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Former Atlanta CTO Takes Aim at Gov’s Data Fears With New Tech

Tye Hayes, who helped the city of Atlanta recover from its high-profile 2018 ransomware attack in time to host the Super Bowl, drew on the lessons from that rebuilding with a new product aimed at enabling innovation.

A person gesturing to a laptop screen with a pen in the background with technology symbols connected by digital lines in the foreground.
Fear — well-founded fear, to be sure — has led to much trepidation about government moving forward with technology in order to improve itself and better serve constituents.

That’s why Tye Hayes, who helped the city of Atlanta recover from a 2018 hack that is every city’s nightmare, is trying to help government stand up to that fear. Her company, N-Ovate Solutions, has put out a new product meant to mitigate risk and give agencies the right tools to modernize and innovate, pulling directly from her experience helping Atlanta rebuild.

The new product, SmartGov Data Tech, is a data platform N-Ovate built using FedRAMP-authorized cloud technology. Hayes described it as a “unified data stack” offering three modules: one to connect and ingest data; one to detect, clean and move data; and one to archive it. A fourth module for visualization is in the works.

“SmartGov was really that data platform that’s been uniquely designed to help try to solve that problem,” Hayes said. “We’re not trying to be your analytics tool, we’re not trying to be any type of smart data solve. We are trying to enable that by helping you clean that data, connect it, be able to protect the sensitive things, lock down the data, put retention schedules in place, all from one pane of glass, and then you enable your smart innovation.”

That emphasis on enablement ties back to Atlanta, but further back into Hayes’ career as well. After the hack, and ahead of the Super Bowl the city hosted early the next year, Atlanta looked to use its rebuilding as an opportunity to lay the foundation for bigger and better things. Like many cities, it wanted to explore Internet of Things technology, smart policing tools, cloud adoption and insights that could only be gained by analyzing information across departments.

It all came down to data.

“I’ve been working in the industry for a long time. I come from government, I’ve been in the military, I’ve served in the United States Navy, I’ve worked for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics on the security side, I’ve worked for GE Power Systems,” Hayes said. “And in every major migration you run into data challenges. In any type of innovation [or] transformation project data becomes a challenge.”

Those challenges, again, are often based in fear.

“[Customers have been] afraid they were gonna lose it, they were afraid to move it, you know, ‘This is what keeps the lights on,’” she said. “Any of those things — compliance issues have always been the thing that, one, keeps organizations’ risk a problem because they have a lot of legacy in place, but also it keeps them from being able to move. So we felt like we were able to solve that problem and be able to help you with workforce, because a lot of times it’s a skill set issue as well.”

As a consultancy, N-Ovate also expects to work closely with government agencies using SmartGov in order to help them make the best use of it and to augment any skill shortages they might have, depending on individual need.

Those needs would appear to be uniquely ripe opportunities at this moment, Hayes pointed out. The past couple of years have paired new demands with new resources for state and local government as well as education.

“What COVID has done is really highlighted the need to be flexible and be able to provide services. Now your constituents, the residents, are demanding different types of services. They don’t want to go in to do tags. They want to have that flexibility, which is forcing that innovation from the customer base,” she said. “With … limited one-time fundings that are coming, agencies need to be very strategic about how they use those fundings.”

The product is part of the Black Progress Matters incubator program. N-Ovate is headquartered in Georgia, but has offices in New York and Arizona as well.
Ben Miller is the associate editor of data and business for Government Technology. His reporting experience includes breaking news, business, community features and technical subjects. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the Reynolds School of Journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and lives in Sacramento, Calif.