The West Coast is one step closer to getting an early earthquake warning system.

The U.S. Geological Survey on Thursday announced that it’s giving $4 million to researchers in Oregon, Washington and California to build about 100 seismic stations and develop software to support the fledgling effort to provide advance warning of big quakes.

Already about 600 seismic stations are in place, but it will take a network of 1,600 stations to develop a system as robust as Japan’s, which has been credited with saving lives during that country’s 2011 quake, said Cecily Wolfe,  coordinator of the Advanced National Seismic System at USGS.

In addition, researchers at the University of Oregon and other universities still need to develop software and other infrastructure to broadcast warnings when seismic stations detect shaking.

Wolfe estimates it will take $38 million to build the full seismic warning system, and another $16 million annually to operate it.