Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams is currently an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and the Director of the Civic Data Design Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s School of Architecture and Planning. The Civic Data Design Lab employs data visualization and mapping techniques to expose and communicate urban patterns and policy issues to broader audiences. Before coming to MIT, Williams was Co-Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University. Sarah has won numerous awards, including being named top 25 planners in technology and 2012 Game Changer by Metropolis Magazine. Her work is currently on view in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

The Civic Data Design Lab works with data to understand it for public good. We seek to develop alternative practices which can make the work we do with data and images richer, smarter, more relevant, and more responsive to the needs and interests of citizens traditionally on the margins of policy development. In this practice we experiment with and develop data visualization and collection tools that allow us to highlight urban phenomena. Our methods borrow from the traditions of science and design by using spatial analytics to expose patterns and communicating those results, through design, to new audiences.


Session: digitalMatatus: Visualizing Informaility

digitalMatatus illustrates how anyone can leverage the ubiquitous nature of mobile technology in developing countries to collect data for an essential infrastructure, give it out freely, and in the process encourage the government to develop channels to provide better access to information. Conceived out of collaboration between American and Kenyan Universities, partnering with Nairobi’s growing technology sector, this project captured data on Nairobi’s transit system, developed mobile routing applications, and designed a new transit map for Nairobi that changed how both the residents and government navigate the system.

Panel: What a Difference a Year Makes: Data, Art & Ethics in a Post-Snowden World

On June 5th, 2013, The Guardian announced the leak of thousands of classified documents by NSA contractor Edward Snowden. These revelations (and others) have sparked a global conversation about data, privacy & ethical responsibility. Join a group of artists, theorists, researchers and practitioners for a discussion on what has changed, and how the Eyeo community can learn from and contribute to the ongoing dialogue.