Dr. Sarah Barns

Co-Founder and Director

Strategy, Curation, Engagement and Partnerships LinkedInsarah@esemprojects.com

Dr. Sarah Barns is a creative producer and strategist, with a lifelong love of cities, historical geography, digital storytelling and digital futures. Each of these seemingly distinct threads have interwoven throughout her career, allowing Sarah to being unique insights, empathy and expertise to her work today. Sarah is someone who has experience delivering high level organisational and national strategy, but loves to work at the local level as well. Working with communities in a tangible and impactful way is a deliberate choice, reflecting her belief in the importance of place-based discovery and engagement in an increasingly digitally-intensive societies.

Her passion for location-based urban storytelling led her to become fascinated with the way digital platforms influence our experience of places and spaces. To this end, in 2011 Sarah developed a cross-media arts practice called Esem Projects, working with communities across Australia and New Zealand to create collaborative experiential media platforms shaped by deep historical research and community collaborations. At the same time, she become aware of the significant urban policy implications of digital platforms, and following a Phd on real-time cities and consulting experience with Arup, in 2013 Sarah was awarded a prestigious UK Urban Studies Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship for her project on platform urbanism. This gave her an opportunity to dive deep into the rapidly transforming urban policy domains of smart cities and urban data governance as a research fellow at Western Sydney University, working with organisations like Data61, the Greater Sydney Commission and Urban Growth NSW. He first book, Platform Urbanism: Negotiating Platform Ecosystems in Connected Cities, was published by Palgrave in 2019.