One of the first obstacles that nations around the world faced at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic was how to track the people that patients came into contact with before testing positive for the coronavirus. Contact tracking has become almost the perfect opportunity for technology, especially mobile and cloud, to make things easier. Now that vaccinations are underway, a new need has arisen, the need to track who has already taken the vaccines. Once again putting the technology to use, the state of New York has just launched the Excelsior Pass, perhaps one of, if not the first “passport” COVID-19 to be distributed to the public.
Tracking data is something that today’s technology is great at, sometimes even for less innocent purposes. There are several forms of contact tracking technology and applications that have been used by different governments and organizations, but the most common ones revolve around the use of smartphones and applications. Now, the same is being done to track the status of COVID-19 tests and vaccinations, at least in the state of New York.
Developed in conjunction with IBM, the Excelsior Pass, in honor of the state motto, is one of the first COVID-19 passports to be deployed en masse. Like a normal passport, it will be a kind of ticket to events and establishments that are starting to open within the state. New York has made it mandatory to have a negative COVID-19 test result for major events and venues, and the Excelsior Pass is designed to make it convenient to store that data and show it when needed.
Users of the Excelsior Pass app can choose to print the QR code that checks their negative result or vaccination status or keep the data in the app’s “Wallet”. Companies will also have to download a complementary application that they will use to scan the QR code to check the data before allowing entry.
As with contact tracking applications, privacy is one of the biggest concerns about these methods of storing and sharing information about people. The QR code generated by the Excelsior Pass only continues the information about the validity of the pass and not the user’s personal information. Obviously, the use of the Excelsior Pass itself is optional, but New Yorkers will still need to present the results of the required vaccination status tests for these meetings and events.