ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Friday the launch of “Excelsior Pass” which his office says will help “fast-track the reopening of businesses and entertainment venues statewide.”

Officials from the governor’s office say the digital pass offers free and voluntary ways to shared COVID-19 vaccination information, or negative COVID-19 test results.

Officials say the technology was developed in partnership with IBM, adding that it is proven and secure.

As part of the initial launch, the governor’s office says the Excelsior Pass can be used at theaters, major stadiums, arenas, wedding receptions, catered events, and more.

According to state officials, this tech is “similar to a mobile airline boarding pass.” Individuals will be able to either print out their pass or store it on their smartphones using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app. Each Pass will have a “secure” QR code, which participating businesses and venues can scan using a companion app to verify proof of COVID-19 negative test results or proof of vaccination. Officials say “an individual’s data is kept secure and confidential at all times.”

“New Yorkers have proven they can follow public health guidance to beat back COVID, and the innovative Excelsior Pass is another tool in our new toolbox to fight the virus while allowing more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure,” Gov. Cuomo said. “The question of ‘public health or the economy’ has always been a false choice — the answer must be both. 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.”

Interested New Yorkers can opt in to use Excelsior Pass online, and so can businesses.

Major venues have already announced they will begin utilizing this technology in the coming weeks, including Madison Square Garden in New York City beginning next week and the Times Union Center in Albany. 

Beginning April 2, Excelsior Pass will expand to smaller arts, entertainment and event venues, according to the governor’s office.

According to the governor’s office, New York is the first state in the nation to formally launch this kind of technology. Prior to its launch, two successful pilot demonstrations were held in recent weeks, along with a beta test where thousands of New Yorkers participated in a limited roll out of the technology to provide feedback on user interface and results.