1996 Annual Report
Opening a New Office
||No wet paint, no ribbon cutting,
no fanfare -- just the click of a
computer keystroke and it's open.
By Karen Flamme
"Open 24 Hours!"
It wasn't long ago that a sign announcing round-the-clock service was
a pretty good indication that a business was willing to go to extraordinary
measures to meet its customers' needs. Since then, 24-hour, walk-in service
has become commonplace in a number of industries. Today, to keep ahead
of, or even abreast of the competition, many businesses are taking a leap
into cyberspace and opening virtual offices that are accessible 24 hours
a day, 365 days a year, to customers around the world. And the best part
is that customers can access these offices from the comfort of their homes,
offices, or neighborhood coffeehouses. In the spring of 1996, the Federal
Reserve Bank of San Francisco opened just such an office on the World
Our address -- / -- leads customers to the entrance of the FedWest GateWay,
a portal to information from and about the Federal Reserve Bank of San
Francisco. It's as accessible to a banker in downtown Los Angeles as it
is to a rancher in eastern Oregon, a teacher in Connecticut, or a student
In educating the public about the Federal Reserve System's purposes and
functions and role as fiscal agent for the United States Treasury, the Web
is proving to be an efficient and cost-effective way to reach constituents
within our nine-state District and beyond. In an era in which it is increasingly
difficult to know who wants and needs information about the economy, the
Federal Reserve, and the services we provide, the Web gives us a way to
publish various kinds of information quickly and inexpensively and let our
customers choose what they need when they need it. It is easily accessible,
educational, and engaging, allowing users to receive information nearly
instantaneously, explore, select what they want, and communicate with us
whenever convenient. In addition, interactive features which let users give
us feedback allow us to learn from and about our public.
| What's the magic that makes it possible? The World Wide Web is,
basically, a system which allows easy access to, and sharing of information
on, the Internet--a gigantic, free computer network. A site on the
web, such as FedWest GateWay, is a place where you can call up and
read, download, or interact with, documents and graphics with the
click of a mouse. In addition, highlighted words or phrases within
documents serve as links to web sites anywhere in the world. The number
of web users grows exponentially. Suffice it to say they number in
the millions and reside in virtually every country.
Using the "build it and they will come" philosophy, we
did, and you have. Visitors to FedWest GateWay now number about
4,000 a week--a number that is steadily growing--and come to us
from around the world.
We are proud to say that FedWest GateWay has been awarded a 4-star
rating by the Magellan guide, a directory which rates and reviews
Internet sites for depth of content, ease of exploration, and Internet
appeal. It was featured in the Bay Area on KRON-TV as the Web Site
of the Day, and was cited by a columnist in The Californian newspaper
as "one of the best designed web sites I have ever come across."
Information organization is one of the biggest challenges to web site
developers. A common complaint about the Internet is that there is so
much information available on it that it is difficult for users to find
what they need quickly and efficiently. Our clients want to navigate easily
to the information they need without becoming snared in a frustrating
and time-consuming tangle of information overload.
To avoid the snares and tangles, FedWest GateWay is organized in sections,
grouping similar information together with similar usage patterns. Distinct
graphics and easy-to-follow menus provide overviews of the contents and
guide users to their destinations.
FedWest GateWay is currently arranged into seven sections: Inside the
FRBSF, Economic Research, Treasury Securities or Savings Bonds, Economics
Education, Banking and Finance in the West, Federal Reserve System, and
Community Affairs. Within each of these sections there are subsections
which further define the available choices and offer links to other relevant
sites. At every point it is easy to retrace your steps, back up to main
menus, find out what's new on the site, access the glossary, perform searches,
and give feedback.
the FRBSF - What better than the Golden Gate Bridge and seal
of the Twelfth Federal Reserve District to let you know graphically you
are entering a world of information about the Federal Reserve Bank of San
Francisco? Designed to entice the casual web browser, business person, student,
or job seeker, this section is broken into five categories.
Securities or Savings Bonds - The site's most popular area
is introduced by a graphic of stately columns whose clickable buttons lead
visitors to information about Treasury Securities or Savings Bonds. As fiscal
agent of the United States Treasury, this Bank provides direct sales and
service of marketable Treasury securities.
- Charts and graphs about the economy visually lead you into the three subsections
which comprise Economic Research.
Economics Education -
This gate opens onto a blackboard symbolizing resources designed especially
for teachers and students.
and Finance in the West - Here a ranch-style gate opens to
a banc card symbolizing the growing importance of electronic banking and
finance. As the central bank for the geographically largest and most populated
district in the Federal Reserve System, the San Francisco
Reserve Bank has plenty to keep track of in the way of banking and finance.
Feedback features on the Web let us find out our customers' needs and wants
and be responsive to them. This helps us fulfill our mission of keeping
the nation's payments system operating efficiently and safely. From local
banks in Alaskan outposts to multi-branch urban financial institutions,
we are committed to providing information and services for and about our
Affairs - Among its varied functions, the Federal Reserve produces
newsletters, reports, seminars, workshops, and conferences and encourages
banks to work with community organizations to promote local economic development.
Reserve System - Basic information about what the Federal Reserve
System is and what it does, as well as other governmental resources, can
be found at this location on the site.
By the time you exit FedWest GateWay -- our virtual office -- we trust
you will feel your visit was rewarding. We hope that you found the information
you came for; learned something new; communicated with us; were entertained;
and will visit us at this office again soon -- remember, it's open 24
It's only fitting that giving good customer
service in the West would include using the most advanced technology,
and the entire Twelfth District is sure to benefit from currently
emerging technologies. According to a recent study by the Bay
Area Economic Forum, "The San Francisco Bay Area is clearly
at the cutting edge of the emerging knowledge-based economy in
the U.S. It leads all other regions in key indicators: the largest
share of college and advanced degrees; more and better research
centers; more than double the average number of patents per employee;
the largest share of high tech exports; and three times the commercial
"There are also many exciting new Internet companies,"
the report continues. "One company is pioneering methods
for conducting cash transactions over the Internet in a secure
way, and another is working with the larger banks to develop standards
for bank payments over the Internet.
"The Bay Area is also the birthplace of many of the fastest
growing financial services companies in the U.S....due in part
to the fact that unprecedented links have been formed between
the traditional banking community and the region's cutting-edge
information and computing services companies. The close proximity
between the Bay Area's financial institutions and information
technology companies promotes partnering and cross-industry learning."
The Bay Area: Leading the Transition to a Knowledge-Based Economy
Published by the Bay Area Economic Forum, August 1996