New York Releases Live Event Entry App

April 1, 2021

Article sourced from LDI/Live Design and written by Hannah Kinnersley

The Excelsior Pass acts like a digital wallet to hold proof of Covid vaccination or test status, and can be shown at the event entrance by anyone with a smart phone. The app is free, and is available here. It has been piloted at some big New York venues including Madison Square Garden, the Barclays Center, and the Times Union Center in Albany, N.Y. All of which have confirmed that they will begin accepting the pass at the beginning of April and more venues are expected to sign up.

At the moment, the Excelsior Pass is little more than a convenient place to store Covid test results, which are typically emailed to the test subject anyway. Proof of vaccination appears to come from the state’s Electronic Clinical Laboratory Reporting System, which maintains a database compiled from participating test and vaccination centers. However, ECLRS only maintains a database of vaccinated New Yorkers, leaving  theatre and concert fans from Connecticut, New Jersey and elsewhere having to bring their own vaccination cards. The Excelsior Pass generates a QR code which participating venues can scan quickly, but the attendees will also need to show official photo ID to confirm the app goes with the person, so it doesn’t really speed up entry to the event and does nothing for the 20% of New Yorkers without a smart phone.

There are other concerns about the use of apps like this one. For instance, there is still no conclusive evidence that being vaccinated stops a person from spreading the virus, so it is probably not a reliable way to justify mixing vaccinated people with unvaccinated, Covid-tested people in large groups just yet, unless the vaccinated population also has a Covid test. There is also a small segment of the population that cannot get vaccinated for medical reasons and there is currently no option to provide proof of that information on the app. As more citizens are vaccinated, the use of “vaccine passports” could create a two-tier system locking out uninfected but unvaccinated people.

However, the important thing about the Excelsior App is its creation recognizes that New York needs live events and the authorities are committed to finding ways for them to return safely. The investment in this app is one step closer to this goal.