Trek Medics increases ability to respond to emergency incidents 9x

Business Challenge
Company Size

Every second counts in an emergency and the technology used by emergency services and dispatchers can make the difference between success and disaster.

In 2010, a small group of emergency medics and technologists recognized the need for a new emergency dispatch solution for vulnerable and underserved communities globally. Trek Medics International recognized a critical gap—while most emergency responders around the world carried a mobile phone, response agencies lacked mobile-first communications technologies.

Trek Medics’ Beacon platform works by tracking emergency responders and coordinating alerts and responses using their mobile devices, regardless of whether the devices are connected to the internet. Trek Medics maintains both an Angular-based web application, as well as a mobile application using Flutter. In addition to Javascript and Typescript, the team also uses Ruby for programming. For the Beacon platform, speed and reliability are absolutely essential. Through New Relic, Trek Medics deployed New Relic application performance monitoring (APM), logs, distributed tracing, and AIOps.

Scaling support for new emergency services customers while maintaining reliability

Trek Medics aims to reach as many emergency services as possible in some of the world’s most underserved areas. Yet each new customer brought new logistical and technology challenges. Trek Medics needed to quickly identify the root cause of incidents and implement fixes, but emergency services in locations such as Tanzania and Haiti had limited technologies. This meant that the team could never be sure whether the issue was with Beacon or with the local infrastructure.

This complexity and lack of visibility prevented Trek Medics’ engineers from developing new features that could amplify the nonprofit’s global impact. In the early years of Beacon, the organization’s engineers would have to take a “guess and check” approach to incident response. As a result, the team often discovered that the issues they were addressing weren’t as impactful as they first thought. Trek Medics began leaning on New Relic to transition from educated guesses to pinpointed responses guided by real-time data.

Emergency response never takes a day off, and the organization’s global customer base means that Beacon needs to operate reliably 24/7, 365 days per year. New Relic plays a key role as the Trek Medics team works to decrease alert noise in their tech stack and quickly identify the sources of latencies and downtime.

increase in ability to respond to emergencies per year
increase in number of mobile devices supported
increase in number of countries supported

New Relic has enabled us to identify problems very quickly and pinpoint when problems aren’t coming from our technology. We work with a program in Haiti that was experiencing troubles in their call center. After digging deeper into the situation with New Relic, we were able to confirm that all systems were functioning correctly on our end and that the problem must’ve been originating on their side. It turned out the issue was with the local telecom infrastructure.

Shifting the engineering team from reactive to proactive

Trek Medics deployed New Relic application performance monitoring (APM) to dissect incidents on production servers and identify the fastest fix. When an incident takes place, the team looks at web transactions and database queries around the time of the issue. Analyzing these data points allows the team to resolve the incident, while also identifying problematic endpoints within the application to optimize for better performance.

Recognizing the need for 24/7 visibility on their production servers, the Trek Medics team configured alerts across both APM and browser applications, while also taking advantage of integrations with Slack and other tools using alerts. The team also uses logs in context together with APM in order to uncover the root causes of nagging technical issues. New Relic also enables the Trek Medics team to track data ingest by setting up a dashboard and alerts for data governance. 

The ability to combine both mobile and browser monitoring was essential for Trek Medics, as emergency response services manage their systems on browsers while coordinating a broad network of mobile devices. The Trek Medics team balanced their monitoring efforts between a high-level view of the system and more granular insights into traces and events across the system’s many components. The New Relic infrastructure agent provided recommendations on how to address coverage gaps across services, applications, and log sources, resulting in improved performance throughout the stack.

Most importantly, observability allows Trek Medics to have a proactive approach to investing resources to improve system performance. New Relic APM has allowed the engineering team to refactor large parts of their code and add endpoints with each new version. The team has also used the insights from New Relic to inform updates to their front end. The result is a better user experience for every Trek Medics customer—from those who use the system regularly to those who only deploy it in a serious disaster.

New Relic makes us so much more aware and certain regarding how the multiple components of Beacon are performing. That translates into more confidence for us to pursue larger and more sophisticated users. New Relic has become indispensable for the team—we have 100% visibility on everything that is taking place on the system.

9X increase in emergency incidents dispatched and ambitions for further growth

The positive impact of Trek Medics and New Relic can be seen in every dispatch. Since adopting New Relic APM and other observability tools, Trek Medics has achieved a 9-time increase in the number of emergency incidents dispatched—to put it more clearly, New Relic allows Trek Medics to achieve a ninefold increase in the number of people it helps on an annual basis. Trek Medics also measures the number of mobile devices it supports, which is often correlated with the number of emergency personnel and vehicles using the service at a given time. The organization has seen a 6-time increase in the number of mobile devices supported since implementing New Relic.

As Trek Medics optimizes its technology stack and improves overall system reliability, more opportunities open to do good and help underserved populations. The organization hopes to take on larger, more sophisticated users—more complicated challenges with the potential to deliver an even greater impact.