Sarah Williams

Sarah Williams is currently an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and the Director of the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT's School of Architecture and Planning. The Civic Data Design Lab works with data, maps, and mobile technologies to develop interactive design and communication strategies that bring urban policy issues to broader audiences.

Trained as a Geographer (Clark University), Landscape Architect (University of Pennsylvania), and Urban Planner (MIT), Williams's work combines geographic analysis and design. Her design work has been widely exhibited including work in the Guggenheim and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) 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). Williams has won numerous awards including being named top 25 planners in the technology and 2012 Game Changer by Metropolis Magazine. Her work is currently on view in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and Cooper-Hewitt Museum in New York.

Selected Press 

Design Museum Boston:  Interview with Sarah Williams, The Civic Data Design Lab, MIT, September 29, 2015

TEDxWaterloo: Sarah Williams - Mapping the Psychological CityJune 12, 2012

MIT Alumni Association: 2015 Tech Day: Urban Security: Smarter Cities through Big Data - Sarah Williams MCP ’05June 30, 2015


Digital Matatus: Using mobile technology to visualize informality / In: Proceedings ACSA 103rd Annual Meeting: The Expanding Periphery and the Migrating Center, 2015 / Type: Papers in Refereed Journals

More Than Data: Working with Big Data for Civics / In: I/S: A journal of Law and Policy for the information Society, Forthcoming 2015 / Type: Papers in Refereed Journals

Digital Matatus: Formalizing the Informal / In: Cartographic Grounds: Projecting the Landscape Imaginary coedited by Jill Desimini and Charles Waldheim, Forthcoming 2015 / Type: Other Publications

The Digital Matatu Project: Using Cell Phones to Create an Open Source Data for Nairobi's Semi-Formal Bus System / By: Williams, Sarah, Adam White, Peter Waiganjo, Daniel Orwa, Jacqueline Klopp / In: Journal of Transportation Geography, submitted October 2014 / Type: Papers Submitted to Refereed Journals

City Digits: Developing Socially-Grounded Data Literacy Using Digital Tools / By: Williams, Sarah, Erica Deahl, Laurie Rubel, Vivian Lim / In: Journal of Digital Media Literacy, Forthcoming December 2014 / Type: Papers in Refereed Journals

Industry in Motion: Using Smart Phones to Explore the Spatial Network of the Garment Industry in New York City / By: Williams, Sarah, and Elizabeth Currid-Halkett / In: PloS one 9.2 (2014): e86165. / Type: Papers in Refereed Journals

Toward Open Source Kenya: Creating and Sharing a GIS Database of Nairobi. / By: Williams, Sarah, Elizabeth Marcello, and Jacqueline M. Klopp. / In: Annals of the Association of American Geographers 104.1 (2014): 114-130 / Type: Papers in Refereed Journals

Local Lotto: Mathematics and mobile technology to study the lottery / By: Lim, V., Deahl, E., Rubel, L., Williams, S. / In: In Polly, D. (Ed.), Cases on Technology Integration in Mathematics Education. Hershey, PA: IGI Global. / Type: Refereed Book Chapters

The Responsive City : The City of the Future Re-Imagined from the Bottom-Up / In: Emerging Urbanism, Edited by Tigran Hass, Ashgate Publishers, England [2014] / Type: Book Chapters

Beijing Air Tracks: Tracking Data for Good / In: Accountability Technologies Tools for Asking Hard Questions, Edited by Dietmar Offenhuber, Katja Schechtner, AMBRA, Vienna, Austria [2013] / Type: Book Chapters

Here Now ! Social Media and the Psychological City / In: Map in: Atlas of Design, Edited by Tim Wallace and Daniel Huffman, North American Cartographic Information Society [2012] / Type: Book Chapters 

Here Now ! Social Media and the Psychological City / In: Essay in: Inscribing a Square - Urban Data as Public Space, Edited by Katja Schechtner and Dietmar Offenhuber, Springer [2012] / Type: Book Chapters 

