CES 2022 is the first big test of vaccine verification for in-person tech events. Image: CES You can’t miss the green banner that pops up at the top of every Continue Reading
CES 2022 is the first big test of vaccine verification for in-person tech events.
You can’t miss the green banner that pops up at the top of every page on the CES 2022 website: “You MUST be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to pick up a badge and access CES in-person in Las Vegas.” CTA also requests that in-person attendees take a self-test 24 hours before leaving for the event and 24 hours after arriving.
In September, Salesforce required the few in-person attendees at Dreamforce 2021 to show proof of vaccination to enter the event, but CES 2022 will be one of the first large-scale events to do so. Alla Valente, a senior analyst at Forrester, said CTA’s decision to require vaccination reflects a trend she has seen among many of her clients.
“The Forrester clients we speak with are choosing to follow the science and require proof of vaccination for all employees, regardless of whether those employees work in an office or from home,” she said.
Operational details vary, ranging from educational efforts about the benefits of the COVID-19 vaccine to incentives to encourage people to get the jab to vaccine verification.
CES announced the vaccination requirement mid-year and requires U.S. attendees to use the CLEAR app to verify vaccination status.
“Outside the U.S., national apps are the norm such as the ‘Green Pass’ in the E.U., NHS COVID Pass in the U.K., and CANImmunize in Canada,” she said. “In the U.S., it’s a bit more complicated as there isn’t a federal app and some states have moved to ban vaccination ‘passports’ altogether.”
Valente named the Excelsior Pass from New York and the MyIR Mobile used in seven states as the most successful statewide vaccine verification apps. In the absence of a state app, some companies are using apps from HR software providers like Workday, ADP and ServiceNow, or purpose-built products like ReturnSafe.
“We see some conference organizers going the biometrics route to verify vaccination by partnering with CLEAR and its Health Pass technology,” she said.
CLEAR has a lot of event customers lined up for 2022, based on the list of conferences that show up in the Health Pass app. The list includes the American Physical Therapy Association, Structured Finance 2022, Work Truck Week 2022 and CES 2022.
Best practices for securing verification apps
Lynne A. Dunbrack, group vice president for IDC Health Insights and IDC Government Insights, said vaccine verification systems should be linked to vaccine databases to ensure the veracity of the information provided and include vaccine dates, brand and COVID-19 test status.
“Public key infrastructure enables digital signatures to show which health authority issued the passport, making the contents tamperproof,” she said.
Also, the passport should store a minimal amount of personal data about the individual to prevent passport data from being used for tracking or aggregation.
“The passport should not transmit the details of the passport, which should be stored on the consumer’s device, but rather validates the PKI-based signature,” she said. “Anything related to COVID-19 has become a target for bad actors to exploit and the aggregation of vaccine status data and related personal health information is no different.”
Dunbrack said companies will have to build trust among employees and other users to ensure adoption of any verification app, as people will have concerns about sharing sensitive health information with employers and others.
“We saw what happened to attempts to deploy contact tracing applications on a local, state, or national level,” she said. People resisted using them because they didn’t want to be tracked and their location data stored by a third-party.”
Dunbrack expects similar concerns about sharing vaccine status.
“The challenge is that consumers will have to use multiple apps to prove their vaccination status because different apps will be used by conference and entertainment venues, the travel and hospitality industry, and local and state governments,” she said.
Valente said that there are privacy and security risks as with any technology, including the risk of a data breach or data leaks that could share sensitive information with third parties without consent.
“We’re still in very early stages of vaccination mandates and verification and we expect to see this market and the sentiment around it to continue to change,” she said.
CLEAR Health Pass
Each CES attendee has to pick up her or his own badge and show proof of vaccination to do so.
In-person attendees from the U.S. will use Health Pass from the CLEAR app to show a digital copy of a vaccination card. CLEAR’s identity verification via biometrics was first used for airport security checks. The company added the Health Pass feature in 2020 in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jeanne Abella, a senior coordinator for event communications at CTA, said CLEAR’s free mobile app and Health Pass provide a simple and secure way to share vaccination status.
“CES wanted to use a third-party platform that is easy for attendees to use,” she said. “CES also valued working with a platform that has experience verifying this type of information.”
International attendees must show a digital or hard copy of their vaccine record and a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than one day before travel to the U.S. Digital vaccination certificates and mobile applications that many countries have issued will also be accepted. Vaccine records must clearly state the following:
- Full name
- Type of vaccine administered
- Date of when the vaccine was received
- Location where vaccine was administered
CTA notes that “buying, selling or using a fraudulent vaccination card is a state and federal crime.”
People also will receive a self-test kit with their event badges. The Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Self Test requires a shallow nasal swab, takes 15 minutes and is an Honoree in the CES 2022 Innovation Awards program.
CTA is providing on-site COVID-19 testing for attendees but has not said if the organization will be tracking the number of cases that crop up during the event.
“CES attendees are encouraged to download the COVID Trace app developed by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services,” Abella said. “The mobile application uses a technology called the Exposure Notifications System from Google and Apple.”
CTA has implemented several other safety protocols such as improved ventilation and social distancing.