Colin Furness

Assistant Professor (Status)
Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation

Colin is an infection control epidemiologist, and assistant professor (teaching stream) in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto.  He also holds a status cross-appointment to the Institute of Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health. 

From the University of Toronto, Colin received a Bachelor of Science in psychology (1990), Master of Information Studies in information systems design (1999), PhD in the interdisciplinary field of knowledge management (2010), and Master of Public Health in epidemiology (2014).  He is currently a master's candidate in Education, studying the sociology of the professions. 

In public health, Colin worked within industry for several years with a Toronto-based company using geospatial analysis to track infections both in communities and inside buildings.  During this time he led the analysis to develop Ontario’s tuberculosis tracking system, working closely with Ontario Public Health, Toronto Public Health, and Peel Public Health to deepen his understanding of disease transmission in populations.  Colin also led the design of an integrated hardware and software system to track movement of people and equipment in hospitals to measure infection risk.  A significant portion of this work, in Canada and the US, focused on automating contact tracing as well as automated measurement of risky behaviours by patients, staff, and visitors. 

Colin's work during COVID-19 has been in public advocacy and education.  He has been retained as an expert witness several times in Ontario concerning COVID-19 emergency measures and public safety. He has also been engaged more than 1,000 times for media commentary on a local and national level with CBC Radio and Television, TV Ontario, CTV television news, CTV radio, Global News, CityPulse News, Toronto Star, Globe and Mail, New York Times, and NPR. At the Faculty of Information, Colin has developed two master's courses pertinent to the study of COVID-19: 'Pandemics and Information', and 'Information, Misinformation, and Health'. 

Pandemic Related Publications:


Shalansky RA, Wu M, Shen SC, Furness C, Morris SK, Reynolds D, Wong T, Pakes, Crowcroft N. (2019). Evaluation of a pilot immunization curriculum to meet competency training needs of medical residents. BMC Medical Education 20(1), 442-8. 

Guthrie JL Alexander DC, Marchand-Austin A, Lam K, Whelan M, Lee B, Furness C, Rea E, Stuart R, Lechner J, Varia M, McLean J, Jamieson FB. (2017). Technology and tuberculosis control: the OUT-TB Web experience. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 24(e1), e136-142. DOI: 

Furness C, Srigley JA, Gardam M (2017).  How much do beds and mattresses sleep around? Automated measurement of bed frame and mattress movement in an acute care hospital. Canadian Journal of Infection Control 32(4), 222-224. 

Srigley JA, Furness C, Gardam M (2016). Interventions to improve patient hand hygiene: a systematic review. Journal of Hospital Infection 94(1). 23-29. 

Srigley JA, Furness C, Gardam M (2014). Measurement of patient hand hygiene on multi-organ transplant units using a novel technology: an observational study. Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology 35 (11), 1336-41. 

Srigley JA, Furness C, Gardam M (2014). Quantification of the Hawthorne effect in hand hygiene compliance monitoring using an electronic monitoring system: a retrospective cohort study. British Medical Journal – Quality and Safety 23 (12), 974-80. 

Wallace N, Harten H, Furness C, Watson N, Vair T. (2014). Disease Mapping and Infection Control System and Method. US Patent Application. 13/133, 193

Ali, MA, Nachumow JP, Srigley JA, Furness CD, Mann S, Gardam, M. (2013). Measuring the effect of sousveillance in increasing socially desirable behaviour. IEEE International Symposium on Technology and Society (ISTAS): Social Implications of Wearable Computing and Augmediated Reality in Everyday Life, 266-267.  

Selected Presentations:

Furness C (2021). COVID-19: A fireside chat. (Panelist.) Economics, Policy and Research Seminar Series, Ontario Medical Association Meeting, March 30, 2021. 

Furness C (2021). “Bridging the Gulf Between Scientific Expertise and Real-World Impact”. Keynote Address, Ottawa Hospital Research Institute Post-Doctoral Research Day. March 18, 2021. 

Furness C (2021). “COVID-19: A Crisis of Expertise”. Seniors’ College invited lecture, Trinity College, University of Toronto.  January 27, 2021.  

Furness C (2020). “Making Behaviour Change Interventions Effective by Applying Behaviour Change Theory.” Continuing Medical Education Webinar: Webber Training. December 10, 2020. 

Furness C (2020). Towards Closing the Book on COVID: From Catastrophe to Control. Trinity College Friends of the Library Special Lecture, October 27, 2020.  

Furness C (2019). “Peering Beyond the Five Moments.” Continuing Medical Education Webinar: Webber Training. March 7, 2019.  

Furness C (2017). Manual Hand Hygiene Compliance Auditing Does Not Work Because It Cannot Work Invited Presentation. Annual Conference of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control (APIC). Portland, Oregon, June 14, 2017. 

Furness C (2017). Invited presentation and Interactive Workshop: Designing for Behaviour Change.  Infection Prevention and Control Annual Conference, Charlottetown, PEI, June 18, 2017 

Furness C (2015). The Psychology of Quality Improvement: Principles for Changing Patient Safety Behavior. Continuing Medical Education Lecture, Roswell Cancer Hospital, Buffalo NY, September 11, 2015. 

Furness C (2015). Hand Hygiene Compliance Measurement as a Threat to Patient Safety. Quality Improvement and Patient Safety Conference, Institute for Healthcare Improvement, Toronto, May 2, 2015. 

Furness C (2014). Misspecification of Hand Hygiene Quality Conceptualization and Measurement. Canadian Institute for Health Informatics. Grand Rounds Lecture, Toronto, November 26, 2014. 

Furness C (2014). What Do We Know About Hospital Hand Hygiene Measurement? Grand Rounds Lecture, Department of Neurology, SUNY University at Buffalo, July 3, 2014. 

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