The New Olympic Stars (of Twitter) / By: White, Jeremey, Hannah Fairfield, Sarah Williams And Georgia Bullen / In: New York Times, August 13, 2012 / Type: Other Publications

The Emergence of Los Angeles as a Fashion Hub: A Comparative Analysis of New York and Los Angeles Fashion Industry / By: Williams, Sarah and Elizabeth Currid - Halkett / In: Urban Studies Volume 48 Issue 14, November 2011. / Type: Papers in Refereed Journals

Two Cities, Five Industries: Similarities and Differences Within and Between Cultural Industries in New York and Los Angeles / By: Currid, Elizabeth and Sarah Williams / In: Journal of Planning Education and Research (March 2010) vol. 29 no. 3 322-335. / Type: Papers in Refereed Journals

The Geography of Buzz: art, culture and the social milleu in Los Angeles and New York / By: Currid, Elizabeth and Sarah Williams / In: Journal of Economic Geography, (July, 2009) pg 1-29 / Type: Papers in Refereed Journals

Pollution along the Olympic Marathon Route – Beijing 2008 / By: Williams, Sarah, Archie Tse / In: New York Times, August 18, 2008 / Type: Other Publications

Measuring Pollution – Beijing Olympics / By: Williams, Sarah, Siemond Chan, Brian Horton / In: Associated Press, August, 2008 /Type: Other Publications

New York City Department of Sanitation, 311 Complaint Spatial Analysis Assessment In: Report Provided to New York City’s Department of Sanitation, [November 2007] / Type: Other Publications

The Socio-Spatial Consequences of Inmate Release New York City / By: Venkatesh, Sudhir, Sarah Williams, Eva Rosen / In: Report Open Society Institute – [2007] / Type: Other Publications

Envisioning Gateway: A Study of Gateway National Recreation Area / By: Williams, Sarah, Kate Orff, Hui Tse / In: NPCA Research Report [2007] / Type: Other Publications

The Socio-Spatial Consequences of Inmate Release In New York City / By: Kurgan, Laura, Sarah Williams, Eric Cadora, David Reinfurt / In: Open Society Institute Research Note [2007] / Type: Other Publications

Mobile Landscapes: using location data from cell-phones for urban analysis / By: Ratti, Carlo, Riccardo Maria Pulselli, Sarah Williams, Dennis Frenchman / In: Environment and Planning B Vol. 33 (2006) pages 7-27-748, x / Type: Papers in Refereed Journals

The Crime in Criminal Data: Columbia University’s Spatial information Design Lab Visualizes Justice / By: Kurgan, Laura, Sarah Williams, Eric Cadora, David Reinfurt / In: Architecture, pg 52-53. [November 2006] / Type: Other Publications 

Spatial Information Design Lab: Million Dollar Blocks: A Project for Visual Communications / By: Kurgan, Laura, Sarah Williams, Eric Cadora, David Reinfurt / In: Journal of Visual Communications pg. 241-244, Volume 5, Issue 2, [2006] / Type: Other Publications 

Spatial Information Design Lab: Million Dollar Blocks / By: Kurgan, Laura, Sarah Williams, Eric Cadora, David ReinfurtIn: Volume /Archis vol. 20 # 4 [November, 2005] / Type: Other Publications 

Understanding urban assets: using remote sensing to manage stormwater run-off In: [M.I.T Master’s Thesis, MCP, 2005] / Type: Other Publications

City on the Rail: MIT-Tsinghua Urban Design Studio / By: Williams, Sarah, Roger Torino, James Shen / In: World Architecture, [March, 2005] / Type: Other Publications

Evolving metadata needs for an institutional repository: MIT's DSpace. / By: Branschofsky, Margret, Rebecca Lubas, MacKenzie Smith, and Sarah Williams / In: In International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications, pp. pp-237. 2003 / Type: Papers in Refereed Journals 

Areas of Interest
Landscape Architecture and Natural Systems, Urban Information, Technology, and Media and Analytics