1) to be able to update the pi, I have set up scripts that check
git-lab API once a day and download the repo when there is a new
version. is this common, is it acceptable?
Yes, also you can follow the procedure below. It's easy to create a scheduled script thanks to the "cron".
1. Create a file for the script:
sudo touch /home/update-script
You should use a systemd unit file to start the python script on boot up and run it as service. Just create a new service with:
rpi ~$ sudo systemctl --force --full edit monitor-db.service
In the empty editor insert these statements, save them and quit the editor:
Description=Monitor Database changes