New York turns to IBM blockchain to battle the coronavirus
Traditional consensus says blockchain technology is outdated and serves little need to society. But you can show the naysayers this COVID-19 mobile app the next time.
An app for tracking coronavirus test results and proving an individual’s vaccine status launched in New York over the weekend, and it’s using blockchain technology to ensure tamperproof results.
The Excelsior Pass
Called the Excelsior Pass and launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo, the app is based on technology firm IBM’s proprietary blockchain technology and is now live for public usage.
Trust is the most important factor in #supplychain distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine ?.
— IBM Blockchain (@IBMBlockchain) March 27, 2021
Users can use the app to store information about their vaccination status using the Excelsior Pass Wallet or print out a physical ‘pass’ if required.
The app is a free, voluntary platform developed in partnership with IBM that utilizes blockchain technology to confirm an individual’s negative PCR or antigen test result. The move serves as proof of vaccination and helps fast-track the reopening of businesses and event venues in accordance with New York State Department of Health guidelines.
Currently, New York is the only US state to use blockchain technology in a coronavirus application. The app itself was launched after two pilot demonstrations and a beta test with thousands of New Yorkers, who all provided feedback on the overall experience and ease of use.
Utilizing blockchain for good
As per the release, each Pass has a secure QR code that can be scanned by participating businesses and venues to verify an individual’s negative test results or proof of vaccination. As such, the data is kept secure and confidential at all times via encryption and blockchain technology.
“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,” said Governor Cuomo in a statement.
“As more New Yorkers get vaccinated each day and as key public health metrics continue to regularly reach their lowest rates in months, the first-in-the-nation Excelsior Pass heralds the next step in our thoughtful, science-based reopening.”
Major venues have already announced they will begin utilizing this technology in the coming weeks, including Madison Square Garden in New York City beginning next week and the Times Union Center in Albany. Then, from April 2, the Excelsior Pass will expand to smaller arts, entertainment, and event venues.
Meanwhile, don’t be concerned about the high energy usage of the IBM blockchain. It doesn’t use a proof-of-work consensus design like Bitcoin and Ethereum and is a ‘permissioned’ network—meaning it’s distributed but not decentralized.