SFI Lecture: "Data Action: Using Data for a Public Good"

Join the Sara Fine Institute on February 5, 2021 at 1 pm for a virtual talk by Sarah Williams (MIT) titled Data Action: Using Data for a Public Good.

Please register for this event here. A Zoom link and login information will be emailed once you register for the lecture. 

A debrief discussion on the talk will be held on February 11 at 12pm. More information is available here.


Using illustrations from her own work and that of others, Williams will explain how we can use data as a tool for empowerment rather than oppression, something Williams calls "Data Action", which is also the title of her recent book. Data Action seeks to provide guidance for using data toward the benefit of society, learning from the ways we have used data unethically in the past and illustrating ways we can use it more ethically and creatively in the future. Some themes emerge for working with data for the public good, and these themes help to establish the principles for Data Action, the author's method for approaching data, which will be highlighted in the talk.


Sarah Williams is currently an Associate Professor of Technology and Urban Planning at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she also directs the Civic Data Design Lab and chairs MIT’s new undergraduate program in Urban Science. Williams’ combines her training in computation and design to create communication strategies that expose urban policy issues to broad audiences and create civic change. She calls the process Data Action, which is also the name of her recent book published by MIT Press. Williams is co-founder and developer of Envelope.city, a web-based software product that visualizes and allows users to modify zoning in New York City.  Before coming to MIT, Williams was Co-Director of the Spatial Information Design Lab at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture Planning and Preservation (GSAPP), where she was a member of the Million Dollar Blocks team which is well known for using visualization to highlight the costs of incarceration. Her design work has been widely exhibited including work in the Guggenheim, the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), Venice Biennale, and the Cooper Hewitt Museum. Williams has won numerous awards including being named top 25 planners in the technology and Game Changer by Metropolis Magazine. Check out her latest exhibition, Visualizing NYC 2021, at the Center for Architecture in New York City.