PagerDuty Blog

How MBTA modernized incident response to reduce alert fatigue and improve collaboration

Citizens utilize mobile and consumer-facing applications in everyday life, so it’s no surprise that they demand seamless access and high availability of government services online. Whether it’s making payments or applying for benefits, citizens and constituents alike expect these services to be available around the clock.

This expectation has put immense pressure on state, local government, and education institutions to adopt new technologies and processes that provide essential services to constituents. In public service, this pressure is compounded by the constant call to do more with fewer resources.

Looking at trends for state budgets in the United States, it appears that there has already been some healthy investment in improving digital infrastructure. The start of the new fiscal year saw most states direct federal funding on new technologies to drive down costs and improve services for citizens. We’ve seen Virginia invest $700 million USD in broadband infrastructure, while Texas invested $900 million USD to ramp up cybersecurity and upgrade legacy systems.

As further investments in digitalization are made, state and local government agencies must arm their technical teams with the tools they need to transform their IT ecosystem and manage increasing complexity.

Key technical considerations for state and local government

While digital transformation offers potential for government agencies and education institutions to modernize service delivery, migrating workloads to the cloud can introduce additional complexities. This could leave IT teams scrambling to deal with increased alerts and fighting to keep mission-critical services online and maintain a seamless user-experience.

For state and local government agencies, the reality is hybrid. Some services have moved to the cloud, but most agencies face a significant amount of technical debt and struggle to compete in a battle for development talent. Compliance and regulations around spending can also limit technology choice and spend.

Platforms and solutions must be able to bridge hybrid infrastructure, and they also must be easily integrated with a variety of applications and services to support mission-critical operations.

Taming incident management and reducing burnout

PagerDuty Summit 2021 featured Director of Engineering at Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA), Ryan Mahoney, sharing his story on how modernizing his department’s response orchestration process reduced alert fatigue and improved team collaboration.

With PagerDuty, Mahoney transformed engineer burnout and inbox overload to a predictable, shared on-call rotation. Previously, the team at MBTA didn’t have deep insight into incidents within applications, and notifications were emailed to individuals. This meant there wasn’t a comprehensive view of incidents, how long they took to resolve, and whether the team was able to resolve the root cause. There was also a lack of visibility into who was best placed to evaluate an issue.

Since adopting PagerDuty, MBTA now has a modern incident management process that allows the team to monitor all applications in real time. Any issues are now routed to the person on call, while PagerDuty is also enabling MBTA to differentiate automatically between high severity urgent issues and issues that can wait.

Check out Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority’s session, “Hey, Can You Add Me to the On-Call Rotation?”

To learn from more technical leaders like Ryan, visit this channel for free access to the Summit recordings on demand.

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