NY’s vaccine passport “Excelsior Pass” goes live as stadiums and venues reopen

Image provided by the Governor’s Office

With stadiums and arenas across New York starting to allow limited fans, the state is unveiling a system that is sure to make for a more efficient process. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on March 26 the launch of Excelsior Pass, a voluntary digital pass that will be able to verify COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test results. The pass will be available for businesses such as stadiums, arenas, wedding receptions, catered occasions and other events in accordance with New York State guidelines. 

Individuals will be able to print out their pass or display it on their phones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet App. Using a secure QR code, businesses will be able to verify the results using a companion app. The information will be secure and confidential at all times. 

Major venues have already announced that they will be introducing the Excelsior Pass into their business in the coming weeks, starting with Madison Square Garden in New York City this week and Times Union Center in Albany.

“New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back COVID, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure,” Cuomo said.

Prior to this launch, two successful test runs of the pass were conducted over the last couple of weeks. The service is voluntary and people can choose whether to have this data stored on the Excelsior Pass. 

One of the main concerns that may arise from “vaccination passports” like Excelsior Pass is how it can secure the information it is storing. To combat this, the pass is being developed in partnership with IBM and is designed to handle the information about the vaccination and test results without the need to share personal information. Additionally, secure technology, like blockchain and encryption, are woven into the app to help protect the data. 

“In choosing a flexible and accessible tool that places security and privacy at its core, the state is modeling for the rest of the country how new, technology-enabled approaches can help safely reinvigorate economies while also striving to protect public health,” said Steve LaFleche, General Manager, IBM Public and Federal Markets. 

New York is the first state to develop such a platform, but others are right on their heels. In fact, the Biden Administration is currently developing a system to prove whether people have been vaccinated against coronavirus. Like the Excelsior Pass, the administration wants a platform that will utilize a “vaccine passport” service and speed up the reopening process. 

Currently, 30 % of the statewide population has received at least one dose of the vaccine while 16.3% have completed the vaccination process. 

The state is preparing for universal eligibility for the vaccine beginning April 6.