As part of the OpenStreetMap project, there is a humanitarian aspect, producing maps of the less developed parts of the world. These can be used for both disaster recovery, as was demonstrated after the Haiti earthquake, but also for preparedness in areas of flood or disease risk.
Maps are knowledge. They are required to coordinate (often scarce) resources in the event of a disaster or epidemic. And OSM is making these freely available to everyone everywhere, in the same way that Wikipedia is democratising knowledge.
Over the past few years, I have contributed to a number of the tasks organised by the Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team (HOT), mapping various areas of Africa and Indonesia.