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I'm very new to GIS and all things geospatial!

I have dbf, prj, sbn, sbx, shp and shx files that have been provided to me. The shapefile contains information on parts of the country that have been segmented into logical areas. These are borders which do not overlap.

I want to take a geocoded location and some how determine which area the location falls within.

I'm unsure as to how to proceed; are there libraries which directly read shapefiles, should I convert to KML, or to a database.

Platform is PHP.

If you require any more information please let me know.

EDIT Sorry I had no idea how much info you guys needed so I'll update here based on comments. No, I have no software at all, I was just provided these files and asked to "make it work". Never done any geospatial work before.

EDIT2 I downloaded QGIS and managed to open the shapefile and I can see my state. I'll explain precisely what I am trying to do: the shapefile has the state split into various administrative areas. What I need to do is to take the geocoded address that someone enters and tell them what area they live in.

Here is the datastructure they have provided me:

Formats available: MAPINFO TAB; ESRI SHAPE
Datum: GDA94
Projection: MGA94 Zone 55
Geometry: Polygon
Field Type Description
ID INT32
NAME CHAR(60) 
PLAN_REF CHAR(8)
COMMENTS CHAR(50)
UFI CHAR(12)
FMP CHAR(12)
CREATED_ON CHAR(19)
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According to your question( For Geo-code location) I assume that you are using Linux platform and for that and QGIS will helpful for you please check (stevencanplan.com/2009/geocoding-in-quantum-gis) OR you can use ArcGIS Software (trial edition also works well for this). For your second part of your question you need to do spatial analysis (how to determine which area the location falls within.) –  Sunil Apr 4 '13 at 3:07
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Let's start with the basics. Do you have GIS Software, for example, [Quantum GIS](www.qgis.org), or [ArcGIS?](www.arcgis.com)? Your platform may be PHP, but that is a programming language. You will need GIS software to do this type of spatial operation. Both of these software packages will read the shapefile format directly. QGIS is free, and ArcGIS is commercial software. Please provide some detail about what you have already tried to do. Welcome to GISse! –  Get Spatial Apr 4 '13 at 3:54
    
@GetSpatial + Sunil thanks for your help - I have updated. No, I have no software, I will get hold of QGIS, but where to from there? –  Sam Apr 4 '13 at 5:44
    
QGIS can be downloaded here: hub.qgis.org/projects/quantum-gis/wiki/Download Is this a one off procedure, or do you need to do it repeatedly? Do you need a server/programmatic solution, or Is doing it manually enough for you? And can you post a sample of your geocoded points? Do they have XY or lat long coordinates? –  Devdatta Tengshe Apr 4 '13 at 7:03
    
@DevdattaTengshe I don't know how to tell you the sample geocoded points; basically what I can see is a bunch of borders. Unfortunately the license agreement that I have prohibits sharing any of the data. It needs to be programmatic, basically take a geocoded address and determine the area of the state that the address is within. See Edit2. –  Sam Apr 4 '13 at 10:31
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