SUMMARY: CARRFS January 2016 Innovation Summit

The CARRFS January 2016 Innovation Summit was successfully held in Toronto, January 10-11, 2016. The 2-day planning meeting was jointly funded by Public Health Agency of Canada, Public Health Ontario, BC Centre for Disease Control, Sudbury & District Health Unit, Government of Manitoba, and Alberta Health Services. The meeting was attended by 19 participants in person from across Canada and 6 additional participants by conference call on the second day.

Outcomes of the Innovation Summit
The 2 days were opened by keynote speeches on "digital technologies disrupting public health surveillance", by Dr. Martin Sumner-Smith, MaRS and "upping the ante on behavioural surveillance", by Dr. Gayatri Jayaraman, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC). Participants conducted plenary and small-group discussions surrounding critical issues that CARRFS is facing, and solutions.

A number of decisions were made as follows:
1. Revision of the vision and mission statements for the new CARRFS: 

· Vision:  Timely and quality surveillance of health determinants informs policies and practices across Canada.
· Mission:  We provide the platform to strengthen an innovative pan-Canadian health surveillance community.

2. Creation of an Interim Core Leadership Team to work out the details for the next steps for the new CARRFS:
A core group of 10 CARRFS members has been formed to work out in the next 6 months the details for the new CARRFS, including the creation of a new Board of Directors. More CARRFS members are expected to join the core group.

3. Creation of six working groups:
Six  working groups have been created to immediately work on various urgent activities for the new CARRFS. More CARRFS members not at the 2016 Innovation Summit are expected to join the working groups. 

· Scientific Conference (to plan for the 2017 CARRFS face-to-face Conference) 
· Environmental Scan (to conduct a situational analysis of who is doing what in surveillance in Canada) 
· Data Visualization (to conduct a data visualization project for surveillance) 
· Risk Factor Surveillance System (to share risk factor surveillance knowledge and infrastructure with a goal to support provinces and expand their local/regional surveillance system)  
· Communications/Website/Social Media/Newsletter/Membership (to provide a communication platform for CARRFS members) 
· Webinar (to conduct a needs survey of CARRFS members for webinar topics and speakers)

Please note an existing CARRFS working group "Surveillance Innovation Writing Group" will automatically become the 7th working group of the new CARRFS but this working group is not adding new members. This working group has been working since May 2013 and is in the final stages of producing the scientific journal paper "Proof of Concept Paper: Innovative Non-Traditional Data Sources for Public Health Surveillance".

The new CARRFS will continue to be the only Pan-Canadian network of surveillance professionals and stakeholders in Canada, and is therefore relevant to the surveillance work across Canada. It is expected that a name contest among all members will be held to rename the network.


What is New after the CARRFS Innovation Summit

1. The new CARRFS has expanded its objective from the former “surveillance capacity building at local/regional level” (contributing to preserving the current status) to “surveillance innovation” (contributing to moving ahead to the future). It is now more in line with the national and international trend in public health surveillance.

2. The new CARRFS has expanded it scope from the previous "local/regional (local health units)" level to a broader scope that includes also organizations at the "federal, provincial and territorial" levels. This allows a wider participation across Canada.

3. The new CARRFS has expanded its focus from the previous "risk factor surveillance (behaviours)" level to a broader "health determinants" level. Besides behavioural risk factors, socioeconomic factors and environmental factors including climate change are now increasingly also recognised as important contributors to population health and ill-health. According to WHO (, the determinants of health include: the social and economic environment, the physical environment, and the person’s individual characteristics and behaviours.

4. The new CARRFS has shifted from a sole-source funding model (all activities funded by one organization) to a multi-source funding model. The Innovation Summit was itself jointly sponsored by a handful of organizations. It is now easier for various organizations to consider funding of CARRFS activities on a case by case and project by project basis.

Comments from Participants of the Innovation Summit:
Jostein Algroy: Apart from hard work - it was actually fun to see how the meeting came to a conclusion and achieving the goals.
Bernard Choi: It was a great meeting. I am pleased with the outcomes of the Innovation Summit.
Gail Butt: I was more than pleased that we met our major meeting goals.