I guess it all comes down to. When do this automatic "report" to SpotterNetwork happen? Note that this is not a STORM report, but just some sort of "location ping". Do you have to turn it on actively or is more about having the software running on your laptop, and as such broadcasting where you are?
Aug 27, 2009
This is an image of spotters with a recent "report" (at least a few hours old). It can't be that many people chasing ALL over the US, right?

This should also be put into relation with the information here: Spotter Network, where at the same time there are only a handful active chasers. I also don't recall seeing this many active chasers on GRLevel* while chasing either.


John Wetter

SN President
Staff member
Dec 11, 2005
Maple Grove, MN
The report_at is indeed the last time we received report information from people. In my opinion, far too many people leave reporting turned on in RadarScope and so it ends up reporting their location all the time. There are obvious privacy concerns as well as battery use issues, but so far we haven't gotten great compliance on that.
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Aug 27, 2009
Thanks. I didn't realize broadcasting was actually done from RadarScope. This makes me realize that many will broadcast not only the laptop GPS (which is what I thought) but also phone position. This makes it much more difficult to determine if someone is chasing or not. Not too many bring their laptop (turned on) while moving, but many obviously will have their phone on so one cannot determine "Chasing Mode: On" based on movement between reports, as I was hoping.

The actual report_at, is that sent when someone opens the RadarScope app, or is it sending a ping every X minutes as long as RadarApp is active?