New York’s “Excelsior Pass” is getting a big update to make it more effective in expanding travel and commerce options for approximately 20 million New Yorkers, announced New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The update to the digital record system, dubbed the “Excelsior Pass Plus,” comes amid reports of controversy over the need to show proof of vaccination status, which was recently mandated by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for workers and attendees at indoor dining, gyms, and entertainment venues.
More than 3 million Excelsior Passes have been generated so far, according to the statement, and although the governor’s office asserts that the update is building on the “successful Excelsior Pass solution,” some have voiced concerns over the lack of transparency of the app, which could infringe on people’s privacy and present other security concerns.
Furthermore, Boston’s acting Mayor Kim Janey, a Democrat, blasted the vaccine passport idea, saying it would disproportionately affect minority populations that have lower vaccination rates.
The updated pass will have compatibility with the SMART Health Cards Framework, making it valid for use out of state and internationally. This system is developed by VCI, an international consortium of 570 organizations that includes big companies like Microsoft, as well as other major health networks.
“Excelsior Pass has enabled New Yorkers to get back to the people and things they love, helping drive our economic recovery in the process,” Cuomo said.
“Excelsior Pass Plus will advance this even further, and is part of our broad commitment to securely take our vaccination verification efforts to the next level. From Day 1, we have said that the question of ‘public health or the economy’ is a false choice—it is and must always be both, and as we continue to follow the science to remain ahead of the pandemic, we will continue to innovate our tools to ensure that New Yorkers and New York businesses thrive.”
The Excelsior Pass was officially launched in New York on March 26.
It was developed through a cooperative effort between IBM and the state.
The app will record the user’s name, birth date, pass type, and expiration date of the pass. According to developers, the pass utilizes blockchain technology and encryption to keep the data private.
New York State has spent $2.5 million to engineer the system with IBM.
The New York Times reported that the total cost could go up to 17 million, adding that the city expects the federal government to reimburse all the funds.
The high price is a result of the three-year contract that the state has with IBM, requiring the tech company to deliver a “road map” to cover the 20 million-plus inhabitants of the city.