SIM Cards And Knowledge Graphs — Unseen But Valuable Technologies

Ontotext
7 min readAug 11, 2023

In this blog post, we’ll explore the conceptual similarities between SIM cards and knowledge graphs, taking a look at their shared purpose of enabling seamless connectivity and unlocking the true potential of interconnected systems

In a world that seems deluged with technology, reliant on innovations, and fascinated by the next shiny object, it’s ironic that some of the most critical technology often goes unseen or unappreciated.

Because of the internet and our ubiquitous mobile devices, the ability to be constantly connected is generally assumed. In an environment of constant interconnectedness, where data flows easily and freely across devices, carriers, systems, and locations, we often overlook the little things that make these connections possible.

The small stuff we take for granted

For example, when was the last time you thought about the SIM (Subscriber Identity Module) card in your phone? It’s a small, if complex, thing that quietly facilitates your ability to communicate and access information across various platforms. Interestingly, SIM cards share a striking similarity with another technology that’s gaining popularity, that of knowledge graphs.

Haven’t heard of knowledge graphs? Chances are, you encounter them in some form or another on a daily basis. Think about how Google not only serves up the answer to your search but also suggests related information. Perhaps another good example, if you’ve ever asked about drug interactions on WebMD, you likely got an ad for a related product. This is possible because of knowledge graphs — powerful and dynamic databases that enable cross-system connections, semantic interoperability, and relationship support. But — you don’t see or think about them!

So what are the conceptual similarities between SIM cards and knowledge graph technology?

Assembling the puzzle

Let’s start with connecting the dots because this is where discovery happens. This might sound like a cryptic statement but consider how your brain works. By connecting different pieces of information stored in the brain, you enhance your ability to understand, process, and recall information more effectively. You can find patterns, generate new ideas, and develop a deeper understanding of the world around you.

At its core, a SIM card serves as a bridge between devices, carriers, and networks. It generally doesn’t matter what carrier you are using, the type of phone you have, or even where you are. SIM cards allow you to connect to anyone, anywhere, any time (provided there’s a network service available, of course!). As a result, you can make calls to order a pizza, send an MMS with a cute cat picture, and access data services — all on a single mobile device.

Similarly, knowledge graphs empower a single point of access to diverse data pieces coming from multiple sources. Knowledge graphs don’t really care where the data sits, what format it’s in, and whether it’s structured or unstructured. They eliminate the boundaries of data silos and ensure that data can flow seamlessly across different applications and systems, supporting the development and delivery of various data products.

Just as SIM cards ensure the continuity of your communication, knowledge graphs ensure the smooth integration of disparate data, fostering a web of interconnected knowledge that leads to deeper insights. And, the added value of SIM cards and knowledge graphs would be much smaller without the internet, particularly WWW — the global information space that facilitates communication. It makes it possible to exchange references, web page URLs, videos, and pictures, instead of having to send the actual content point to point.

Speaking the same language

SIM cards have long been recognized for their ability to transcend technological barriers. Their interoperability and the supported network standards for communication enable devices to seamlessly connect and interact regardless of make, model, or operating system. It’s the reason why when you travel internationally, your SIM card effortlessly pinpoints the local mobile network. This interoperability allows you to continue using your phone for calls, texts, and data services (assuming you have a good international plan!), regardless of the network or country you are in.

Another example of interoperability that we don’t think much about is the ability to use an older mobile device to connect to a newer one. This is facilitated by the backward compatibility of SIM cards, which ensures that the older mobile device can communicate with the newer device, despite any technological differences or advancements.

Similarly, knowledge graphs enable data interoperability across different databases, systems, and applications. They adhere to WWW standards and Linked Data principles, which emphasize the use of common specifications and protocols for publishing and interlinking data. For example, by using unique identifiers for each data item, knowledge graphs make it easy to identify resources across different datasets and systems. The use of standardized formats also provides consistent representation and interpretation, eliminating data errors and inconsistencies.

The interoperability of knowledge graphs allows the easy integration and reuse of publicly available as well as proprietary data. The resulting high-quality standardized and interlinked data becomes the foundation for business analytics and insight generation.

By adopting standards and protocols, both SIM cards and knowledge graphs foster compatibility and interoperability, eliminating the challenges of fragmented solutions and facilitating data exchange on a global scale.

Forging ties

As the world grows both smaller and larger, developing and strengthening relationships becomes even more important. Beyond mere connectivity, both SIM cards and knowledge graphs excel at supporting relationships.

SIM cards establish relationships between devices, carriers, and users, ensuring seamless communication. They store information related to a mobile device user, such as their identity and mobile network credentials, and by providing this information, they enable the necessary context for communication. SIM cards can also facilitate specific communication patterns or actions depending on the user’s intentions. They allow certain services or features to be accessed or activated based on the user’s preferences or desired actions.

Likewise, knowledge graphs excel at representing complex relationships between disparate data points, capturing not only the explicit connections but also implicit associations. They make this possible by adding domain knowledge that puts your organization’s data in context and enables its interpretation. Adding context and semantic consistency to the data, improves knowledge discovery, business analytics, and decision-making. It also allows knowledge graphs to use logical inferences to reveal hidden insights, find unknown correlations, and answer questions you may have not yet considered.

Pushing the envelope

SIM cards are also able to support additional services, applications, and functionalities beyond their basic communication functions. Today’s SIM cards have greater storage capacity and processing capabilities, which allows them to handle more complex tasks. With time, they have evolved from being simple identity modules to becoming powerful platforms for delivering various value-added services.

Similarly, knowledge graphs can evolve together with your growing enterprise data and changing business needs. Their data model is flexible and extensible, which means that as new data requirements arise, you can add or modify elements, without a complete overhaul of the existing structure. This enables enterprises to ensure that their business remains agile and future-proof and provides a significant competitive advantage.

Wrapping it up

Of course, I’ve taken some liberty in comparing a physical piece of technology with a complex database. But, in a world where connectivity is paramount, SIM cards and knowledge graphs share important conceptual similarities. They act as powerful catalysts, striving to connect the dots, support interoperability, establish relationships, and unlock the true potential of interconnected systems.

Also, keep in mind that SIM cards have been around for over 30 years and are a mature and widely adopted technology. Knowledge graphs, on the other hand, started to receive attention only a decade ago. They are about to penetrate mainstream awareness and further deliver their value to people, enterprises, and communities.

As we move forward in an era of unprecedented data growth, it is vital to recognize and appreciate the invisible technology that makes it all possible. Imagine the day when you’ll be able to make all bookings and reservations for your next trip, without having to spend hours on it or use the services of a travel agency. Knowledge graph powered solutions, combined with the personal context available on your phone (yes, the SIM card again!), will make it possible very soon.

So, the next time your phone or your Google search effortlessly plugs you into a web of interconnectedness, remember the silent champions behind — SIM cards and knowledge graphs!

Doug Kimball, CMO at Ontotext

Originally published at https://www.ontotext.com on August 11, 2023.

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Ontotext

Ontotext is a global leader in enterprise knowledge graph technology and semantic database engines.