Crossing jurisdictional boundaries and strengthening relationships between private- and public-sector leaders is key to enhancing the resiliency of infrastructure around the world, federal administration officials said on Sept. 5.

At a meeting of an international group of public- and private-sector decision-makers held at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C., Shaun Donovan, U.S. housing and urban development secretary, and Caitlin Durkovich, assistant secretary for infrastructure protection at the Dept. of Homeland Security, outlined efforts federal agencies have made to work with local, regional and private entities to break through traditional silos to help the nation's infrastructure become more resilient to natural disasters.

For example, relationships forged through a presidentially appointed group of CEOs established after the Fukushima disaster helped build a network of people who, ultimately, helped get power restored more quickly in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, Durkovich said. Donovan remarked that an international infrastructure design competition aimed at promoting resiliency in the post-Sandy rebuilding effort is drawing on the knowledge of some of the best thinkers from around the world.

The competition is part of President Obama's strategy to combat climate change. Donovan, who chairs the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, says building infrastructure that is resilient to the effects of climate change will require designers to think of long-term strategies, not just quick fixes. "It's not enough to rebuild [the Northeast] back to where it was before the storm. … Instead, our goal is to help the community build smarter and stronger than before," he said.