A container security system designed to track both international and domestic freight flow in the United States is beginning to take shape.

Smart and Secure Tradelanes (SST) initiative is being developed to improve security and tracking for the more than 17,000 containers arriving daily at U.S. seaports from abroad.

SST, which is industry funded, will dovetail with the principles of the U.S. Customs Container Security Initiative (CSI), Customs-Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), and the U.S. DOT's Transportation Security Agency's (TSA) maritime security initiatives, such as Operation Safe Commerce.

Implementation of SST is expected to be operational by year-end, involving automated information technology infrastructure linking ports such as Singapore, Rotterdam, and Hong Kong with major U.S. ports such as Seattle/Tacoma, which will be the first domestic port to test the system.

SST is based on real-time information technology developed by the U.S. Dept. of Defense, called the Total Asset Visibility (TAV) network. It uses electronic alerts, anti-tamper systems, virtual inspections and authenticated audit trails to heighten container security. TAV was originally designed to track all military shipments from weapons to boots to foodstuffs through truck, train and ship transportation from the manufacturer to the battlefield.