Using data as a tool of empowerment

Interview with Sarah Williams, Associate Professor of Technology and Urban Planning at MIT Director of the Civic Data Design Lab and Author.

Are You A Robot? podcast

Sarah is a geographer, landscape architect and data scientist. With her skillset, she has been thinking about how we can use data to create action in society and improve life for those on the margins. Sarah strongly believes that we need to think about the way AI can do harm and asks urban planners and policy experts to really interrogate their practises to make sure they are ethical and unbiased.

Sarah’s book Data Action provides a guide in which we can use data for empowerment instead of oppression. Sarah herself has worked on multiple amazing projects in which we can do so, for example Digital Matatus, which shows how to pull the omnipresent nature of mobile technology in developing countries to collect data for infrastructure. This data created a new, successful transit map for Nairobi and has led to a spark, where similar projects are developing in other cities.

In our interview with Sarah, we’ll be discussing if we can fully remove biases from data sets, and how we can decolonise data structures. We’ll also be diving in deeper into projects that Sarah is working on, including Living Data Hubs.

Stay tuned!