Having two daughters as nurses in the early stages and at the height of the pandemic has been a rough week and month for me and my family. The uncertainty of the virus and the inability to secure PPE for my daughters was a time I will hopefully never see again. The past year has of course brought unforeseen changes in daily life as we have all known it to be.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are being felt around the world, and no one has been left untouched by the effects of the disease. Fortunately, the past five months have brought hope as multiple company vaccines have proven highly effective and the distribution of doses continues to grow. Both the private and public sectors have turned and worked diligently to meet the challenges we have all faced.
With a significant portion of the US population vaccinated and many more having received their first dose by this time, we must now focus on how to responsibly and efficiently reopen economies. This will be vital in getting citizens back to work, enabling the economy to meet pent-up demand, and ultimately restoring the economic prosperity of the many people financially affected by COVID-19.
Drive in the needle and move it
I have been a technologist all my life and the skills all over again Industry and public partnerships in support of humanity keep surprising me. Technology has played a critical role in helping schools and offices make the rapid transition to remote work and education. Now is the time to capitalize on those advances again by responsibly bringing back employees, students and consumers.
I am the Delivery Executive for the NY Digital Health Pass – Excelsior. Digital Health Passes are powerful and technology-based solutions this can help restore normalcy to society. Digital Health Pass, underpinned by Blockchain, deployed in New York, is located in the area of conflict between data security and healthcare. Users can check their health status without disclosing personal health information to third parties. There was a lot of hype about digital health passes or “vaccination cards”, but we turned the vision into reality. Our partnership with New York State has launched the Excelsior Pass, a New York branded Health Pass. The first state health passport to be rolled out in the United States.
With the Excelsior Pass, the vision becomes reality
Imagine the streets and restaurants of New York City buzzing again. Baseball stadiums with fans for Summer Games and Broadway back to entertain the flood of tourists and New Yorkers who flock to see legendary shows. If you live in NY, the Summer 2021 Excelsior Pass could be your ticket to this and much more. New York State has launched a digital health passport to help state officials expedite business reopenings. For the past two months, my team and I have been working to make this a reality. It was amazing to be working on a solution that will likely help millions of people and businesses. This company is at the intersection of healthcare and technology, two sectors that are very close to my heart.
The Excelsior Pass was launched on March 25th and makes the tool available to all 19 million New Yorkers and everyone Companies across the state. The application consists of three components: portal, wallet and scanner. Those who have been vaccinated or tested can visit the portal, a website where users can get their Excelsior passport. After successfully receiving their passport, they can download the NYS Excelsior Pass Wallet application on their smartphone to save their valid credentials. Proof of eligibility is shown to companies that accept the Excelsior Pass and looks much like an airline boarding pass. The third and final component is the scanner. Businesses can download the NYS Excelsior Pass Scanner onto a smartphone or tablet and scan the QR codes on customer passes to see if they have been tested or vaccinated.
To ensure fair access to the application, the verifiable and tamper-proof ID cards can either be presented digitally on a smartphone or printed out to ensure that the ID card is genuine and that the holder’s current COVID-19 health status complies with the required guidelines. Use of this tool is optional, but we hope that the emphasis on data security will give business owners and New Yorkers confidence to use this powerful tool to help boost the economy.
Get ahead with Digital Health Passes
The first positive reaction from the market is that the introduction of health passports is a viable way to get economies going again. Make progress as other states start rolling out their own Health Pass SolutionsIt will be vital to ensure interoperability between platforms. By emphasizing interoperability, immunization information systems (ISS) from other countries can be seamlessly linked to the Excelsior Pass or another digital health pass. We envision a future that will include multiple Health Pass solutions for businesses and consumers to choose which to take advantage of. For this reason, my team and I focused on the interoperability of our solution. In addition, easy communication between state and federal health systems will reduce the investment required and improve access to digital health passports. In the near future, we envision that a user from any state can use their Health Pass in New York or another state of their choice.
The expansion doesn’t stop there as more countries implement similar solutions and international travel increases. This emerging ecosystem of the Digital Health Pass will continue to grow. My team sees our technical expertise and network design framework (including proven governance and incentive models) as a key differentiator in helping governments and organizations build and fine-tune their programs. The implementation of the Excelsior Pass in New York and other emerging health pass systems will help establish a standard for vaccine verification and testing. This gives businesses, schools and businesses the ability to use a standard system instead of having to create and customize their own. Ultimately, this leads to significant savings for any company that plays with the idea of implementing a health passport system.
On the way to the hopeful end of the pandemic, we are excited to see what impact and what value digital health passports will have to enable all facets of the economy to start from scratch. I look to the future with optimism and look forward to the days when I can take to the streets again, meet with my colleagues and continue to solve the world’s problems through technological solutions.
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