Case: hybrid mass consultation of citizens

Hear what citizens have to say in Synthetron online dialogues

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


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 a way that the whole initiative was entirely crowdfunded, and citizen-driven. Furthermore, it used a unique mass hybrid model of on-site mass interaction plus online (G-home) and offline (G-off).


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.


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.

For more detailed information on this case, click “download file”.

Case: inviting citizens to share their views

Hear what citizens have to say in Synthetron online dialogues

How citizens were invited by the Dutch Ministry of Environment to share their views on their future environment.


The VROM (Dutch ministry of Environment) is responsible for the environment in which citizens live, work, and relax.

The Netherlands is a densely populated country requiring careful consideration of issues such as living space.

VROM decided to set up a vision development project for the ‘Randstad’ – the urban region including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague – called ‘Randstad 2040’.

Citizen participation was key to the vision development and VROM looked for innovative ways to go about this.


As part of the ‘Randstad 2040’ vision development project, 400 citizens were invited to discuss their views of the ideal future for the ‘Randstad’ through Synthetron online discussions.

Participants had lively discussions about mobility, environment, living conditions, transportation, housing, urbanisation, etc. They visualised their ideal world, discovered dilemmas and explored the downsides of their choices.

Synthetron consultants developed the script alongside representatives of VROM. The questions were specifically made to suit the wishes of VROM.

We moderated the sessions, making sure that all participants had a good experience. All voices were heard and the citizens filtered out the most important statements themselves.


The raw data, among other things, provided the most supported statements, controversial statements, and non-supported statements.

The results of these Synthetron sessions were used as input into meetings where citizens were invited to explore the issues further. Therefore these meetings had a “head start” and could go deeper into the matter from the beginning. This proved more efficient than the traditional focus groups.

The findings from the sessions and the meetings were analysed and a comprehensive report was made. The results were presented to the Minister and top policy makers.

In the end, the Dutch parliament adopted some of the recommendations resulting from the study.

Case: engaging members on hot topic

How an automobile association engaged its members on a controversial road tax reform to advise the government using Synthetron online dialogues.

“Synthetron helped us in a very professional way to reach more than 6000 members in online conversations on the key issues of the ‘car tax proposal’. Our members were happy as they found it easy and engaging to participate. And for us, getting a collaborative filtered outcome on such a large scale made the process very efficient and transparent. We got deep insight into what our members think, feel and why, on the different policy issues. The excellent report enabled us to bring balanced and motivated advice to the government with co-created stakeholder support.”

Guido Van Woerkom, President & CEO ANWB


The ANWB – the Dutch national automobile association – needed a clear and complete image of what its members‘ opinions were on a controversial proposed law, in order to advise the government.

A quantitative questionnaire showed that more qualitative research and engagement of members was necessary.


All ANWB members were invited to participate to one of 7 real-time Synthetron sessions, spread over 3 days.

In total, 6000 people participated. They discussed all 7 parts of the proposed law. Carefully designed scripts served as the basis for the discussion.


Within two weeks, Synthetron inventoried, classified and analysed the ideas, opinions, insights and feelings of those 6000 participants on one of the most delicate political topics at that time.

The final advice reflected an overall image as well as an insight into the 7 different aspects of the law. The results were presented by the head of the Association in a public press conference.

Media, parliament, and stakeholders systematically referred to the report in the following months. The automobile association gained much credit publicly and from its members for having involved members on a large scale in such an innovative way.

The results were combined with the results of the quantitative questionnaire, and were presented to the national government, which helped them in reaching a decision on road pricing.

Click “download file” to get more in depth information on this case.