Hear what citizens have to say in Synthetron online dialogues

Hybrid mass consultation of citizens

How the first G1000 mass consultation with citizens used Synthetron to increase engagement and extent reach.

Situation


In November 2011 a unique experiment was set up in Belgium: the first G1000. One thousand randomly selected citizens were brought together in Brussels in an effort to bring together people from all regions, social classes and ages to discuss 3 topics previously identified by citizens: Social Security, the Financial Crisis and Immigration.
The G1000 was set up using a hybrid format. At a mass event people at tables of 10 first listened to 20 minute expert presentations on each topic discussed under the guidance of facilitators. In parallel discussions took place online (G-home) and off site (G-off).
The set up was unique in so far that the whole initiative was entirely crowdfunded, and citizen-driven and that is used a unique mass hybrid model of on-site mass interaction plus online (G-home) and offline (G-off).

Approach


On the day Synthetron ran the online part G-Home. More than 700 citizens joined the debates from their PC at home or work. Via live-streaming they first watched the 20 minute expert presentations and then joined the interactive Synthetron discussion online (60 mins). Eight discussions were organised with Dutch and French sessions set up in parallel on each topic.
The discussion scripts were designed to be complementary to the G1000 on site event so that citizens co-created their best insights into what changes and solutions they felt were needed. Participants jointly decided some focus areas.
Moderators guided the citizens to share and co-evaluate their ideas, opinions and reflect on ways forward. A quick analysis was done during the day and presented back to the G1000 room an hour later. The discussions were projected live in the G1000 event room for cross fertilisation.

Results


Participants had a critical yet very constructive attitude during the debates. In terms of content, results were very much in line with the G1000. Reports were provided to all participants a week after the discussions.
These reports together with the outcome of the G1000 were the core input for the next step: the G32 (32 citizens from amongst the G-home and G1000 participants working in more detail on some recommendations).
The reports and the full raw data were made available to universities in Belgium for further analyses.

Since this first experiment, many G1000 initiatives that followed used the Synthetron platform to increase engagement and extend reach.