New York on Friday announced the launch of Excelsior Pass, which it promotes as a “free, fast and secure way to present digital proof of COVID-19 vaccination or negative test results” using smartphones or printed passes.

The state hopes the voluntary measure will help expedite the entry process as events begin to reopen with restrictions in place.

Venues and other businesses will be able to scan your “pass” to ensure you meet any COVID-19 vaccination or testing requirements for entry, according to the press release. You’ll also need photo ID that shows your name and birth date to verify that the pass belongs to you.

The state says New York City’s Madison Square Garden and Albany’s Times Union Center have agreed to utilize Excelsior Pass, and it expects theaters, stadiums, weddings venues and other events to follow suit next month.

Those using Excelsior Pass will be able to print their pass or save it to the Excelsior Pass Wallet app, similar to an airline boarding pass. Both the NYS Excelsior Pass Wallet app (for attendees) and the NYS Excelsior Pass Scanner app (for businesses and venues) are now available on iOS and Android devices. More info on the pass is available here.

New York believes it is the first state to launch this technology.

“The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in the release. “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.”

Excelsior Pass is built in partnership with IBM. The state promises data will be kept secure through blockchain and encryption.

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Nick Veronica is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as the Digital Executive Producer in 2021. He previously worked at NBC Sports and The Buffalo News. You can follow Nick on Facebook and Twitter and find more of his work here.