Digital Solutions Help Support New York State with Reopening Plans

By Steve LaFleche
March 26, 2021

This week, with more than a quarter of its residents vaccinated, New York State announced the availability of its digital health pass designed in partnership with IBM. The intent is to help give New Yorkers and local businesses options for how they responsibly begin to reopen as the pandemic persists.

Called Excelsior Pass, it is a first-of-its-kind from a U.S. state – a free, voluntary, convenient, and secured method for individuals to provide confirmation of COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test.

The technology is built on the IBM Digital Health Pass platform and was successfully piloted in March. Now Excelsior Pass will be made available to residents and businesses across the State of New York, allowing New Yorkers to securely verify that they have received the COVID-19 vaccine, or a negative test result, to gain entry to major stadiums, weddings, catered and other events in accordance with state guidelines.

There are numerous reasons this technology is ideally suited to help support a return to normalcy including:

  • Optional and Accessible.
    Excelsior Pass is an alternative to carrying around and sharing sensitive personal health information, including official vaccination or testing paperwork. The Pass is another way that New Yorkers can access and share information on their own terms. Users can access the tool in multiple languages and can share the information via a digital smartphone wallet or printed credential.
  • Privacy First.
    The technology has been built with individual privacy and control in mind. No personal health data is stored or tracked within the Pass. Users access a QR code to confirm their COVID-19 vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result.
  • Open to Scale. 
    IBM is committed to collaborating with organizations and industry groups to expand the responsible use and availability of these technologies. New York’s Excelsior Pass has been built using current common standards with the aim of other organizations potentially joining the effort in the future. 

IBM is proud to support the State of New York and believes that this work serves as an example of how new technology-enabled approaches can be used to help foster a safe restart of economies while striving to protect public health.       


Steve LaFleche,
General Manager, IBM Public and Federal Market