Whether maps promote transparency is debatable since the map is a window into the data, and the data is all too often assumed to be accurate since somebody went through the trouble of turning the data into a map. But!! I have experienced first-hand how maps help make informed decisions in various scenarios. Here is a post by Jennifer Lemberger of Direct Relief talking about how valuable maps are for relief aid and emergency response.
Different aspects of the maps and data collection process were compelling to each individual, but underlying all the interactions was the support and understanding for the need for shared data and resources to better respond in disaster situations.
So GIS becomes a necessary platform for sharing information, or as Jack Dangermond says, “GIS as a technology creates understanding.”
I also noticed how the maps are combined with the data collection process to be useful. Data collection is the Achilles heel of GIS. Accurate and reliable data are hard to come by and also critical to disaster situations. A friend of mine at the local chapter of the Red Cross described some of the challenges they face in response situations with organizing volunteers to collect data, typically the door-to-door type of data to clear geographic areas. Luckily I am intimately familiar with creating solutions for data collection and highly recommend Geospago as an affordable software as a solution for mobile gis/gps data collection.
Also, if you have time to spare, check out this article about sketchy charity accounting practices when it comes to relief aid. Any data that helps follow the money is good business.