SEATTLE (CBS/AP) — The U.S. Geological Survey has awarded $4 million to four universities in the Pacific Northwest and California to boost the development of earthquake early warning systems.

The University of Washington, the University of Oregon, the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, Berkeley, received the awards, which were announced Thursday.

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The goal is to improve and test a coast-wide system designed to detect potentially damaging earthquakes and alert people seconds before severe ground shaking takes place.

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The USGS also spent an additional $1 million on 150 new and upgraded sensors to improve the speed and reliability of the warnings.

The ShakeAlert demonstration system is currently sending alerts to test users in California, Oregon and Washington.

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