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Dublin and New York City Portal—How did That Work Out?

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at ODU chapter.

Not even a week after its launch, the portal connecting the streets of New York City (NYC) to Dublin shut down due to “inappropriate behavior.”

On May 8, 2024, a large screen was unveiled in the Flatiron South Public Plaza at Broadway, Fifth Avenue and 23rd Street in New York with a matching one located in the intersection of Dublin, Ireland’s North Earl Street with O’Connell Street, a lively spot right across from the Spire, a landmark monument. Meant to give a look into how a city on the other half of the world lives, this portal was a great hit instantly. 

For many Dublin residents who have never stepped foot into the Big Apple, being able to look through this portal was an exciting experience! John Plummer, a tourist in Dublin, found the sight “amazing.” 

“It’s great to see something like this in the city and to be able to watch people going about their business in New York while we’re standing here in the center of Dublin.”

A few of the special moments visitors have enjoyed include a marriage proposal as shown in this TikTok clip, an across–the–ocean meetup between two friends and the casual passing of pedestrians waving into the livestream like in this video.

However, time proved how the antics of humans eventually ruin good things. Many were already nervous, wondering what good will a live telecast from NYC do but become a spot for pranks and mischief? Irish American interviewee Christopher Collins had a different opinion, though. 

“Everybody says that it’s a New York problem, but it’s everywhere in the world. So it doesn’t matter what city you’re gonna put it in, there’s gonna be some sort of idiot being stupid … It’s a universal language,” he told CBS New York

On Tuesday, May 14, 2024, the portal was shut down with its anticipated reopening “by the end of the next week.” According to CBS.org, due to incidents of flashing, showing inappropriate images on the live screen and additional misbehavior despite the 24/7 security present in NYC’s portal, the NYC and Dublin collaboration was “investigating possible technical solutions to inappropriate behavior by a small minority of people in front of the Portal.”

Although these “technical solutions” were not named nor speculated much at the time, there were a few options under consideration.

The first was a bit invasive: Using artificial intelligence to scan anything inappropriate on the screen and censor it. Another option would be to employ staff to detect and censor as they monitor screens. However, this is also time–consuming, exhausting and would likely result in a few things missed. 

Additionally, Dublin discussed the aforementioned proposal, denying it in the following statement:

“Dublin City Council had hoped to have a solution in place today, but unfortunately the preferred solution, which would have involved blurring, was not satisfactory. The team behind the sculptures, Portals.org, is looking at other options.”

Both of these options result in delay, defeating the purpose of a live, unfiltered look into the other cities. 

In the end, however, the Council did end up choosing the second option, censorship. It will now blur both sides of the portal as soon as a person steps up onto the portal’s stand or hinders the camera lens’s view in any way. As the portal reopened May 20, MSN reported that its new hours would be from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. in NYC–corresponding to 11 a.m. -9 p.m. in Dublin.

The Dublin City council confirmed there are plans to set up more portals connecting the city to Lithuania, Poland and Brazil starting in July. Its aim is to connect different cultures and help Dublin citizens feel more connected across the world. According to CBS, they additionally plan to start holding culturally engaging performances as another way to share heritage. 

A future that connects communities through portal technology

Daithí de Róiste, the mayor of Dublin, mentioned in his interview that the implementation of the Portal is attributed to its 2024 designation as the European Union Capital of Smart Tourism, supporting the council’s “commitment to a greener, more accessible, inclusive and innovative Dublin, for both visitors and locals.” It will be open until the end of Fall 2024. 
Benediktas Gylys, the Lithuanian artist who created the Portals initiative, wanted to raise “people above borders and differences and to experience our world as it really is–united and one.” From its conception in 2016 to the launch of its first portal connecting Vilnius, Lithuania to Lublin, Poland, Portals has focused on driving community, inclusivity and cultural sharing within cities worldwide. His vision of a world using video technology to overcome boundaries will definitely bring communities closer together!

Hi! I’m a junior at ODU, majoring in business admin. I love to write, paint and letting my creativity shine! I would love to work further in event management one day.