Building stable applications to protect the environment

Michael LopezRios is the applications development manager of the environmental protection division within the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (GADNR). Their objective is to monitor and protect Georgia’s air, land, and water resources, ensuring the environment stays healthy for generations to come. 

Michael’s primary responsibility is building and maintaining the internal systems that store and monitor various types of data – from microorganism levels in the water, all the way to the number of bigfoot sightings in a given area. This data is hosted and accessed across several applications, with different developers responsible for each. 

Maintaining uptime is key. Michael and his team knew that Georgian environmentalists needed access to all of the information to protect Georgia’s beautiful ecosystem anytime, anywhere. Raygun helps to support this goal, giving Michael peace of mind that his applications are running smoothly.

There have been colossal shifts in how development teams operate over the past couple of years. Most notably, the shift towards remote work. Without Michael’s team being able to interact face-to-face, visibility was more important than ever.

“The catalyst was the switch to remote work after COVID. That's when we really started messing around and seeing what all we could do with Raygun. Within that short span of a year or so, as a development team, we've improved significantly.”

Faster issue resolution

Raygun has supported GADNR’s shift towards a proactive issue resolution workflow. Through superior visibility and alerting, their team has become a shining example of how code ownership and quality doesn't have to be sacrificed at a government agency.

“Generally the unspoken rule is that the government stays two years behind the normal trend to work out bugs and not get bogged down, because the last thing that we want to do is hinder the work process for internal and external users.”

“Before Raygun, we had a very reactionary stance on issues in our application. We waited for individuals to submit tickets of what was wrong with the application, or if an application went down, let's say it went down at 2:00 PM, we wouldn't know about it until the following morning.” 

GADNR was determined to improve their issue resolution process, and become a model for other government agencies to follow. This meant prioritizing quality, and finding ways to identify and resolve issues faster.

“Once we fully implemented Raygun, we got to the point where we could be more proactive.”

“Now, the developers are able to pay attention to the dashboard, see what they need to fix and fix it without anybody telling them to.”

“Crash Reporting does a good job of catching minor bugs, minor fixes. It's crazy how many of those crashes were caused by minor misses. It would create an issue for us to fix, and we would go ahead and be proactive about it.”

“In Raygun, if an issue is found more than once, it gives you a count. So the lower the count, the more progress has been made. The count of these issues has decreased significantly since we started using Raygun.”

“We've also seen that our unexpected downtime decreased significantly since adopting Raygun because we were able to catch issues before they actually happened.”

The proactive approach to issue resolution has helped GADNR reduce the error count on their applications by up to 98% since adopting Raygun. This means better quality experiences for their users, supporting their ability to protect the environment  by eliminating bugs, crashes, and performance issues. 

“From a development standpoint, Raygun is a fantastic way to go from reactionary to a proactive stance.”

Prioritizing what matters

By correlating the powerful insights surfaced in Crash Reporting with the detailed user diagnostics in Real User Monitoring, GADNR has been able to put their customers at the forefront of their development workflow.

"Real User Monitoring has been able to enrich the user experience."

Raygun has not only helped GADNR take a proactive approach to issue resolution, but product development too.

“There have been occasions where we look at data in Real User Monitoring. We're like, hey, it'd be really nifty if we do this. And then two months later, our customers ask for that specific thing and we're like, oh, okay, we're seeing a trend here. We can act before they actually request it.”

“We've been able to incorporate tools that have helped gather everything into one location. We don't have to worry about one developer keeping an eye out in the ether because Raygun does that for us. And we don't have to have a developer watch the service desk fill up with tickets because Zendesk does that for us. And we all pull it together in GitHub. The process was very manual before, and now it's streamlined.”

"Because we have everything in one location now, that's an easier process as well. So it's not just the development process, it's just resource allocation in general. And I like to attribute the majority of that to Raygun because it has automated so much of what we do.”

Identifying malicious activity

When GADNR first tried Raygun, security wasn’t even on their radar as a potential benefit. 

“Some of our information is sensitive, so we take a strong information security stance, wherever we go. It’s one of the reasons I'm very thankful for Raygun.”

Since adopting Raygun, they’ve found it to be one of the most valuable aspects of the solution. 

“One of the primary things I would recommend Raygun for is cybersecurity.”

“We had one instance where something was brought down unexpectedly and we did not know whether it (the attack) had been successful or not. And our environment host could not tell us.”

“Typically what that requires from cybersecurity at an application development level is that we scan the entire application, all the code, to make sure there's no malicious insertion, no unknown guests that have created their own accounts or whatever the case may be.”

“We wanted to make sure that there was nothing out of the ordinary from the last backup — and not saying that backup is a bad thing to do, because you can just restore the backup if there are any problems. But we want to minimize the process as much as possible in order to ensure that uptime that we value so much.”

“There was an exception for a potentially dangerous request that popped up 144 times, and it was detected and identified as an unsuccessful attempt. So we were able to determine that nothing had been changed.”

“We backed that up before our initial scan and we didn't have to resort to that backup or risk loss of data.”

“We weren't really expecting it to come from Raygun but it came along and saved the day. Raygun is a perfect way to keep track of your security at an application level.”

Raygun is proud to support GADNR in building a more stable and secure product to protect our planet.

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