New York State trialing IBM Covid-19 blockchain app – Ledger Insights

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This week, the State of New York announced it is piloting a blockchain health certificate app with IBM to show proof of Covid-19 vaccination or negative test results.

Named the Excelsior Pass, the tool confirms vaccine and testing information via confidential data transfer. It is hoped the app can help with the swift re-opening of venues and businesses. Like a mobile airline boarding pass, the Pass provides participants with a QR code, which venues can scan to confirm health status.

First trialed at a Brooklyn Nets basketball game at the Barclays Center in New York City, the Excelsior Pass was again piloted at Madison Square Garden for the New York Rangers ice hockey game yesterday. The results will be used to develop the user experience before being submitted to the Apple and Google app stores.

Covid-19 health certificates are one of the most popular enterprise blockchain applications currently being developed. With most health certificate applications, the data is communicated directly between the health provider and the individual. Where blockchain comes in is the ability to prove that it was the health provider that issued the certificate and it was issued to that specific person, rather than being copied. This is referred to as a verifiable credential.

“As we begin reopening the valves on different sectors of our economy, we are putting guidelines in place to ensure individuals attending events involving larger gatherings have tested negative for Covid or have been vaccinated to avoid an outbreak of the virus,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

 ”The Excelsior Pass will play a critical role in getting information to venues and sites in a secure and streamlined way, allowing us to fast-track the reopening of these businesses and getting us one step closer to reaching a new normal.”

Steve LaFleche, General Manager, IBM Public and Federal Market, said: “In choosing to test a flexible and accessible tool that places the security and privacy of personal data at its core, this can be a national example of how new approaches can help safely reinvigorate economies while also protecting public health.”

The IBM Digital Health Pass solution was first launched in October last year to verify employee health status in the workplace. Given the popularity of Covid-19 credential solutions currently on the market, the Good Health Pass Collaborative was launched in early 2021 by the ID2020 to encourage interoperability between the various health credential solutions. Members include the Airports Council International and the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Several airlines are also trialing health credential initiatives. Emirates Airlines is trying out GE Digital and TE-FOOD’s TrustOne app. British Airways, Singapore Airlines and others are piloting IATA’s Travel Pass platform. And Air France is exploring the ICC AOKpass.


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