Starting Friday, New Yorkers will be able to download the code to their cell phone or printout to confirm that they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have recently been tested for the virus.
The first national certificate, called the Excelsior Pass, will first apply to major venues such as Madison Square Garden, but next week will be accepted at a number of event, arts and entertainment venues across the country. It already empowers people to increase the size of a wedding party, or other cooked event.
The program, sponsored by government Andrew Cuomo to fund the revitalization of industries most affected by the epidemic, is sponsored by the government and is free of charge to businesses and anyone with vaccination records or test results in New York.
Like an airplane, people will be able to prove their status with a digital QR code – or a machine-readable label that means “quick response”. They will need to download the Excelsior Pass app, enter their name, date of birth, zip code and answer a series of personal questions to verify their identity. The information will appear in the state vaccination register and will also be linked to test data from many pre-approved testing companies.
The New York system, built on IBM’s digital pass platform, is provided with blockchain technology, so IBM and any business will not have access to confidential medical information. The entertainment site will simply scan the QR code and receive a green check or a red X.
The new world is part of a growing but concerted effort to provide “passports” or vaccine certificates, so people will not need to hang on paper with dog buttocks, worry about privacy or fraudulent issues, or fork over extra money to show they are not infected.
In addition to IBM, open source computer technicians, who provide code for anyone who can use it for free, have been developing such programs, such as retailers like Walmart, which also provides digital vaccination evidence to anyone shot at one of its pharmacies.
The biggest challenge will be to integrate these programs together, so people will not need a variety of applications everywhere or use.
Attorneys for open source software were already working together to “discover how to put together different pieces of the puzzle,” said Brian Behlendorf, executive director of the Linux Foundation for Public Health, an industry-leading organization that develops open source software.
“Indeed the nerves combine to form a kind of nerd U.N. to put all this together,” he said.
New York has not yet made those connectivity issues, but hopes that eventually, with the linking of Excelsior Pass tickets, so people attending an event at Madison Square Garden, for example, will be able to link their entry with their past life, rather than interfere with multiple apps.
One obstacle will be finding a fixed set of standards, so calculations such as an approved test or vaccine in one province or country will be calculated in another.
There are at least two competing levels of development developed globally to allow secure access to information about the immunization status, especially international travel.
At the moment, New York is using its own, established by its state health department, but it is unclear what will happen if Connecticut, New Jersey and other states launch their own certification programs.
Amy Fairchild, dean of Ohio State University and a historian and ethnographer, said the biggest challenges with those certificates would be cultural and not technical.
“IBM or Abbott or someone else can improve the app, but the question is will it? Is it reasonable to see it in use?” he asks.
The use of international travel is obvious. Countries, including the U.S. They will want to refuse access to people who cannot prove they are not infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.
But whether American consumers and businesses will accept the idea of giving evidence before entering is not clear, he said. Just as many Americans have refused to wear masks during the epidemic, some will reject the idea of showing a certificate to enter a football match or at night.
Vaccination “is not something we have ever done in the country other than school and hospital programs,” said Fairchild, adding that it could be very helpful in terms of public health and ultimately expanding coverage of flu and measles – if public opinion would not allow it.