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New Zealand Integrates Vaccine Pass for Domestic and International Travel

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The Ministry of Health New Zealand has recently unveiled more technology support details about its vaccine certificate system, which will be available later this month. The ministry said in a statement that two different “vaccine passes,” one for internal travel and the other for overseas travel, will be implemented soon.

The ‘My Vaccine Pass’ will serve as an official record of a person’s Covid-19 vaccination status, allowing them to enter sites in New Zealand that require proof of immunisation. For foreign travel, a second pass will be required and will be available soon.

Data will be stored in a QR code, and the government is in the midst of developing a free app to scan the vaccination card. The ministry also announced that it was developing a My Vaccine Pass verification app that would be free to download from app stores and allow anyone to scan and verify a My Vaccine Pass.

OpenGov Asia reported that a new tap and go feature on the NZ Covid tracer app will be developed and tested at Victoria University of Wellington and several small businesses. The trial, which is being run by the Ministry of Health, will see the app use Near Field Communications (NFC) tags in addition to QR codes.

The primary distinction between NFC and QR Code is that NFC technology exchanges data using mobile end devices such as cell phones, tablets, and notebook computers. As a result, several new consumer-facing apps, such as intelligent posters, payment systems, and interactive marketing events, are now possible.

Individuals with a compatible phone and the latest version of the NZ Covid Tracer app will be able to record a diary entry by holding their phone against a small NFC tag. They will only need to unlock their phone and hold it near the tag, which will be placed near existing QR code posters, and the app will automatically open and add the diary entry.

The tap-and-go tags will be distributed throughout the university’s Kelburn, Pipitea, and Te Aro campuses, as well as two cafes on Molesworth Street – Mojo Summit and Hauora – and a Wellington Fitness Centre, HealthFit Collective. According to an Auckland University researcher at Koi T, Centre for Informed Futures, the addition of NFC technology will not significantly alter how the app is used.

Adding a diary entry via NFC tag would provide the same privacy safeguards as scanning and Bluetooth, with all data stored on the user’s phone until they choose to share it. Only if they tested positive for Covid-19 were people asked to share their digital diaries.

In addition, the National Digital Services Group Manager remarked that these additional details should highlight how vaccine passes will work. “It is crucial for a business to look into the approach being taken and start thinking about how they can best incorporate this into their operations,” he said. The agency emphasised that they have spoken with event planners, tourism operators, and other enterprises to learn about their verification needs.

The ministry’s Verifier App can also be used for in-person verification, however, if businesses want to add more advanced features, such as integration with current digital journeys or pre-verification processes, the technical specification gives enough information to do so. The ministry has contracted a New Zealand-based tech firm to create both domestic and foreign vaccination passes. According to the Ministry, the corporation has developed current technological platforms for similar use cases.

“It was vital for the ministry to partner with a New Zealand tech company that recognised the requirement for the public to have a secure digital record of their immunisation status,” the National Digital Services Group Manager added. Ultimately, the immunisation certificates can be obtained through the ministry’s MyCovidRecord app.

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