Says The Economist:
mapping technology has matured into a tool for social justice. Whether it is to promote health, safety, fair politics or a cleaner environment, foundations, non-profit groups and individuals around the world are finding that maps can help them make their case far more intuitively and effectively than speeches, policy papers or press releases.I think what you've got here is another case where the proliferation of technology and information has a democratizing effect in that it allows people the means to form a clearer view of the world, and by extension a better understanding of how to redress injustices, improve their lives, or just become aware of opportunities which previously would have been obscure to them. New technologies don't always have such propitious effects, but this is one case where they do. Also note that maps are great.
“Today you are allowed to visualise data in ways you couldn’t even understand just a few years ago,” says Jeff Vining of Gartner, a consulting firm. Along with web-based resources, coalescence around more advanced tools has also helped, such as the emergence of ESRI, based in Redlands, California, as the market leader in mapping software. And the rise of open-source projects such as MapServer, PostGIS and GRASS GIS have made sophisticated mapping available to non-profit groups with limited resources.